Posted by: episystechpubs | December 2, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Quotation Marks, Part II

Wednesday, I gave you some information about when to use and not use quotation marks. Today I have your quotation mark “dessert” and a handy table for you from the Chicago Manual of Style about using quotation marks with other types of punctuation. Note that these are American rules for punctuation; the British do things differently from us Yankees.

1. Colons and semicolons—unlike periods and commas—follow closing quotation marks; question marks and exclamation points follow closing quotation marks unless they belong within the quoted matter.

Examples:

Take, for example, the first line of “To a Skylark”: “Hail to thee, blithe spirit!”

I was invited to recite the lyrics to “Sympathy for the Devil”; instead I read from the Op-Ed page of the New York Times.

Which of Shakespeare’s characters said, “All the world’s a stage”?

but

“Timber!”

“What’s the rush?” she wondered.

2. A question mark should be placed inside quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets only when it is part of (i.e., applies to) the quoted or parenthetical matter.

Examples:

The ambassador asked, “Has the Marine Corps been alerted?”

Why was Farragut trembling when he said, “I’m here to open an inquiry”?

Emily (had we met before?) winked at me.

Why did she tell him only on the morning of his departure (March 18)?

“What do you suppose he had in mind,” inquired Newman, “when he said, ‘You are all greater fools than I thought’?”

3. An exclamation point should be placed inside quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets only when it is part of the quoted or parenthetical matter.

Examples:

The performer walked off the stage amidst cries of “Brava!”

She actually wants me to believe the manufacturer’s claim that her watch is “water resistant to 300 meters”!

Alex Ramirez (I could have had a stroke!) repeated the whole story.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | December 1, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Lie, Lady, Lie

Many readers ask about the words lay and lie. Kara has written about this topic three times before, so it’s my turn to try to lay this question to rest.

Here are the definitions of lay and lie (from Merriam-Webster):

· lay: to put or set down

· lie: to be at rest in a horizontal position

Even Nobel Laureates Make Mistakes

Bob Dylan incorrectly uses the word lay in the song “Lay, Lady, Lay” (from his 1969 album Nashville Skyline). Dylan sings, “Lay, lady, lay / Lay across my big brass bed.” Because he is inviting the lady to rest on the bed, he should have sung, “Lie, lady, lie / Lie across my big brass bed.”

If he were instead asking the lady to put something on his bed, lay would be correct (for example, “Lay, lady, lay / Lay a blanket across my big brass bed”).

A Better Mnemonic

When I’m trying to decide whether to use lay or lie, I think of the song “Lay, Lady, Lay,” and then remember that it’s wrong and do the opposite. This isn’t a great mnemonic, but it has worked for me.

Here’s a better mnemonic (which I found in the comments section of a Dictionary.com blog post):

· The word recline sounds as if it contains the word lie. When you’re talking about reclining, use lie.

· The word place sounds as if it contains the word lay. When you’re talking about placing something, use lay.

The Past Tense Is Tricky

The past tense of lay is laid. Most people use this correctly:

· “She lays a blanket across the big brass bed.” (present tense)

· “Last night, she laid a blanket across the big brass bed.” (past tense)

The past tense of lie is lay. In my opinion, this is one of the most confusing irregular verbs in English:

· “She lies across the big brass bed.” (present tense)

· “Last night, she lay across the big brass bed.” (past tense)

Once you have gotten comfortable with lay and lie in the present tense, you can use this rhyme to help you remember the past tense of lie: “Yesterday, I lay by the bay.”

When in doubt, you can avoid the issue altogether by using a synonym like reclined, sprawled, lolled, lounged, or reposed.

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 | November 30, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Crazy Quotation Marks

The other day, we went to breakfast at Café 222 to take advantage of the season and get a pumpkin waffle…delicious! While I was standing by the door, I noticed this sign and started to laugh:

We’ve talked about the overuse of quotation marks before, but I don’t think I could’ve created an example this perfect if I’d tried. This sign uses quotation marks to emphasize these phrases, but the result is that it makes the phrases stand out as something suspicious. Quotation marks are often (correctly) used to indicate a non-standard use of words or a phrase, or to call attention to an unfamiliar concept. The use of quotation marks here makes us wonder what they actually mean by “friendly servers” or what strange definition they have for “keep(ing) your coffee cup full.”

Here is some good information about when to use quotation marks and when not to, from Writing for Business and Pleasure:

Use quotation marks to:

1. Mark direct quotations, as in He said, “Try your best.” (Note that the first word of the quote begins with a capital letter.)

