Loss is life changing

I offer my singular condolence: Grammar

One condole or two condolences?

English demands that its users know more than just the meaning of a word.

They also must know how it’s used. It’s not okay to slap just any words together. Some have special ‘partners’.

I didn’t know children came in blue

Children in Africa

Inspired by Sue de Groot’s column in the Sunday Times, I am writing about my own grammar gremlin findings of the past few days.

In this period I read a lot of articles looking for answers to explain the looting, as I am sure many of you did.

Sub-editor needed

In one, I read about a ‘blue childs toy’ – no punctuation and no sub-editor on site – clearly. Unfortunately I do not have a copy of the reference but I remember it well – at the time thinking that even within the flexibility of our very liberal constitution and genetic engineering, we have yet to produce blue children. That’s effectively what the phrase means. Of course, a smart sub-editor, would have changed it to a child’s blue toy – clearly the toy is blue and NOT the child.  I never knew children came in blue… what an enlightened moment.

In more grammar news, Lydia Hoyland writes, “Despite all the trauma and what has stood out even more than the devastation, is how South Africans are standing together as ONE, supporting each other, supporting communities and protecting businesses. The human spirit never seizes to amaze us… Of course, what she means is ‘ceases to amaze’ with the word ‘cease’ to mean ‘stop’.

Homophones:  same sound, different meaning

Sue de Groot writes, “In a recent communique from a published author, I was surprised to read the phrase, ‘a grizzly discovery’. The discovery had to do with old bones and what the writer meant, of course, was ‘grisly’.”

These homophones trip up even the most practiced and accomplished authors – I can recount my own – saying ‘aloan’ when I meant ‘alone’, however, fitting in response to an annoying call for payment.

Sue adds, “It is comforting to know that even the most worthy of wordsmiths can make mistakes, which is why publishers employ editors, and even these exalted beings can occasionally be fallible.”

The joy of learning

A comment on her piece from Peter Doble:  “I consider myself a reasonable wordsmith spanning six decades and have made some real howlers over the years – memorably “umbridge” for “umbrage” (derived from the Latin umbra) and “cow tow” or “kowtow” taken from the Chinese.

“The joy of life is that you never stop learning and as my dear old gran would say ….”always keep the dictionary beside you,” he adds.

I would love to hear about the mistakes that have made you blush in horror at your own word sins and I will be sharing more of my own in the future.

How to alternate the alternative: Grammar

Debug your grammar gremlin

Email accuracy is a must

Is email an art or science? If we consider science as accurately written text and art as anything slapped down on the page, then I would be persuaded to think that email leans towards the latter.

Love what you do?

Loving what you do so that your never ‘work’ a day in your life is a luxury  for the wealthy few. For the rest of us, it’s about learning a skill that we can apply to a craft – and that is still no guarantee of a livelihood.

For writers, job opportunities have thinned down substantially with the discontinuation of many titles and media houses closing down. Those that maintained an online presence, kept a very small staff, leaving slim pickings for the freelance masses.

With my skills set, I decided to jump on the pivot-bandwagon and try teaching English to foreigners. I duly equipped myself with a formal Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification recognised by both British and American governments, and I was on my way.

Impossible earnings

Having secured a contract, I was quite excited to begin this journey, only to discover a gestapo mentality in the management and a penal code so severe it was virtually impossible to earn the measly $5 an hour.  This lasted but a week and I was happy that my exploitation was as short-lived as it was.

Then I returned to my first love, writing, and completed a subbing test which was asking for the best effort. Mine, apparently proved that I was overqualified. They had my CV before sending me the test so this data was not new to them. Was it just a cheap way to get an article subbed and skive out of paying for it?

Scammy stuff

It seems like there are a lot of ‘scams’ posing as decent pay for decent work, but when it comes to putting money in your account, these organisations have a long list of reasons why they won’t.

With unemployment numbers as high as they are and livelihoods on the brink of despair from the added pressures of COVID19, is it expected that those of us with real skills who are willing to make an honest living must take whatever we’re thrown?

Gig economy the smart choice

See the scissors of the sub-editor

Grammar: Prevent or avoid

pic: Unsplash, Matt Chesin:
Prevent accidents by following the rules of the road.

Many practitioners of the English language struggle with word pairs that are seemingly interchangeable, and may just be so in some exceptional cases, but mostly there is a clear distinction between the correct use, and usage which will create grammatical turmoil.

6 Essentials of a Thought Leadership Article

Thought leadership
A place for deep thought

Thought leadership is a relatively young term in the business environment, according to my sources, just 19 years old. Yet, it is one that is well-supported if Google’s 948 million return on search is anything to go by.

The thought leaders of our time include Arianna Huffington, Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, among many,  and my personal favourite Elon Musk.

“A thought leader is an individual or company that is widely recognised as an authority in a specific niche. They are sought out by the media, conferences and potential clients for that expertise.

7 Reasons to Connect with Influencers

Influencer marketing

Now, more than ever, influencer market is part of strategy. It’s all virtual but everybody is doing it and you need to know how to tap in.

My top 10 in how to use capital letters

Pic by Mike Baumeister
The weather is unpredictable – climate change

There’s nothing worse than being tripped up by capital letters. This means having to wade through a long piece of text crippled by incorrectly used capital letters, and not knowing the rules for how to use capital letters. It came to the fore again this week, when clients insisted that every job title was written with a capital letter. That is just not right so please note.

Hard to call someone a horse’s ass: idiom usage

Photo: Iza Grek

Having said good-bye to the last of the Easter holiday makers in Durban, a coastal town in South Africa, we started to make our way home on Monday. On the way back we stopped at Van Reenen just off the N3 that runs between Johannesburg and the province, KwaZulu Natal.

See the scissors of the sub-editor

Pay down cash

Where cash was once king, no-one wants to transact with hard currency, banks charge a fortune for handling the dirty lucre and it’s certainly not safe to be walking around with a stash in your back pocket.

Have no fear – CONTENT is the new king. Content is the king of the ‘interverse’. Everybody wants it, everybody has it and everybody dumps it anywhere and anyhow.