Posted by: episystechpubs | May 22, 2017

Editor’s Corner: If You Don’t Stand for Something…

In my last post, I wrote about using periods in acronyms and initialisms (tip: don’t do it!). Today, just for fun, I’d like to talk about words that look like abbreviations, but aren’t.

One of our readers recently alerted us to the following sentence, which appeared in The New York Times: “The two examples above – G.P.A. and ACT – provide just a glimpse into the growing field of data and analysis relating to college admissions.”

The New York Times uses periods in initialisms so readers don’t try to pronounce them as words. GPA is an initialism. It stands for grade point average. So far, so good.

But ACT is also pronounced one letter at a time (“A-C-T,” not “act”). Why didn’t The Times put a period after each letter?

Surprisingly, ACT is not an initialism; since 1996, those three letters have been the full name of the test. (From 1959 to 1995, it was called the American College Test.)

The other major college admissions test, the SAT, followed suit. It used to be the Scholastic Aptitude Test. In 1990, it became the Scholastic Assessment Test. Since 1997, it’s just SAT.

SAT is to Scholastic Assessment Test as AT&T is to what?

Words that started as abbreviations but lost their original meaning are called orphan initialisms or empty initialisms.

They usually occur when an organization wants to shift its focus, but doesn’t want to lose its name recognition. For example, AT&T (formerly American Telephone & Telegraph) discontinued telegraph service in 1991. The cable network AMC (formerly American Movie Classics) is best known these days for original shows like The Walking Dead, not classic films.

Here is a partial list of companies and other organizations that have rebranded themselves using just their initials:

· 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company)

· A&E (Arts & Entertainment Network)

· AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)

· ACT (American College Testing)

· AMC (American Movie Classics)

· AMC Theatres (American Multi-Cinema)

· AMF Bowling Centers (American Machine and Foundry)

· AOL (America Online)

· AT&T (American Telephone & Telegraph)

· BP (British Petroleum)

· CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System)

· CNBC (Consumer News and Business Channel)

· Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow)

· ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Networks)

· IFC (Independent Film Channel)

· KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken)

· MTV (Music Television)

· Nabisco (National Biscuit Company)

· SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test; Scholastic Assessment Test)

· Sega (Service Games)

· Texas A&M (The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas)

· TLC (The Learning Channel)

· TNT (Turner Network Television)

· VH1 (Video Hits One)

Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar®
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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 19, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Sprinkles!

Happy Friday!

Today’s Editor’s Corner stems from the following question: What do you call those tiny bits of confectionary, which add a delightful crunch and festive flair to desserts ranging from ice cream cones to doughnuts to birthday cakes? According to this article from Cakespy (via the curious Peggy E.), the answer depends on where you live.

Sprinkles is the term favored in most of the United States, and is actually quite broad: it is used to not only to refer to those tiny cylinders of garnishing magic, but is also used to refer to sanding sugar, nonpareils, and even dragées (those little silver balls that will break your teeth on cakes!).

Sprinkles

Dragées

Jimmies is a term with a fun story: legend holds that the Just Born Candy Company in Pennsylvania (producer of PEEPS candy) began producing sprinkles in the 1930s and, since a gentleman named Jimmy ran the sprinkles machine, the product was named after its maker. While the product in question was specifically chocolate sprinkles (also the best kind to make trompe l’oeil caviar, btw), usage seems to have spread to multicolored sprinkles as well. This term is most commonly used in Pennsylvania, and the northeast United States.

Hundreds-and-Thousands is the term favored in England as well as countries which speak British English; this term seems to refer specifically to the tiny, round type of nonpareil sprinkles.

Hundreds-and-Thousands

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | May 18, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Principal or Principle

Recently, I was caught using the word principle when I should have written principal (thanks, Ron). As penance, I thought Id take a minute to define these two words, which are linguistically related: both terms generate from the Latin word prmus, meaning prime or first.