2. Mark titles of shorter works, such as articles, poems, and chapters. (Use italics or underlining for titles of longer works, such as books, plays, and films.)

3. Call attention to a word, phrase, or concept that is unfamiliar to the reader or that is used in a nonstandard way, as in Based on empathy rather than confrontation, “Rogerian persuasion” offers an alternative to classical argumentation.

4. Call attention to a nontechnical term used in a technical sense, as in Deconstructionism explores the meaning of the “signs” of language.

Do not use quotation marks to:

1. Mark indirect quotations or paraphrases, as in Our boss said that we should persevere. (But Our boss said, “Never say die!”)

Note that no comma is used to mark a paraphrase after the word that.

2. Mark a cliché, proverbial saying, or other overused expression, as in “Quality control” is our strength, or We need to do “our very best.”

Sometimes called “winking,” this last example reflects a tendency for writers to disown or apologize for worn-out language. Although the quotation marks are intended to convey “I know this is lazy wording I could have done better, but I didn’t have time,” in reality they tell the reader “If you were more important, I would have taken time to find more appropriate wording but you aren’t, and I didn’t.”

If you are going to use a familiar word or expression, do so without apology.

3. Emphasize a particular word or phrase. Instead, use italics, as in “I am absolutely certain.”

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | November 29, 2016

Editor’s Corner: One moment, please.

Dear Editrix,

I was just loading something on my PC and got the common message “One moment, please.” I was wondering, does a moment have a specific duration… I don’t think so. However, if not, then why do we wait for “one moment”? How long is “two moments” or “ten moments”?

Todd H.

Dear Todd,

I think you’ll find the answer to this question fascinating—I sure did! I was just goofing off and I searched for “How long is a moment?” Surprisingly, the simple answer, 90 seconds, returned in less than a moment. I continued to research on Wikipedia to find out more about this precise definition of a term that I thought was sort of vague and open to anyone’s interpretation.

Editrix

Moment

A moment (momentum) was a medieval unit of time. The movement of a shadow on a sundial covered 40 moments in a solar hour. An hour in this case means one twelfth of the period between sunrise and sunset. The length of a solar hour depended on the length of the day, which in turn varied with the season, so the length of a moment in modern seconds was not fixed, but on average, a moment corresponds to 90 seconds.

The unit was used by medieval computists before the introduction of the mechanical clock and the base 60 system in the late 13th century. The unit would not have been used in everyday life. For our medieval counterparts, the main marker of the passage of time was the call to prayer at intervals throughout the day.

Two circular diagrams showing the division of the day and of the week.

The day is divided into 24 hours, and each hour into 4 puncta, 10 minuta, and 40 momenta. Similarly, the week is divided into seven days, and each day into 96 puncta, 240 minuta and 960 momenta.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 28, 2016

Editor’s Corner: How Often Do You Get Paid?

Good Monday morning, folks.

Have you ever wondered if you get paid biweekly or bimonthly? Maybe you get paid semiweekly or semimonthly.

If you have wondered, you’re not alone. Unless you get paid every single week or only once a month, the terminology we use causes confusion. The dictionary isn’t even much help, either.

According to Merriam-Webster, biweekly means “happening every two weeks,” Oh, and it also means “happening twice a week.”

And Merriam-Webster says that bimonthly means “occurring every two months,” or sometimes it means “occurring twice a month.”

Confusion also occurs with semiweekly and semimonthly. Although semi- means “twice a…” people often misuse it to mean “every two…”

So, what’s a conscientious grammar geek to do? Well, don’t lash out and don’t turn your rage inward. I have a solution! To avoid confusion, don’t use those terms at all. Instead, use the actual time frame. For example, I get paid every two weeks. Or, I get paid twice a month.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 25, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Indian Summer

After an unusually warm weekend in the Bay Area last week, I returned to find this topic in my mailbox from someone having an unusually warm autumn in Utah. One of our favorite clients asked if we’d ever covered the term Indian summer, and I don’t think we have. I always thought it was a hot spell in late September or October, in an area where the weather was cooling off by this time. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, that’s not quite right. Here’s what the old farmers have to say:

When Is Indian Summer?

Here are criteria for an Indian summer:

· As well as being warm, the atmosphere during Indian summer is hazy or smoky, there is no wind, the barometer is standing high, and the nights are clear and chilly.

· A moving, cool, shallow polar air mass is converting into a deep, warm, stagnant anticyclone (high pressure) system, which has the effect of causing the haze and large swing in temperature between day and night.

