medication to treat arthritis

Pronoun Perplexity

It’s necessary for authors to be careful and explicit regarding the use of pronouns when more than one person is present in the context of a discussion. The antecedents of pronouns may be perfectly clear in the writer’s mind, but to a reader it may be anything but.

Consider the following sentence, which seems to make perfect . . . → Read More: Pronoun Perplexity

Nosing Around

A Nose

This article is from the series Meditations from the Track Changes Column

In the course of copyediting, I often find it useful to nose around in (aka research) what great authors of the past did. The sorts of points I seek insights into include examples of word usage, what preposition a verb most often takes, whether . . . → Read More: Nosing Around

Meditations from the Track Changes Column

Page with track changes on

In the course of editing the writing of clients, I encounter much in the way of ticks and bad habits, not to mention sheer ignorance, particularly in the writing of beginners and illiterati — of which I edit more than I’d like — in addition to the usual complement of routine mechanical . . . → Read More: Meditations from the Track Changes Column

Above and Below

Don’t you hate it when you see above and below used as nouns?

This lumpy construction usually occurs when the author wants to refer to material within text in a position relative to where the monstrosity occurs. (More precisely before and after, if you want to get literal about it.)

The above is what I believed at the . . . → Read More: Above and Below

Footnotes Versus Endnotes

My favorite magazine, The Watchtower, has a series of study articles in the July issue that uses endnotes rather than the footnotes it has used almost if not entirely exclusively in my forty-three years of reading the journal. A friend, knowing I’m an editor, asked if I know what the difference is between footnotes and endnotes, . . . → Read More: Footnotes Versus Endnotes

There Are Not All Types of People

“There are all types of people in the world.” So claims an author I’ve been editing. Sounds like a truism, right?

No there’s not.

To say there is sounds as though there’s some master catalog of types, and that someone has checked to be sure there is at least one of each.

There are exactly as many types of . . . → Read More: There Are Not All Types of People

A Letter to One’s Copyeditor

Dear Ed Itor.

Please to find in file word proces is many words of Story, Is very very funny hilarious freinds say (ha ha!) Please to choose salubrious and make nice sentinces with sound is Good English. If maybe some not gentle or Maybe I make masteak, but I did best Ican an dont know masteaks. Am . . . → Read More: A Letter to One’s Copyeditor

Uncircling, Unfriending, and Unfollowing

Image via Wikipedia

Though I don’t maintain an ironclad bullet list of rules about who I follow in my social networks, certain annoyances move me to uncircle, unfriend, or unfollow persons posthaste. (All three italicized words are social networking neologisms.)

Give me full sentences in some reasonable semblance of English. Persons who write habitually in the abbreviated . . . → Read More: Uncircling, Unfriending, and Unfollowing

Chronicles: Volume 1 — Bob Dylan

Cover of Chronicles, Volume 1

Contrary to implications from the title, and also to the customary method of presenting biography, Bob Dylan’s book Chronicles: Volume 1 is not a traditional “Born on a mountaintop in …” chronologically-told tale. We learn bits of the back story throughout the book, enough to be satisfied that Dylan, famous for . . . → Read More: Chronicles: Volume 1 — Bob Dylan

Ulysses by James Joyce — a Reaction

To quote a famous old Alka-Seltzer commercial, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” That was a long song.

If you are searching for an intelligent review of the James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, look elsewhere. The book has been out for a few years. Plenty of literati of all sorts, including hyper-, semi-, and il-, the . . . → Read More: Ulysses by James Joyce — a Reaction

About Legacy Posts

As of July 25, 2011, I have migrated over 130 articles from my Neologistics blog, where since August 2005 I have posted many unsorted articles, including items unrelated to editing, writing, or literature. The articles copied from the old site have all been labeled with the category LEGACY.

It has been a longstanding shortcoming of Google’s otherwise . . . → Read More: About Legacy Posts

A Former al-Qaeda Leader?

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Recently I read a news story that referred to Osama Bin Laden as the “former leader of al-Qaeda”. Former? Ha! Perhaps so in the same way that Hitler is a former Nazi, or Ted Bundy a former serial murderer, if we may refer to them at all in the present . . . → Read More: A Former al-Qaeda Leader?

Simple Signage

Image via Wikipedia

In the venerable British tradition of estate naming, we call our house Haddon Hall. We named it that because we live on Haddon Road in Columbus, Ohio, also in tribute to a beautiful English medieval castle by that name. We would love to put up a sign that says that HADDON HALL — . . . → Read More: Simple Signage

Looking It Over

While I was an engineer at Motorola, I began editing the written work of others on a regular basis, and in doing so, discovered my ability to tear into someone else’s writing and make it better without making the author feel bad. What I did wasn’t a customary or assigned part of my job, so was . . . → Read More: Looking It Over

Soft Pedal vs. Soft Peddle

Image via Wikipedia

Once I used the phrase soft pedal in e-mail to an erudite friend, in a form like this: “I intend to soft pedal my idea so as not to stir up controversy and resistance.” The friend corrected me, claiming that the preferred phrase is soft peddle.