My mistake occurred because the word principal, when used as a noun, has two meanings. It can mean the chief or head of an organization (like the principal of a school), or it can mean the amount of money that can earn interest. I came to this financial world from a background in education, and I knew that I wasnt talking about the school principal, so, without thinking further (famous last words), I mistakenly used the word principle to mean the amount of money that can earn interest. Oh, so WRONG!

What makes this word pair even more confusing, is that along with serving as a noun (with two meanings), the word principal, can also serve as an adjective that means the most important. For example, Human encroachment and loss of habitat are the principal reasons that tigers are endangered.

The word principle, on the other hand, only serves as a noun, and it means an accepted rule of action or conduct or a fundamental doctrine or tenet. For example, It is against my principles to hide the fact that I used the wrong word (and Ron would snitch on me anyway).

To recap

Principle is a noun that has only one meaning: Rule of action or conduct/fundamental doctrine or tenet

Principal can be a noun or an adjective and has the following meanings:

o (noun): Chief or head of an organization (or most important person in a group)

o (noun): An amount of money that is put in a bank or lent to someone and that can earn interest

o (adjective): Most important

This is a good reminder that spell check doesnt catch everything. We need to review our own writing, and when possible, have Ron (or someone you trust) review your writing, too

.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar

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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 17, 2017

Editor’s Corner: -ussion but not Russian

I want to thank Phil R. for bringing these words (and the etymology of discussion, “dashed to pieces”) to my attention. While concussion, discussion, and percussion sound alike, you might think they are completely unrelated outside of their spelling. In fact, they are all from the same root originally, as you can see in their etymologies below. From my favorite etymology website, Online Etymology Dictionary:

concussion (noun)

c. 1400, from Latin concussionem (nominative concussio) "a shaking," noun of action from past participle stem of concutere "shake violently," from com "with, together" (see com-) + quatere "to shake" (see quash).

Modern brain injury sense is from 1540s.

discussion (noun)

mid-14c., "examination, investigation, judicial trial," from Old French discussion "discussion, examination, investigation, legal trial," from Late Latin discussionem (nominative discussio) "examination, discussion," in classical Latin, "a shaking," from discussus, past participle of discutere "strike asunder, break up," from dis- "apart" (see dis) + quatere "to shake" (see quash).

Meaning "a talking over, debating" in English first recorded mid-15c. Sense evolution in Latin appears to have been from "smash apart" to "scatter, disperse," then in post-classical times (via the mental process involved) to "investigate, examine," then to "debate."

percussion (noun)

early 15c., "a striking, a blow; internal injury, contusion," from Latin percussionem (nominative percussio) "a beating, striking; a beat as a measure of time," noun of action from past participle stem of percutere "to strike hard, beat, smite; strike through and through," from per "through" (see per) + quatere "to strike, shake" (see quash).

Reference to musical instruments is first recorded 1776.

Robitussin® (noun)

From Latin robitussinem (nominate robitussio) “striking the chest hard.”

Reference to cold medication first used in 1951. Recorded in MC Chris’s song, The Tussin, 2001.

Okay, I totally made the last one up, except the part about the song, and it is definitely not safe for work, so no links today!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 16, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Would you like a second helping?

Dear Editrix,

Where did the term "a helping of food" come from?

Reaching out from Redmond

Dear Redmond Reacher,

What a fantastic question! I was hoping I’d find all kinds of stories and information on this idiomatic phrase, but instead, I mostly found definitions, such as “a portion,” and “a serving.”

Looking a little deeper, I found these two etymologies in the Online Etymology Dictionary, which tell a little bit of the story. I hope this helps!

Editrix

helping (noun)

"aid, assistance," late 13c., verbal noun from help (v.). Meaning "act of serving food" is from 1824; that of "a portion of food" is from 1883.

help (verb)

Old English helpan "help, support, succor; benefit, do good to; cure, amend" (transitive, class III strong verb; past tense healp, past participle holpen), from Proto-Germanic *helpan (source also of Old Norse hjalpa, Old Frisian helpa, Middle Dutch and Dutch helpen, Old High German helfan, German helfen), from PIE root *kelb- "to help" (source also of Lithuanian selpiu "to support, help").

