How to Write Academic Degree Titles

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”

Unusual Words Associated with Christmas

Do you know where all ten of these Christmas terms came from?

The Christmas season is “the most wonderful time of the year” for many of us. Just think of all the words we use during no other season—which makes them “unusual.” The following ten words are among them. [Please do feel free to share this article and my blogsite.)

advent-candles1. Advent – Advent is derived from the Latin word for “the coming.” By the end of the sixth century, Pope Gregory I had instituted in the Roman church the practice of conducting a special mass on each of the four Sundays leading up to “the coming” of the Christ-child. Similar to Lent, the season of Advent included fasting and penitence followed by a time of celebration. Eventually, the penitential nature of Advent gave way exclusively to the celebratory nature. Today, Advent is still celebrated in many churches, with each Sunday featuring a different theme, such as the prophecies of Jesus’ birth, the Annunciation to Mary, the visitation of the angels and shepherds, or the gifts of the wise men. Continue reading “Unusual Words Associated with Christmas”

It Was a Great Series Irregardless

Should we ever use “irregardless”?

cubs-logoCongratulations to the Chicago Cubs for breaking their 108-year World Series championship drought. I’m an LA Dodgers fan, but I appreciate the Cubs’ achievement and give them kudos for it. It was a great Series, in which the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

Early in the deciding seventh game two nights ago, announcer Joe Buck used the word irregardless. I heard him and made mental note of it because irregardless is not accepted English usage, something well known to language mavens. I didn’t think any more of it—after all, this was a live, unscripted television broadcast, and even the most scrupulous grammar police can slip up on occasion. But evidently it sorely bothered a lot of folk, who took to social media to complain. Merriam-Webster Online even joined the fray with a supercilious attempt to put word nerds in their place by asserting that irregardless is in fact a word and is in the dictionary. Here’s a line from their article: “Irregardless last night reared its monstrous head, and, bellowing its unspeakable name, caused a nation of terror-stricken waifs to whimper and mewl.”[1] Continue reading “It Was a Great Series Irregardless”

Lay or Lie?

Let’s sort out the confusion.

Lying Dog
Spot is lying in his favorite place.

One of the most widely committed grammar errors is using lay for lie. This confusion is nearly universal. Writers and speakers everywhere get it wrong. All the time. Popular songs through the years haven’t helped, either. Think of Bob Dylan’s “Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed,” and Eric Clapton’s “Lay down, Sally, and rest you in my arms.” And let’s not forget Simon and Garfunkel’s huge hit “The Boxer,” which laments of “running scared, laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters where the ragged people go.” Unfortunately, the lays in these examples are all wrong. Now we have an entire generation or two of adults who think that “lay” or “laid” are the only correct forms of the verb, and that “lie” refers to the claims of presidential candidates and Olympic swimmers.

Let’s see if we can sort out the confusion. Continue reading “Lay or Lie?”

Does the Sportscaster Commentate?

Is that acceptable English usage?

Track RacersYesterday while watching the Olympics I heard the announcer say that a colleague would be joining him to “commentate” during an upcoming event. Is commentate a word? Or is it just another sportscaster-created back-formation,[1] a jargon word that needlessly turns commentator into a verb? I wasn’t sure, so I had to look it up. (Aren’t you glad some people worry about these things so you don’t have to?) Here’s what I discovered.

Continue reading “Does the Sportscaster Commentate?”

Clippings: How to Spell Words We Commonly Shorten

Impress your friends and amaze your family.

microphone-1074362_1280
My name is … Mick?

Speakers of English tend to shorten or truncate longer words, both in writing and speaking. That’s the way we are; it’s normal. We call such truncated words clippings. Sometimes we drop the initial syllable or syllables. Examples are airplaneplane; hamburgerburger; and telephone → phone.[1] When we drop the ending syllable or syllables, we have, for example, popular pop; publicpub; and techniciantech.[2] Occasionally, we have both the beginning and the ending of the word dropped, leaving us with influenzaflu; and refrigeratorfrig. Wait. Frig? Get me a cold one from the frig? Hmmm. More on that one below.

When it comes to writing clipped words, how do we spell them? Here’s the general principle: We most often spell a clipped word as it sounds, not necessarily as a sliced off version of the longer original. Occasionally, therefore, the spelling will be a little different. Here are three common examples: favorite, microphone, and refrigerator. Continue reading “Clippings: How to Spell Words We Commonly Shorten”

My Choice for President? It’s a Hobson’s Choice.

An unpolitical reflection on a most appropriate term.

SONY DSCI’ve always counted it both a privilege and a duty to exercise my constitutional right to vote, and this November will be my eleventh presidential election. While I have typically voted for my party’s official candidate, I have been known to diverge from party affiliations when it seemed appropriate. Often the choice seemed a no-brainer: one candidate clearly stood for my cherished ideals—which, in my mind, were American ideals.

Election Choices

The choice in my first election, in 1976, was . . . well, let me say, a little difficult. There was Jimmy Carter, the affable peanut farmer from Georgia and upstart candidate of the Democratic Party, and there was the staid and dependable but uninspiring incumbent, Gerald Ford, the unfortunate soul who inherited the job two years before after the unprecedented mid-term resignation of his embattled predecessor, Richard “I Am Not a Crook” Nixon. Mr. Carter—truly a nice man—lasted one term and thankfully gave way to his successor, who in my exceedingly humble opinion was one of our nation’s greatest presidents, Ronald Reagan.[1] Continue reading “My Choice for President? It’s a Hobson’s Choice.”