my forte is not my fortay, it's just my fort

WE HEAR IT AND WE SAY IT . . . IN­COR­RECTLY! We usu­ally hear "for­tay" when peo­ple say "forte," an al­most uni­ver­sally mis­pro­nounced word! I can't say it's a part of everyone's daily vo­cab­u­lary, but if you read enough you'll come across it reg­u­larly. I'm writ­ing this be­cause it was used in a cou­ple of movies that we watched re­cently. Un­for­tu­nately, while the word and its mis­pro­nun­ci­a­tion in both films stuck in my head, the ti­tles of the two movies did not. Be­fore we ad­dress the near uni­ver­sal mis­mouthing of forte, we need a de­f­i­n­i­tion of the word. In mod­ern us­age, forte is a… Con­tinue Read­ing my forte is not my for­tay, it's just my fort

posting online ain't the same as being in print

REGARD­ING POST­ING ONLNE, in re­sponse to hav­ing the of­fi­cial Elvis Pres­ley web­site at Grace­land pick­ing up one of my articles—which I trum­peted loudly to fam­ily and friends via Face­book and email—my friend Stephanie Locke posted a nice com­ment on my A Touch Of Gold site: "Good to see Umphred back in print." In­stead of sim­ply ac­cept­ing the com­ment, I re­sponded with, "Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t con­sider be­ing pub­lished on­line as be­ing in print. In fact, I don’t even think the word pub­lish should be used for on­line ar­ti­cles. I think I’ll write a short piece on the topic and… Con­tinue Read­ing post­ing on­line ain't the same as be­ing in print

on william strunk and vigorously concise writing

WIL­LIAM STRUNK JR was Pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish at Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity. In 1918, he self-published a guide for his stu­dents on Eng­lish us­age and writ­ing called The El­e­ments Of Style. The slim book con­sisted pri­mar­ily of eight "el­e­men­tary rules of us­age" and ten "el­e­men­tary prin­ci­ples of com­po­si­tion" ac­com­pa­nied by a "few mat­ters of form.' It urged vig­or­ous and con­cise writ­ing. Strunk's stu­dents re­ferred to The El­e­ments Of Style as "The Lit­tle Book," as if was less than fifty pages long. Its stated pur­pose was "to lighten the task of in­struc­tor and stu­dent by con­cen­trat­ing at­ten­tion on a few es­sen­tials, the rules of us­age,… Con­tinue Read­ing on william strunk and vig­or­ously con­cise writ­ing

about editing and those confusing proofreader's marks

ASIDE FROM MY OWN WORK, I have edited sev­eral books and many ar­ti­cles for oth­ers. I have no for­mal train­ing in, merely study about edit­ing. I never used the field's ac­cepted nomen­cla­ture or proof-reading sym­bols. I just used my Strunk & White and every­thing worked out hunky-dory for those writ­ers! Wikipedia de­fines edit­ing as "the process of se­lect­ing and prepar­ing [ar­ti­cles or books] used to con­vey in­for­ma­tion. The edit­ing process can in­volve cor­rec­tion, or­ga­ni­za­tion, and many other mod­i­fi­ca­tions per­formed with an in­ten­tion of pro­duc­ing a cor­rect, con­sis­tent, ac­cu­rate, and com­plete work." Wiki de­fines proof­read­ing as "the read­ing of a gal­ley proof… Con­tinue Read­ing about edit­ing and those con­fus­ing proofreader's marks

at least hillary knows the difference between alternative and alternate

LAST NIGHT'S SLUGFEST—er, uh, I mean, last night's debate—consisted of ninety min­utes of Don­ald Trump and Hillary Clin­ton call­ing each other names ("liar" popped up more than once) and de­clar­ing each other un­trust­wor­thy and un­fit for of­fice. Pol­icy dif­fer­ences and other mat­ters that should con­cern these two can­di­dates were set aside so that each could im­pugn the ba­sic char­ac­ter of the other! But I fo­cus here in­stead on gram­mar: we now live in a world where sup­pos­edly trained, pro­fes­sional jour­nal­ists and in­dus­try as­so­ciates uni­ver­sally mis­use use al­ter­nate to de­scribe the mul­ti­ple al­ter­na­tive movie end­ings found on some DVDs, or the… Con­tinue Read­ing at least hillary knows the dif­fer­ence be­tween al­ter­na­tive and al­ter­nate

some (piss) poor writing about hillary's "role" in the attack on benghazi

THE LAST WORD ANY­ONE would use to de­scribe me is "conservative"—at least not re­gard­ing most is­sues re­lated to pol­i­tics. But there's more to life than pol­i­tics: I re­main old-fashioned on the is­sue of pre­scrip­tive ver­sus de­scrip­tive dic­tio­nar­ies (strongly be­liev­ing in the for­mer) and the mis­use of the des­ig­nated hit­ter in ma­jor league base­ball (not at all what you think). And I am adamantly con­ser­v­a­tive about the cor­rect use of gram­mar and punc­tu­a­tion and op­posed to piss poor writ­ing in all sizes and shapes. Oh, and I still think vanilla malt shakes are yummy! 1 Nonethe­less, I have sub­scrip­tions to sev­eral po­lit­i­cally rightwinged newslet­ters, which… Con­tinue Read­ing some (piss) poor writ­ing about hillary's "role" in the at­tack on beng­hazi

are there supposed to be spaces between the dots in an ellipsis?

EVERY READER OF THE ENG­LISH LAN­GUAGE has seen those three dots in the midst of an oth­er­wise nor­mal sen­tence that tells them some­thing spe­cial is hap­pen­ing. These dots are called an ‘el­lip­sis’ and are usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with text quoted from an­other source. Most read­ers know that these dots in­di­cate that words in the orig­i­nal text have been deemed un­nec­es­sary and omit­ted from the quote. 1 The pur­pose of this es­say is to clar­ify for read­ers and writ­ers alike the way in which the el­lip­sis is used in pro­fes­sional ty­pog­ra­phy and how that ap­plies to how we use it on blogs and… Con­tinue Read­ing are there sup­posed to be spaces be­tween the dots in an el­lip­sis?