Posted by: episystechpubs | December 11, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Deck the Halls

On Sunday, my husband and I went over to our friends’ house, where we celebrated Hanukkah and ate latkes. (Latkes are made of a shredded potato mixture, fried into a little “pancake” of sorts, and served with sour cream and apple sauce. Delicious!) We aren’t Jewish, but we are always up for trying new things, especially celebratory things!

The house we were in belongs to a family who celebrates Christmas, and I noticed that they had “decked the halls” with boughs of some type of evergreen. And that brings me to the word of the day: deck. Usually, when I hear deck, I don’t think of it as a verb. I think of the noun version, like a deck of cards or a deck on a house. Here are some etymologies of both the noun and verb use. No matter what holidays you celebrate, now you will know what it means when you deck your halls with any kind of decoration! From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

deck (noun)

mid-15c., dekke, "covering extending from side to side over part of a ship," from a nautical use of Middle Dutch dec, decke "roof, covering," from Proto-Germanic *thakam (source also of thatch (n.)), from PIE root *(s)teg- "to cover."

Sense extended early in English from "covering" to "platform of a ship."

Meaning "pack of cards necessary to play a game" is from 1590s, perhaps because they were stacked like decks of a ship.

Tape-deck (1949) is in reference to the flat surface of old reel-to-reel tape recorders.

Deck-chair (1844) so called because they were used on ocean liners. On deck (by 1740) was in nautical use especially "ready for action or duty;" extended sense in baseball, of a batter waiting a turn at the plate, is by 1867. To clear the deck (1852) is to prepare a ship for action; it is perhaps a translation of French débarasser le pont.

deck (verb 1)

"adorn, array or clothe with something ornamental" (as in deck the halls), early 15c., from Middle Dutch decken "to cover, put under roof."

deck (verb 2)

"to knock down," by 1955, probably from deck (n.) on the notion of laying someone out on a ship’s deck. Compare floor (v.) "to knock down." Related: Decked; decking.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | December 6, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Is It Ever Necessary to Underline Text?

When I was in elementary school, I was taught to underline book titles regardless of whether I was typing or writing by hand. Now, I use the Chicago Manual of Style, which says to italicize book titles.

I was curious whether the Chicago Manual of Style ever calls for underlining text, so I did a search. The closest it comes is, “Occasionally, boldface or underscore (also called underlining) is used for emphasis. In formal prose, especially in print, italics are usually more appropriate.”

In another section, it says, “Underlined words in a quoted manuscript may be printed as italics, unless the underlining itself is considered integral to the source or otherwise worthy of reproducing” (for example, when transcribing handwritten letters).

Underlining hasn’t gone the way of cursive writing just yet, however. In the digital world, underlining is the de facto standard for indicating that a word or phrase is a hyperlink. Using italics for emphasis instead of underlining avoids confusing sentences such as, “I insist that you visit the Editor’s Corner blog.”

Additionally, as anyone who’s submitted a document to Symitar® Editing can attest, when you use tracked changes in Microsoft® Word, underlining indicates an insertion (like this).

The bottom line is, there are still various uses for underlining, but they do not include adding emphasis to a word or phrase or citing books or periodicals. In those cases, use italics instead.

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar®
8985 Balboa Avenue | San Diego, CA 92123
619-682-3391 | or ext. 763391 | www.Symitar.com

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | December 4, 2018

Editor’s Corner: What can you wreak?

Dear Editrix,

In the midst of exerting restraint from drinking at work while anxiously awaiting the election results, I wondered why we say, “wreaking havoc.” I don’t recall wreaking anything else (although my seat mate on the bus is frequently reeking of garlic) and we don’t seem to wreak anything happy like “wreaking joy.”

Perhaps you could explore “wreaking havoc”?

Fondly,

Your devoted reader

Dear devoted reader,

I would love to explore wreaking havoc! I have several ideas about how to do just that at my next holiday party!

No, I would never do something like that. J I did, however, investigate this term, because like you mention, we don’t ever hear about people wreaking positive things such as love, joy, and happiness. Here is some interesting information I found in an article about people misusing the phrase, saying “wreck havoc” rather than “wreak havoc.” From the Oxford Dictionaries blog:

The word wreak means “to cause or inflict” and is usually paired with nouns meaning either “a large amount of damage or harm” (as in wreak havoc or wreak devastation) or “vengeance” (as in wreak revenge). Although it would sound somewhat archaic today, the word wreak can also be used alone, without an object, to mean “avenge.”

On the other hand, the verb form of the word wreck, means to “destroy or severely damage (a structure or vehicle)” or “spoil completely.” Because wreck does not have the sense of “cause” or “inflict” like wreak does, the phrase “wrecking havoc” is illogical.