· The time of occurrence is important: The warm days must follow a spell of cold weather or a good hard frost.

The conditions described above must occur between St. Martin’s Day (November 11) and November 20. For over 200 years, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has adhered to the saying, “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s brings out Indian summer.”

Why Is It Called Indian Summer?

Why isIndian summer called Indian summer? There are many theories. Some say it comes from the early Algonquian Native Americans, who believed that the condition was caused by a warm wind sent from the court of their southwestern god, Cautantowwit.

The most probable origin of the term, in our view, goes back to the very early settlers in New England. Each year they would welcome the arrival of a cold wintry weather in late October when they could leave their stockades unarmed. But then came a time when it would suddenly turn warm again, and the Native Americans would decide to have one more go at the settlers. “Indian summer,” the settlers called it.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | November 23, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Potlucks and Potlatches

I don’t know if it was the chatter about sausage-making a couple of weeks ago or if it was our Toastmasters invitation to people for “Speeches and Free Hot Dogs,” but something had me thinking about potlucks, and I think someone asked me where that word came from. I’ll get to that in just a second.

Before looking it up, I also remembered the word potlatch, something we learned growing up in the Pacific Northwest. A potlatch is a get-together where gifts are exchanged and people celebrate. I wondered if there was a connection between the two.

It ends up that the words developed separately, but they can both mean a meeting of people where crockpots are cooking and the atmosphere is happy and party-like. From my favorite etymology site, here are some definitions:

potluck (noun)

also pot-luck, 1590s, from pot + luck; with notion of "one’s luck or chance as to what may be in the pot." [KC – Something makes me think “luck” and “dinner” shouldn’t be used in the same sentence!] As an adjective from 1775.

potlatch (noun)

1845, "a gift," from Chinook jargon pot-latch, "a gift," from Nootka (Wakashan) patshatl "giving, gift." Later (1865) in sense "ceremony in which gifts are exchanged.”

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
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Posted by: episystechpubs | November 22, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Words with -ine

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 21, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Capitalization

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 18, 2016

Editor’s Corner: I Before E

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve received several photos of the cup (below) and other funny “i before e” tidbits from several of you, and this week—like magic—this article from Richard Lederer showed up on my desk. Here is Mr. Lederer’s answer to a woman’s inquiry about the i before e rule, from the San Diego U-T:

The most renowned of mnemonic spelling jingles advises:

I before e,

Except after c,

Unless sounded as a,

As in neighbor and weigh.

You don’t have to be Sheila Meister to realize that the i-before-e rule is breached as often as it is observed. If you want to find out just how many proper names violate the rule, remember this sentence: “Eugene O’Neil and Dwight Eisenhower drank a 35-degree Fahrenheit Budweiser and Rheingold in Anaheim and Leicester.“ You also don’t have to be an Einstein to see that the name Einstein itself is a double violation of the i-before-e rule, along with the likes of Weinstein, Feinstein, deficiencies, efficiencies, proficiencies and zeitgeist.

Among the scores of instances in which e precedes i in uncapitalized words are these dozen words: caffeine, counterfeit, either, feisty, heifer, height, kaleidoscope, leisure, omniscient, protein, seize, sovereign and therein.

And among more scores of words in which c is immediately followed by ie I offer these dozen: ancient, concierge, conscience, fancier, financier, glacier, omniscient, science, society, species, sufficient and tendencies.

To show how much this rule was made to be broken, I’ve contrived a little poem that I hope will leave you spellbound. In my ditty, I’ve spelled every relevant word according to the “i-before —e, except-after- c” rule; as a result, each of those words is misshapen.

E-I, I-E — Oh?

There’s a rule that’s sufficeint, proficeint, efficeint.

For all speceis of spelling in no way deficeint.

While the glaceirs of ignorance icily frown,

This soveriegn rule warms, like a thick iederdown.

On words fiesty and wierd it shines from great hieghts,

Blazes out like a beacon, or skien of ieght lights.

It gives nieghborly guidance, sceintific and fair,

To this nonpariel language to which we are hier.

Now, a few in soceity fiegn to deride

And, to forfiet thier anceint and omnisceint guide,

Diegn to worship a diety foriegn and hienous,

Whose counterfiet riegn is certain to pain us.

In our work and our liesure, our agenceis, schools,

Let us all wiegh our consceince, sieze proudly our rules!

It’s plebiean to lower our standards. I’ll niether

Give in or give up — and I trust you won’t iether!

If you still don’t believe that I’m telling the truth about the multitudinous violations of the i-before-e-rule, you are welcome to ask the Deity.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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