Intransitive sense, "afford aid or assistance," is from early 13c. Recorded as a cry of distress from late 14c. Sense of "serve someone with food at table" (1680s) is translated from French servir "to help, stead, avail," and led to helping "portion of food." Help yourself as an invitation, in reference to food, etc., is from 1894. Related: Helped (c. 1300). The Middle English past participle holpen survives in biblical and U.S. dialectal use.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 15, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Scullery

The other evening as I was watching an episode of Peaky Blinders, I heard one of the characters get excited over her new house with a kitchen and a scullery. I thought a scullery was a kitchen, so of course I had to send myself a reminder to look it up and find out the real truth. Here’s what I learned from Wikipedia, and I have to say that Ada should be excited getting both a scullery and a kitchen!

A scullery is a room in a house traditionally used for washing up dishes and laundering clothes, or as an overflow kitchen when the main kitchen is overloaded. Tasks performed in the scullery include cleaning dishes and cooking utensils (or storing them), occasional kitchen work, ironing, boiling water for cooking or bathing, and soaking and washing clothes. Sculleries contain hot and cold sinks, sometimes slop sinks, drain pipes, storage shelves, plate racks, a work table, various "coppers" for boiling water, tubs, and buckets.

The term "scullery" has fallen into disuse in North America, the room being more commonly referred to as a utility room or laundry room.

The term continues in use in its original sense in Britain and Ireland, or as an alternative term for kitchen in some regions of Britain typically Northern Ireland, North East England, and Scotland, or in designer kitchens.

In United States military facilities and most commercial restaurants, a "scullery" refers to the section of a dining facility where pots and pans are scrubbed and rinsed (in an assembly line style). It is usually near the kitchen and the serving line.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 12, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Mother

Sunday is Mother’s Day, so what better topic to discuss than moms? Actually, I won’t talk about your mom if you don’t talk about mine. J Let’s just cover the etymology and a little information from my favorite Online Etymology Dictionary.

mother (verb): 1540s, “to be the mother of.” Meaning “to take care of” is from 1863.

mother (noun): Old English modor "female parent," from Proto-Germanic *mothær (source also of Old Saxon modar, Old Frisian moder, Old Norse moðir, Danish moder, Dutch moeder, Old High German muoter, German Mutter), from PIE *mater- "mother" (source also of Latin mater, Old Irish mathir, Lithuanian mote, Sanskrit matar-, Greek meter, Old Church Slavonic mati), "[b]ased ultimately on the baby-talk form *mā- (2); with the kinship term suffix *-ter-" [Watkins]. Spelling with -th- dates from early 16c., though that pronunciation is probably older).

matron (noun): late 14c., "married woman" (usually one of rank), from Old French matrone "married woman; elderly lady; patroness; midwife," and directly from Latin matrona "married woman, wife, matron," from mater (genitive matris) "mother" (see mother). Sense of "female manager of a school, hospital, etc." first recorded 1550s.

matrix (noun): late 14c., "uterus, womb," from Old French matrice "womb, uterus," from Latin matrix (genitive matricis) "pregnant animal," in Late Latin "womb," also "source, origin," from mater (genitive matris) "mother" (see mother). Sense of "place or medium where something is developed" is first recorded 1550s; sense of "embedding or enclosing mass" first recorded 1640s. Logical sense of "array of possible combinations of truth-values" is attested from 1914. [KC – And you thought it was all about Neo and his adventures with Morpheus and Agent Smith!]

magna mater (noun): fertility goddess, 1728, Latin literally "great mother." See magnate + mother).

metronymic (adj): “derived from the name of a mother or maternal ancestor," 1881, from Late Greek metronymikos "named for one’s mother," from meter (genitive metros) "mother" (see mother) + onyma "name" (see name (n.)).

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 11, 2017

Editor’s Corner: The Top 40 Misspelled Words

You don’t need me to remind you that the English language provides many opportunities to misspell words. Because there are so many exceptions and so many words borrowed from other languages, spelling rules often don’t help much. But Dictionary.com can help! They took the 40 most misspelled words and broke them into eight categories to help us understand why we’re misspelling them.