Using that definition of wreak, you can see that it would be tough to “wreak joy,” since that would mean “to cause, inflict, or avenge joy.” Inflict is another word that isn’t associated with pleasant things. In fact, let’s have a quick look at that word, too. From Etymology Online:

inflict (v.)

1560s, "assail, trouble;" 1590s, "lay or impose as something that must be suffered," from Latin inflictus, past participle of infligere "to strike or dash against; inflict," from in– "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + fligere (past participle flictus) "to dash, strike" (see afflict). You inflict trouble on someone; you afflict someone with trouble. Shame on you.

On that note, I’d like to say, “Have a lovely day!”

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 29, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Put Me Last

Good morning! Several of you have asked me about whether the pronoun me comes before or after another noun or pronoun in a sentence. For example, should you say, “My sister is coming to visit Dan and me”? Or should you say, “My sister is coming to visit me and Dan”?

This is not a topic I remember covering in any of my English or grammar courses, but instinctively, I have always put me after the other noun or pronoun.

I did some research and found that most experts agree that you should put me last. If you have a hard time remembering, it might be helpful to think of this etiquette rule: it’s always polite to put yourself last.

Oddly, we don’t seem to have the same uncertainty with the pronoun I.We know it goes last. You rarely hear, “I and Jenny are going to lunch.” But the pronoun me, for some reason, causes people more trouble.

Maybe now it won’t. You simply have to remember to put yourself last. Mom would be proud.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

Symitar Documentation Services

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 27, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Last Names

Good morning!

I hope you all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving last week! Of course, five minutes after the holiday, stores started blaring Christmas music, the neighbors put up lights, and visions of Santa Claus and sugar plums are dancing in my head. Even though I’ve lived in Southern California for 27 years, it still seems a bit surreal to be wearing shorts and a tank top while the Joneses drive home with a Christmas tree strapped to their station wagon, and people on TV are bundled up in parkas and drinking hot cocoa.

But what does this have to do with English? Well, one of the most common problems I see and hear about during this time of year is how to address cards and make certain names (like Jones) plural. Yes, for those of you who still send cards or invitations to holiday parties, there is a proper way and an improper way to pluralize last names. Here is an article by Kate Brannen on the topic, complete with a handy-dandy chart at the end to help you out. To read the frequently asked questions at the end of the article, you can click here. Enjoy!

How to Make Your Last Name Plural This Christmas Season

Nothing quells my Christmas cheer as quickly as a stray apostrophe. Every year they assault me.

Usually it’s in the middle of an otherwise quaint moment: I am padding around my parents’ house, wearing pink slippers, sipping on some hot chocolate. Snow is falling outside the window, and Josh Groban’s Christmas CD is filling the downstairs with peace on earth and mercy mild. My mother is baking a pie. She’s about to ask if I want to lick the spatula (which, duh, I will).

First, though, I find a stack of Christmas cards and begin to flip through them—pausing to marvel at how big so-and-so’s kids have gotten. And then I spot it: an apostrophe in a last name that isn’t supposed to be possessive.

I shudder, flipping past the unwarranted punctuation. But as I keep flipping, the apostrophes do, too—flipping me off, that is. They defile Christmas card after Christmas card, last name after last name with their presence. Gone is my Christmas cheer! All my glad tidings, replaced with fury.

“Did no one teach these people how to make their last names plural!?” I scream as I chuck the cards into the fire heretofore crackling peacefully beneath the mantel.

I watch the cards curl and disintegrate in the flames, and I wonder if I’ve overreacted.

Is pluralizing last names more difficult than I realize? Apparently so. Because we get these cards every year—these cards with their adorable photos and their apostrophe catastrophes.

This year I’d like to preempt the pluralization problems. It’s mid-November now, time to order Christmas cards again. I have created a brief guide to help you pluralize your last name. It is my humble attempt to preserve not only apostrophe protocol but also the dignity of the letter S.

The Definitive Guide to Pluralizing Your Last Name

Last letter(s) of last name What should you add to make it plural? Does it need an apostrophe?
a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h (see exceptions below), i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, t, u, v, w, y -s NO
s, x, z, ch, sh -es NO

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 20, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Thanksgiving, Richard Lederer-Style

I was keeping my eye open for something related to the upcoming holiday, and then I finally gave up and decided to write an article for you about proofreading. I know, I sure know how to party!

But today, I arrived at work and waiting on my desk was an article by Richard Lederer, the original verbivore. Here is an excerpt from his article “Thanksgiving is a Time When We Truly Eat Our Words.” (Thanks for supplying us with something entertaining, Ron!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is mainly a celebration of the harvest, giving thanks for bountiful crops. Traditionally, a particular meal in 1621 is thought to be the first Thanksgiving. Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians sat down together to an autumn feast of venison and wild fowl.

