English as She is Spoke

One of the more delightful books in my personal library is a reprint of the 1883 American edition of English as She Is Spoke, described by Wikipedia as,  …intended as a Portuguese–English conversational guide or phrase book; however, as the “English” translations provided are usually inaccurate or incoherent, it is regarded as a classic source of unintentional humour in translation. Even a quick glance at its … (more–>)

 Writers and reading

This post is about, and for writers, for reporters and editors, for book authors and editors, magazine editors, feature writers, layout artists, copy editors and anyone who either fancies themselves one of these, or has the curious desire to become one (curious because, at least for freelancers, it often involves spending more money on books than you get in income…). If you aren’t in that company, … (more–>)

Fowler for the 21st Century

On the desk of every writer, every reporter, every editor, every PR director and every communications officer is a small library of reference books. A good dictionary (Oxford, American Heritage, Merriam Webster, Random House but gods forbid, never a generic Webster’s). A thesaurus (likely Roget’s). A style guide (CP for Canadians, or AP for Americans… Canadians likely have both).  A dictionary of quotations (because the print … (more–>)

Type Crimes and Taxes

Type crime is the term author Ellen Lupton uses in her book, Thinking With Type, to describe egregiously bad typography. That description came to mind as I perused the latest fluff mailer from our MP; the so-called “Tax Guide.” So-called because it isn’t a guide: it’s the usual, dreary Conservative whack-a-mole propaganda about how great they were when in power and how evil the Liberals are … (more–>)

The Secret to Good Writing

Spoiler alert: the secret to writing well is…. (insert drum roll)… writing. Writing a lot. Every day. Every possible minute you can spare. Writing and writing more and then writing even more. But doing so within a pre-specified limit. Oops… Now we all know that, aside from some local bloggers and EB columnists, most of us get better the more we practice a thing. Writing – … (more–>)

Grammatical Hell in a Handbasket

The Washington Post has started the apocalypse. Yes, they have. And the whole world is about to go to hell in the proverbial handbasket because of it. The maw of Hell has opened… The Post has decided after decades – centuries? – of editors, writers and grammarians arguing about the lack of gender-neutral singular pronouns in English, to accept “they” as the stand-in. Can you see the … (more–>)

A Sense of Pinker’s Style

I share one of Steven Pinker’s passions: I like to read style books, grammar books, language books. To me, they’re like literary chemistry sets. When I was young, getting a chemistry set for Christmas or a birthday opened a whole world to me. I’d explore all sorts of interactions and experiments until I had run out of chemicals to do them with. Used litmus paper littered my … (more–>)

Me, Myself and I Redux

At Collingwood Council meetings, you will always hear someone say “Moved by myself…” when presenting a motion at the table.* Argh! Where did these people go to school? Clearly our education system has failed us if people were raised to say that. And this is in the public record, too. To me it’s like nails on a blackboard. It’s like saying “I seen…” and “yous.” The grammatically … (more–>)

Me, Myself and I

At council meetings across the province, you will hear someone say “Moved by myself…” when presenting a motion at the table. To me it’s like nails on a blackboard. The grammatically correct way to present a motion is, of course, to say, “Moved by me…” So why the mistake? Common misunderstanding and discomfort, it appears, according to the grammar sites I read today. People often (and incorrectly) … (more–>)

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