Now we have no excuse for getting these 40 words wrong. Thanks, Dictionary.com!

Here’s your list of the 40 most misspelled words:

1. You’re using the wrong word.

· its/it’s

· your/ you’re

· there/their/they’re

· then/than

· affect/effect

· advice/advise

· capital/capitol

· conscious/conscience

· loose/lose

· principal/principle

2. You forgot double letters.

· accommodate

· committee

· embarrass

· interrupt

· misspell

· occurrence

· referred

· tomorrow

· vacuum

3. I before E, except after C

· Receive

4. I before E, except after C, except for these weird exceptions

· weird

· height

5. E, not A

· independent

6. S or C?

· license

· necessary

7. It’s actually two words.

· a lot

8. You just need to memorize it.

· definitely

· maintenance

· restaurant

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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 10, 2017

Editor’s Corner: More Body Part Words (Ew!)

Yesterday, we covered a couple words from the Merriam-Webster article, “12 Words That Secretly Come from Body Parts.” Today I have a few more for your reading pleasure.

Cadet

Definition: a student at a military school who is preparing to be an officer

About the Word: There is nothing to suggest that the people who invented the English language (whoever they are) had any animus towards cadets, but it is still puzzling that the term for this aspiring officer should have come from a word meaning ‘small head’. Cadet comes to English from the French word capdet, which is itself descended from the Late Latin capitellum (which is the aforementioned word meaning ‘small head’). Make of it what you will.

Caprice

Definition: a sudden, impulsive, and apparently unmotivated change of mind

About the Word: The origins of caprice are both entertaining and somewhat quizzical. It comes from the Italian word capriccio, which itself is a combination of two distinct words. These words are capo (meaning head) and riccio (meaning hedgehog), in apparent reference to the quality of having one’s hair stand on end. As such, it would seem to be a better etymology for a word denoting terror rather than whimsy, but such are the caprices of language.

Courage

Definition: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

About the Word: Courage comes from the Old French word curage, which draws from the word cuer, meaning ‘heart.’ Another English word descended from cuer (albeit one that has wandered a bit farther afield) is cordial. Both it and courage ultimately can be traced back to the Latin cor, also meaning ‘heart.’ This proves that "You gotta have heart" is not just a line from a song in the Broadway play Damn Yankees, but is also a deeply profound etymological truism. Well, not really, but it does nicely show the connection between the heart and courage.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 9, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Words That Come from Body Parts, Part 1

Good morning, fellow travelers!

Sunday night I went to see The Flaming Lips in concert. It was absolutely the most entertaining concert I’ve ever attended. I’m not sure what was more amusing—having the singer come down into the audience riding a chariot driven by a unicorn, or when he got into a giant plastic ball and rolled into the audience. I’m still picking confetti out of my hair. Anyway, after an evening with The Flaming Lips, this article from Merriam-Webster, “12 Words That Secretly Come from Body Parts,” seemed like the perfect fit.

Here are a couple words to start your day with:

Sarcasm

Definition: a keen or bitter taunt: a cutting gibe or rebuke often delivered in a tone of contempt or disgust

About the Word: Sarcasm, that verbal flourish beloved by supercilious people the world over, has the sort of origin that makes other words jealous. It is descended ultimately from the ancient Greek word sarkazein, which means ‘to tear flesh like dogs’ (or also ‘to bite the lips in rage’ or ‘to speak bitterly’).

Disheveled

Definition: marked by disorder or disarray

About the Word: Some words travel far afield from their roots as they make their way through the millennia. Nice, for instance, is descended from the Latin word nescius, meaning ignorant. Others, such as disheveled, hew closer to their original meaning, while changing enough semantic content to keep things interesting. Disheveled comes from the past participle form of the Old French word descheveler, which means ‘to disarrange the hair.’

The Flaming Lips: Wayne Coyne, Riding the Audience in a Hamster Ball

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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