RE: Robert Lee, Confederates, and Related Nonsense
ESPN announced yesterday (or the day before—it doesn’t matter) that one of their broadcasters, an Asian American by the name of Robert Lee, who was scheduled to cover a football game in Virginia this weekend, was pulled from the assignment because (are you ready for it?) someone might be offended by the similarity of the man’s name to that of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who, as we all know, is offending plenty of folks lately with his frightening statues. What in the world is going on with these pantywaist ESPN execs?
So my question is, where will the insanity end? What’s next in Zanyville, USA? Continue reading “From the Wacky-News Desk”
Here’s an everyday grammar boo-boo we find every day on social media and wall plaques.
It’s easy to forget that “everyday” (one word) is a compound adjective that means “ordinary,” “typical,” “usual,” or “garden variety,” as in “Let me slip on my everyday shoes.”
“Every day,” (two words) on the other hand, means, well, “every day,” as in, “Her husband visits her at the lake every day,” or, “We walk the dog every day.”
The vast majority of the time, we mean “every day,” but every day I see it written incorrectly; it has become an everyday thing on social media and wall plaques. Δ
© Copyright 2017 by Dean Christensen. All rights reserved.
Do you know how to correctly write college degree titles?
The landing gear is down on another academic year as students and faculty make their final approach toward the graduation runway. Many soon-to-be newly minted grads are now wading into the sometimes turbulent, often murky, and always anxiety-producing waters of job hunting.
So let’s think about how to correctly write academic degree titles on résumés, cover letters, celebration invitations, and LinkedIn profiles. This can be confusing, and in my nearly twenty years in higher education—as a counselor, instructor, administrator, and hiring manager—I’ve seen many resumes and applications where the writer apparently didn’t know how to correctly indicate his or her own degree. Stumbling over something so basic may not go over well with prospective employers. It never hurts to get this right. Continue reading “How to Write Academic Degree Titles”
How many of these do you know?
I wrote an article last summer for this blog about “clipped” words—longer words that are commonly shortened—and how to spell them. It’s easy to see how many multi-syllable words came to be abbreviated, because that’s the nature of informal communications. It’s is how we talk, and the spellings of most clipped forms are straightforward. For example, we obviously get phone from telephone, photo from photograph, and bio from biography—all easy to understand and simple to spell. Continue reading “Common Clipped Words and Their Origins”
As millions of Americans will be counting their blessings and gathering with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I thought it would be fun to investigate the origins of several words commonly associated with the holiday. Enjoy!
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Thank comes from the Old English word thanc, which is derived from the prehistoric Germanic thangk, with a root idea of thoughtfulness. The English word think comes from the same root. It’s easy to see how our word for expressing gratitude originated from the concept of thinking or giving thoughtful consideration. A twelfth-century translation of Matthew 15:19 reads, “From the heart come evil thanks.” By the early sixteenth century the same verse was rendered, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts” (KJV). To give thanks is to think about and express one’s gratitude for something. And what better way to say “thank you” than by enjoying a big feast. Continue reading “Five Thanksgiving Words”
Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, coined a term for words created by combining the sounds and meanings of two (or more) different words: he called it a portmanteau [port-MAN-toe] word. The next time something tickles your funny bone and makes you chuckle and snort, you can thank Mr. Carroll for the descriptive word chortle. He also gave us galumph (gallop + triumph, or a triumphant gallop). I challenge you to work those words into a meaningful conversation tomorrow with a loved one, teacher, or client. They will be impressed.
A portmanteau word is created when smoke is blended with fog (=smog), when gigantic is combined with enormous (=ginormous), when information is combined with commercial (=infomercial), when education is combined with entertainment (=edutainment), and when Oxford is combined with Cambridge (=Oxbridge).
Now that we’ve been enlightened by this life-changing term, portmanteau word, here’s a list of ten more, used somewhere in the world every day:
- aerobicize (aerobic + exercise)
- blog (web + log)
- brunch (breakfast + lunch)
- docudrama (documentary + drama)
- emoticon (emotion + icon)
- fantabulous (fantastic + fabulous)
- motel (motor + hotel)
- simulcast (simultaneous + broadcast)
- televangelist (television + evangelist)
- Vitameatavegamin (a portmanteau word on steroids: vitamins + meat + vegetables + minerals. From I Love Lucy, season 1, episode 30.)
Your turn. Please share a portmanteau word you’ve used or have heard used. If it’s your own made-up word, that’s great—as long as it’s one you have actually used with real people. Kindly observe proper netiquette (Internet + etiquette) at all times. Δ
 Linguists use the term blend.
 The source for most of the information in this post is Bryan A. Garner, Garner’s Modern American Usage (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 644.
© 2016 by Dean Christensen. All rights reserved.
Most “God” words are actually “god” words.
When I write a word with “God” in it, I sometimes need to pause to make sure I’m capitalizing—or not capitalizing—the word appropriately. Given my lifelong Christian faith, my first thought is to capitalize almost all such words. If “God” is in it, out of reverence, the word should be capitalized. But is that necessary or grammatically correct?
The truth is, most “God” words are actually “god” words, with lowercase g’s, and writing them according to long-established and widely accepted conventions of Standard Written English does not make a person of faith less faithful. Let’s consider the most common “God” words. I’ve consulted several sources for this, including Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style. Continue reading “How to Write “God” Words”