A bit of Google research indicates that . . . → Read More: Soft Pedal vs. Soft Peddle

Right Ho, Jeeves!

Cover of Right Ho, Jeeves

Among P.G. Wodehouse’s most popular novels is the 1934 work Right Ho, Jeeves!, featuring recurring luminaries, the young English gentleman Bertie Wooster and his ingenious and far-cleverer-than-his-boss valet Reginald Jeeves (whose first name is not given in this novel). One measure of this book’s popularity may be seen from the page of . . . → Read More: Right Ho, Jeeves!

Taking a Drink

Image via Wikipedia

When we speak of taking some substance, in the sense of ingesting it, the verb take carries connotations of need, of measured and countable doses designed to satisfy a perceived deficiency.

Most people would not think of taking medicine unless they needed it to combat some physical malady. Each morning, when I make coffee, . . . → Read More: Taking a Drink

Taking Remedial English

Note: This post is a duplicate of the article by the same title on my Neologistics Blog, but here is where I originally intended to put it. I decided that rather than moving it, I would just allow the duplication to exist.

Image via WikipediaOne dismal February morning in 1962, near the beginning of the second semester . . . → Read More: Taking Remedial English

Giving Away My Roots

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

When I lived outside the tiny coastal town of Searsport, Maine, I had a nasty tooth problem and had to hightail it to a dentist. I knew of one in Belfast named — I’m not making this up — Dr. Blood, and his assistant was named Savage. . . . → Read More: Giving Away My Roots

Running Only Four or Five Hours

Long ago I considered running the Mickelson Trail Marathon. It sounded like a good race to me, and besides, I hadn’t run a regular marathon in years; but running it would have required me to travel from Arizona to South Dakota.

When I proposed the idea to Suzy, her initial reaction was: . . . → Read More: Running Only Four or Five Hours

Stephen King and David Foster Wallace Compared

What do authors Stephen King and David Foster Wallace have in common? As authors, other than having been successful — very little. Their work emanates from about as far from opposite sides of the universe as can be.

Their commonality from the perspective of this neologistician is that they are two writers about whom I know far more personally than I do of their written works. . . . → Read More: Stephen King and David Foster Wallace Compared

Reading in Installments

At any given time I have between one and seven books in my Recent Reading stack marked as current. These are books that I really am reading at present.

At this writing there are six on the stack:

Washington: A Life (Ron Chernow)
The Elements of Typographic Style (Robert Bringhurst)

The Associated Press Stylebook
Life (Keith Richards)
Marathon & . . . → Read More: Reading in Installments

Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition

Placeholder for a review soon . . . → Read More: Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition

Having a Thing

People will say “Such-and-such is not my thing.” People with “a thing” have too . . . → Read More: Having a Thing

Acquiring Wealth As a Writer

If I had a nickel for every time I said, “Schmork flump verwissenschatz und geheimlichen zonderfloozles,” I’d have . . . → Read More: Acquiring Wealth As a Writer

Living in a Caboose

Image via Wikipedia

When I learned that a high school classmate moved to Israel to live in a caboose after we graduated, I thought that was a pretty weird choice. It was not until years later that I learned it was not a caboose he moved to, but a kibbutz.

It was still a strange choice, . . . → Read More: Living in a Caboose

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve just finished reading a new book (2010) by David Lipsky, the title of this post. It’s about a five-day road trip author David Foster Wallace took in 1995 at the behest of Wallace’s publisher Little, Brown to promote his then new novel Infinite Jest, with Lipsky in tow, on assignment from Rolling Stone . . . → Read More: Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself

Moby Dick

Never read it. . . . → Read More: Moby Dick

Jefferson the Neologist

Image via Wikipedia

In answer to some people who stodgily protested certain Americanisms that had crept into the writing of Jefferson’s founding requirements regarding the University of Virginia, he defended himself by asserting that as new discoveries are made, new words must be invented to name them. Continuing along that line, he said:

And give the word neologism . . . → Read More: Jefferson the Neologist

Take the Money and Run

Image via Wikipedia

Wise and experienced persons ones solemnly proclaim, fingers a-wagging, that money and material prosperity do not bring happiness.

Duhh! Everyone knows that, but some who preach this less than profound truth seem to opine from the point of view that most people think that if they only had more money and material prosperity they . . . → Read More: Take the Money and Run

Pale Fire — Vladimir Nabokov

Cover of Pale Fire

Vladimir Nabokov‘s 1963 novel Pale Fire appears on a number of lists purporting to identify the greatest novels of the twentieth century. I wouldn’t dare to attempt a literary analysis of Pale Fire. It’s been a staple of literature classes for over forty years, and countless reviews and scholarly . . . → Read More: Pale Fire — Vladimir Nabokov

Ultrarunning Hyperbole

Image via Wikipedia

Certain tainted words occur repeatedly in journalism about ultrarunning, all of which cause noisy alarms to go off in my head whenever I see them. The four most frequent culprits are:

crazy
grueling
test[ing] limits
extreme

Rarely have I ever read an article about ultrarunning by a non-ultrarunner that does not use the word crazy to describe the . . . → Read More: Ultrarunning Hyperbole

