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Very, very, completely: Keep language crisp and clean

I was alerted to my default descriptive style about two weeks ago. It happened when I ran my own document through spell check prior to a more serious edit and it stopped me at ‘really, really’.

I realised these words were redundant and creating unnecessary hyperbole.

Words and Phrases: Of Mondegreens and Mishearings

Blame the mishearing, blame the accent, blame the frame of reference – these give rise to mondegreens.

“According to the word watcher William Safire of The New York Times, the term mondegreen dates from a 1954 magazine article by Sylvia Wright in which she said she had misheard the folk lyric ”and laid him on the green” as ”and Lady Mondegreen,” says http://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/09/technology/sweet-slips-of-the-ear-mondegreens.html

What’s missing from the language?

alphabet

Have you ever paid attention to the ampersand? Did you know that it and similarly formed words are called mondegreens?

Newspaper style prefers the use of a full “and” only permitting the use of this mondegreen (oh how titillating is the English language?) in a name such as Fick & Sons or Johnson & Johnson.  The ampersand, disrespected as it is in today’s press, had an important place in the history of the English language.

How to deal with your Grammar Gremlins

grammar-gremlin-image

In my job, as sub-editor at a community newspaper, I had to reprimand a reporter for shoddy work.

His report was submitted for subbing with several repeated paragraphs. When I pointed this out to him, he swore it was a systems error.

This was highly unlikely and even if it was, he should have made the necessary corrections to the piece before sending it on for subbing.

How to develop your writing style

Style Master
Ernest Hemingway

Usually I write about grammar, but what about style?

Grammar, if you know the rules, can with effort and dedication be learnt. Style, however, is unique to the individual.  Writing in your own voice almost as you speak, is how you will develop your style.

When you build your unique style, you readers will begin to recognise your work before they see your by line.

Ernest Hemingway used to begin his sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’, that was his style; Dickens used aesthetically complex sentences, and that was his style. So, each writer has his own style, which is the sum of all the writing mannerisms, choice of vocabulary, and grammar constructions. Will your sentences be long or short? Will you use words that are simple or sophisticated?

No comma sense: Three common uses for this little grammar tool

Eats, shoots, leavesI once punned in a headline “No comma sense”.

This referred to a number quoted by a government department which did not know where to put the comma between noughts so it had created an astronomical number, millions more than what was accurate.

With numbers commas and their placing are critical. With words, commas are the most helpful grammar tool, to help make sense of a sentence.

How important is email accuracy?

Street poster
Read all about it

 

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.

Grammar: Prevent or avoid

Beach time
sunlovers beware

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.

English idioms: how they get distorted

The other day, a friend asked, “How do you spell towing the line as in the sense of complying? Is it toing or towing?

This is just one of many examples of how idioms become distorted over time.

Basic English: Four of the most common mistakes

In my job as a sub editor I come across so many basic errors in grammar and the use of unnecessary words.

These are exhibited by junior writers with no more than six months of cub training to senior writers and even contributors who are academics in their respective fields.

These are just a few of the most common.

odio mi, quis Curabitur consequat. ante.