Many of us decorate our homes with traditional signs of fall, such as the cornucopia, gourds, and autumn leaves. The cornucopia, or horn of plenty, is a representation of a hollow goat’s horn, overflowing with fruit and other produce.

This is a good time, then, to nibble on a tasty spicy, meaty, juicy honey of a topic that we’re sure to savor and relish. I’m talking about culinary metaphors that are packed like sardines and sandwiched into our everyday conversations. Let’s explore the role of the staples salt, meat and bread in your daily vocabulary to see how every day you eat your words and say a mouthful.

The ancients knew that salt was essential to a good diet, and centuries before artificial refrigeration, it was the only chemical that could preserve meat. Thus, a portion of the wages paid to Roman soldiers was “salt money,” with which to buy salt, derived from the Latin, sal. This stipend came to be called a salarium, from which we acquire the word salary. A loyal and effective soldier was quite literally worth his salt. Please don’t take my explanations with a grain of salt. In other words, you don’t have to sprinkle salt on my etymologies to find them tasty.

We think of carnivals as traveling entertainments with rides, sideshows, games, cotton candy and balloons; but the first carnivals were pre-Lenten celebrations — a last fling before penitence. The Latin word parts are carne, “meat, flesh,” and vale, “farewell,” indicate that the earliest carnivals were seasons of feasting and merrymaking, “a farewell to meat,” just before Lent.

Companion derives from the Latin com, “together,” and panis, “bread.” You and I are companions because together each week we break the bread of language. That wage earners are called breadwinners reminds us of the importance of bread in medieval life. Not surprisingly, both lord and lady are well-bread words. Lord descends from the Old English hlaf, “loaf,” and weard, “keeper,” and lady from hlaf, “loaf,” and dige, “kneader.”

So here’s a toast to all those subtle culinary metaphors that add spice to our English language. Does that use of toast relate etymologically to the familiar slice of heated bread? In a word, yes. In the days of Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare, it was common practice to dip a piece of spiced toast into the bottom of one’s tankard of ale or glass of sack (a bitter sherry) to improve the flavor and remove the impurities. The libation itself thus became “a toast,” as did the gesture of drinking to another’s health.

I offer a toast to you, my wordstruck readers: “Here’s champagne to our real friends, and real pain to our sham friends!” Thank you for being real friends of language.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 15, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Smothered Verbs Quiz

Many of you have told me that you enjoy an occasional quiz, so for you sadists, happy quiz day! I found this quiz on Daily Writing Tips. It’s a good one to help us avoid unnecessary words that clutter our writing. This quiz will help you identify and revise “smothered verbs.”

But first, what is a smothered verb? It’s a verb-noun combination (often also including an article or preposition) that can easily be replaced by a simple verb. The noun in this combination is often a word that ends in –tion, –sion, –ment, –ance, or –ence. An example of smothering a verb is to write “have a discussion” rather than “discuss.”

  • Your manager wants to have a discussion about your goals for this year.
  • Your manager wants to discuss your goals for this year.

In the previous example, one word replaced four. Here’s another example of a smothered verb followed by an uncluttered revision:

  • How many clients do you expect to be in attendance?
  • How many clients do you expect to attend?

Got it? OK. Now that you know what a smothered verb is, are you ready for the quiz? The quiz questions are below. Scroll down to see the answers. Good luck, amigos!

Each of the following sentences includes a smothered verb. Revise the sentences as necessary for conciseness:

  1. The committee will hold a meeting this Wednesday evening at seven o’clock.
  1. I will make a decision after studying the criteria you have given me.
  1. We hope someone can provide an answer to this political question.
  1. A school counselor’s job is to give advice to the students.

5. Please take into consideration the suggestion your father made.

Answers and Explanations

In order to improve sentences containing smothered verbs you simply need to replace them with the original verbs.
Example: Her guardian has made provision for her in his will.
You should replace “has made provision” with “provided.”

1.
Original: The committee will hold a meeting this Wednesday evening at seven o’clock.
Correct: The committee will meet this Wednesday evening at seven o’clock.

2.
Original: I will make a decision after studying the criteria you have given me.
Correct: I will decide after studying the criteria you have given me.

3.
Original: We hope someone can provide an answer to this political question.
Correct: We hope someone can answer this political question.

4.
Original: A school counselor’s job is to give advice to the students.
Correct: A school counselor’s job is to advise the students.

5.
Original: Please take into consideration the suggestion your father made.
Correct: Please consider the suggestion your father made.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

Symitar Documentation Services

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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Posted by: episystechpubs | November 13, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Belated Veterans Day

Hello, everyone!