Bone — Jeff Smith

Cover of Crown of Horns (Bone, Vol. 9)

Cover of Crown of Horns (Bone, Vol. 9) Exactly one year ago today Suzy and I attended the world premiere of a documentary about comic book artist Jeff Smith, who is from Columbus area, and a graduate of The Ohio Statue University. Smith is famous in . . . → Read More: Bone — Jeff Smith

Self Improvement

Image via Wikipedia

One day in 1972, while browsing in a book store in Manhattan, I stumbled across a 246-page, cartoon filled self-help pocket book with the eyebrow-raising title How to Develop Your Thinking Ability—A guide to sound decisions by Kenneth S. Keyes, Jr., which I purchased on impulse for a whopping $2.45.

Given . . . → Read More: Self Improvement

Drivel

Here are some thoughts I’ve wanted to express for a long time.

Yesterday I thought of a great mnemonic device, but I forgot what it was. I’m fully aware of the irony of this situation. Or maybe I was just looking for a way to use “irony” in a sentence.
Have you ever noticed? There . . . → Read More: Drivel

The Consummate Word

Image via Wikipedia

P.G. Wodehouse.

What he said.

How he . . . → Read More: The Consummate Word

A Thought on Literary Precision

Image via Wikipedia

Compare the consequences of a lack of a single punctuation mark in English and in software. Imagine what would happen if high school students were not permitted to graduate for failing to insert a quotation mark in an essay.

I’ve heard the likely apocryphal story of how the lack of . . . → Read More: A Thought on Literary Precision

Chips Off the Workbench

Welcome to my verbal webcam. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, as I’ve been busy with work and the upcoming race Across the Years. Meanwhile, here are a few thoughts that pass through my eccentric mind.

When people ask me why I run so much at my age I tell them I’m hoping to be . . . → Read More: Chips Off the Workbench

The Most Secure Place in the World

Many adventure and sci-fi movies show scenes of top secret highly secure fortresses surrounded by armed guards and protected by more hi-tech gear than the Pentagon can afford. Each of these movies leaves you convinced that there couldn’t possibly be a more important place in the world.

What might be found in the . . . → Read More: The Most Secure Place in the World

Fantastic Writing

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

At this moment my wife is sitting in the living room watching Lord of the Rings. I tried watching it when it first came out, but fell asleep, and have had no further interest in watching the others. I also fell asleep watching the first Harry Potter movie, . . . → Read More: Fantastic Writing

Icy Warts

Image via Wikipedia

… or maybe the title should be Eye Sea Wards.

When I hear or speak words, I see them spelled out in my head. Similarly, when I read I tend to see the letters in individual words, so that when called upon to read out loud, I rarely mispronounce words, unless . . . → Read More: Icy Warts

Why Do I Write?

Image via Wikipedia

Recently I posted a comment to an excellent article written by a friend on Ergo Sum. What I wrote works well as a standalone thought, so I decided to post it here as well.

Why do I write? One reason is to teach myself.

Whenever I begin to write something — as I have . . . → Read More: Why Do I Write?

Exhalations

I’m pathologically incapable of reading a sentence under the control of an editor and not editing it. In fact, I’m doing it right now!
I’m having one of those experiences where an action produces a repeatable but seemingly unrelated reaction, so remote as to seem impossible. It’s like turning on the car radio . . . → Read More: Exhalations

Rant on Writing

This diatribe was originally foisted upon a class of unmotivated and nearly illiterate university students. It was my job to attempt to teach them something about Unix and Linux, while also demanding, as a matter of school policy, that they upgrade their largely nonexistent writing skills.

If you write well, you will be . . . → Read More: Rant on Writing

Micro-Thoughts Redux

Don’t you hate it when people keep using words like redux?
Before my life changed I was a composer. People sometimes ask me: “What kind of music did you write?” I wrote UN-popular music. Some titles:

Neglected Concerto
Unknown Symphony
Songs Without Words or Music

People who never read are ignorant, and they show it. It’s easy to tell . . . → Read More: Micro-Thoughts Redux

Life Is Dangerous

Image by penreyes via Flickr

Life is getting to be too dangerous. My bathroom scale has a warning on it not to use if I’ve got a pacemaker. (I don’t.) My toothbrush and razor came with instructions on how to avoid electrocution while using them. A person could die just getting up and . . . → Read More: Life Is Dangerous

English As a Second Language for Native-Borns

Image via Wikipedia

There was a high school physics teacher who subscribed to a mail list I once belonged to. Everyone disliked him because he was an idiot and most of what he said was both ignorant and offensive.

He was nearly illiterate — a scary fact given that he was a teacher of . . . → Read More: English As a Second Language for Native-Borns

Micro-Thoughts

Image via Wikipedia

Some people have things to say and some people have to say things.
There are c. 6.5 billion people in the world. If the average person lives 76 years, 27740 days, It means that throughout the world an average of 236880 people, a nearly a quarter of a million, die every . . . → Read More: Micro-Thoughts

Latest Blog Articles

Blog Categories

History