at least hillary knows the difference between “alternative” and “alternate”

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LAST NIGHT’S SLUGFEST 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! READ MORE

some (piss) poor writing about hillary’s “role” in benghazi

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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. READ MORE

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

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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. READ MORE

Why I Capitalize Every Word In Every Title

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I CAPITALIZE EVERY WORD in every title that I write in the text sec­tions of my books and es­says. That in­cludes cap­i­tal­izing the def­i­nite and in­def­i­nite ar­ti­cles and those perky prepo­si­tions! I al­ways have and no doubt I al­ways will. I do this for sev­eral rea­sons, which I share here in a ges­ture of bon­homie. But be­ware: this ap­proach is at odds with most style guides. READ MORE

far out! I’m another blog’s blog of the month!

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LAST YEAR, I pub­lished an ar­ticle ti­tled “on william strunk and el­e­ments of style (and con­cise vig­orous writing)” here on Neal Umphred Dot Com. It’s as boring as the title makes it sound—you’d have to give a damn about the most im­por­tant figure and the most im­por­tant book in the his­tory of Amer­ican writing on the inses and outses of writing read­ably! READ MORE

can you be “electrified” by a slam dunk victory?

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I PUT DOWN MY MUG OF COFFEE and reached into my desk drawer and dex­ter­ously pulled out my minia­ture samurai-sword letter-opener with the dropbear-tooth handle. After staring into space for a few sec­onds and mum­bling, “That’s not a knife—this is a knife,” I took a few swipes in front of me with the foot-long blade, voicing the ap­pro­priate martial-arts-movie swooshing-sounds as it cut the air. READ MORE

the hyphen/forward-slash conundrum resolved

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MY PREVIOUS ARTICLE ON DASHES was ti­tled “On Those Pesky Dashes As Punc­tu­a­tion Marks” and ad­dressed the em-dash (—), the en-dash (–), and the hy­phen (-). It should have in­cluded some sug­ges­tions on the proper use of the for­ward leaning slash (/). After all, graph­i­cally the forward-slash, or vir­gule, is just an up­right, slanted dash! READ MORE

on those pesky dashes as punctuation marks

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USE OF THE DASH FOR PUNCTUATION is a lost art in con­tem­po­rary Amer­ican Eng­lish (AmE) and British Eng­lish (BrE) for many writers and ap­par­ently many type­set­ters. It’s a shame, as a well-placed dash or ten can ease the flow of reading and there­fore lead to in­creased un­der­standing and plea­sure. Here I ad­dress the way that I—who use the dash with a near promis­cuous dis­re­gard for the consequences—use both the en-dash and the em-dash in my work. READ MORE

that ain’t no furshlugginer acronym!

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CBDRILONCWRC IS NOT AN ACRONYM! It’s gob­bledy­gook, or at least an ini­tialism that looks like gob­bledy­gook. But it’s CBDRILONCWRC that in­spired “Meet the Acronym That Just Might Save the World,” an ar­ticle by Robinson Meyer that ar­rived this morning in my Mother Jones email newsletter. And it comes with a sub-title: “It’s 12 let­ters long. Good luck pro­nouncing it.” READ MORE