Since we’re only writing Editor’s Corner twice a week, I’m a little late with this one. My apologies! We observed Veterans Day yesterday, but I wanted to acknowledge and thank our veterans in a different way today, by looking at some of the words we use in English that come from the world of warfare. This is only a partial list, but if you’d like to see more, go to Daily Writing Tips.

army: from medieval Latin armata (“army”)—also the source of the Spanish term armada, meaning “war fleet”—referring to a nation’s entire body of land forces or to one major unit of that body

brigade: from Italian briga (“quarrel”), a word for a unit consisting of thousands of soldiers or, by extension, to any large group of people organized according to common belief or toward achievement of a common goal; brigadier is a military rank for someone in command of a brigade, and related words are brigand (originally meaning “soldier” but later denoting a bandit) and brig and brigantine for types of warships during the Age of Sail (the use of the former as prison ships led to brig being applied to military prisons)

corps: from Latin corpus (“body”), a set unit of tens of thousands of soldiers; by extension, also a more or less numerous group of people involved in the same activity, such as the press corps or a corps de ballet, or ballet company

fleet: from Old English fleotan (“float”), a set unit of military naval vessels or the entirety of such vessels belonging to a navy or to a company; by extension, now also applied to collections of vehicles, such as a group of cars owned by a company or a government agency and available for employees’ use

legion: from Latin legere (“gather”), originally a Roman military unit equivalent to a modern brigade; now, vaguely describes a multitude

platoon: from French pelaton (“little ball”), originally referring only to a set unit of about several dozen soldiers and by extension coming to mean a squad of athletes with a common function (such as offensive and defensive teams in football) or any group of people with a common characteristic or goal

regiment: ultimately from Latin regere (“lead straight” or “rule”), regimen was adopted into English to refer primarily to a fitness or health plan, but its cognate regiment refers to a military unit of about a thousand or more soldiers; to regiment is to control strictly

squad: ultimately from Vulgar Latin [KC – Ooh, I love me some vulgar Latin!] exquadrare (“make square”) by way of Middle French esquade, initially denoting a set unit of about a dozen soldiers but later also referring in general to a small group engaged in an activity (see also squadron)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 8, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Appraise or Apprise

Apprise means, “give notice to” or “tell.” It usually implies communicating something of special interest or importance, as in the following examples:

  • They apprised him of his rights.
  • Keep us apprised of the situation.

Appraise means, “set a value on” or “estimate the amount of.” It often refers to judging the monetary worth of a thing (as in the first example below), but it may be used of any critical judgment (as in the second example).

  • They are having their house appraised.
  • The critics appraised the actor’s career.

Some people mistakenly say appraise when they mean apprise. To avoid this mistake, remember that appraise sounds like (and is etymologically related to) the word praise. After you appraise something, you might praise it.

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

Did someone forward this email to you? Click here to subscribe.

Don’t want to get Editor’s Corner anymore? Click here to unsubscribe.

Do you have a question or an idea for Editor’s Corner? Send your suggestions or feedback to Kara, <a href="mailto:DBurcher, Jackie, or <a href="mailto:BRitter.

Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar®
8985 Balboa Avenue | San Diego, CA 92123
619-682-3391 | or ext. 763391 | www.Symitar.com

Symitar Documentation Services

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message,
together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 6, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Inquire vs. Enquire

Recently, one of you asked me about the difference between the words inquire and enquire. My first thought was that they are two different spellings of the same word, one used by the U.S. (inquire) and the other by the U.K. (enquire), but looking a little further, I found that there’s a bit more to it than that.

From Daily Writing Tips:

These are two spellings of the same word, which means to seek information about something or to conduct a formal investigation (usually when followed by “into”). The corresponding noun is enquiry or inquiry.

Either spelling can be used, but many people prefer enquire and enquiry for the general sense of “ask,” and inquire and inquiry for a formal investigation:

[KC – I stepped in and changed the examples a bit.]

· Jane enquired about the handsome boy’s name.

· The most common student enquiry at the “Lost and Found” desk is “Did someone find a black umbrella?”

· Detective Morgan was sent to inquire into the incident.

· Nittle, Nattle, and Frattle, Attorneys at Law, finished the inquiry Friday and sent the results to the court the following Monday.

In practice, enquire and enquiry are more common in British English, and inquire and inquiry are more common in U.S. English, for both informal questions and formal investigations. However, the Guardian (a British newspaper) tells writers to “use inquiry” and the Oxford English Dictionary seems to recognize inquire as the more dominant form, deeming enquiry:

”An alternative form of INQUIRE. The modern dictionaries give inquire as the standard form, but enquire is still very frequently used, esp. in the sense ‘to ask a question’.”

That being said, I think in the U.S. you are probably safest using inquire or inquiry, unless you’re talking about the National Enquirer, in which case nothing is safe or sacred!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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