Posted by: episystechpubs | July 18, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Amount vs. Number

The words amount and number can be used as nouns or verbs. Today, we’re going to discuss how to use them appropriately when they are nouns and refer to “the quantity of something.” Let’s roll.

You should use the word amount for things you cannot count individually (like damage, salt, or interest). We call these mass nouns. Some examples will help. Look at how amount is used in these sentences:

  • It is hard to know the amount of damage the injury has done to his shoulder.
  • What’s the correct amount of salt for this recipe?
  • The amount of interest due each period depends on the loan balance and the number of days in the period.

That last example is a two-for-one: it uses both amount and number. You cannot count the interest individually, but you can count the days.

On the other hand, you should use number for things you can count individually (like dogs, friends, and questions). We call these count nouns. Look at how number is used in these sentences:

  • When you go to the park, count the number of dogs Tinker plays with.
  • Tim is always trying to increase the number of friends he has on Facebook®.
  • Could you believe the number of questions Jenna asked during the meeting?

The most common mistake people make is to use amount when they should use number. Here are some real-life examples of sentences that incorrectly use amount:

  • Episys offers an unlimited amount of Tracking records per member account.

  • There are no limits to the amount of checking accounts one member can have.

If those two sentences sound wrong to you, now you know why. Do you want to test your skills? Take this test from the English Test Store website. Enjoy your day!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

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 | July 16, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Bathos and Pathos

Hello readers! Today I have some interesting information for you on two literary devices from The Grammarist: bathos and pathos. But first I must say, you have no idea what I suffer through during my research for you. The Grammarist has the most disgusting “click bait” on their website. Sometimes I can hardly make it through the material because of the toe fungus remedies and the bladder control issues that the people on the medication Metformin supposedly have. Why people, why?

Okay. I will suffer through it to bring you new, and hopefully interesting, tidbits about our language. From the people who are supported by ads of guys putting twigs in their ears to cure tinnitus, The Grammarist:

Bathos isa noun and a literary term that describes a situation in which a serious, emotional and heartfelt story full of genuine insight and emotion suddenly sinks to contemplate something trivial or everyday. Bathos is an anticlimax, it is banality. If the writer intends to stir deep thought and emotions in the reader, bathos will sabotage that intention. It is an anticlimax to an idea full of sentiment and meaning. Synonyms of the word bathos that may be found in a thesaurus are anticlimax, letdown, mawkishness. Bathos is usually a transgression performed by poor writers, though bathos may be used by comedy writers to great effect. Consider the Groucho Marx quote: “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” The word bathos was coined by Alexander Pope in 1728 in his essay, Peri Bathous, from the Greek word bathos, which means depth.

Pathos is a noun and a literary term that means to invoke deep or sentimental emotions or feelings in the reader, especially empathy, pity, sympathy, sorrow and longing. Pathos is used in fiction to inspire a depth of sentiment in the reader, but it is also used in persuasive arguments to appeal to the listener in a fundamental way. Synonyms of the word pathos that may be found in a thesaurus are poignancy, sentiment, tenderness. Aristotle described the use of pathos to persuade the listener in an argument of logic. The word pathos has been in use in the English language since the mid-1600s, derived from the Greek word pathos, which means feeling, emotion, calamity.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | July 11, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Yours truly

Recently, I reviewed different ways to greet people in email and business letters. Today, I have a list of different ways to close your correspondence. In honor of JHA’s third consecutive year on America’s Best Employers List by Forbes, I’m honoring Forbes by sharing a portion of their article called 57 Ways To Sign Off On An Email with you. (Click the link for the entire article; I cut out some closings that were weird, grammatically awkward, or just inappropriate.)

  • Best – This is the most ubiquitous; it’s totally safe. I recommend it highly and so do the experts.
  • My Best – A little stilted.
  • All the best – This works too.
  • Bests – I know people who like this but I find it fussy. Why do you need the extra “s?” [KC – Okay, this is horrible! It’s so horrible I left it in here to share with you.]
  • Best regards – More formal than the ubiquitous “Best.” I use this when I want a note of formality.
  • Regards – Fine, anodyne, helpfully brief. I use this.
  • Warm regards – I like this for a personal email to someone you don’t know very well, or a business email that is meant as a thank-you.
  • Thanks – Cynthia Lett, a business etiquette consultant, says this is a no-no. “This is not a closing. It’s a thank-you,” she insists. I disagree. Forbes Leadership editor Fred Allen uses it regularly and I think it’s an appropriate, warm thing to say. I use it too.
  • Thanks so much – I also like this and use it, especially when someone—a colleague, a source, someone with whom I have a business relationship—has put time and effort into a task or email.
  • Thank you – More formal than “Thanks.” I use this sometimes.
  • Many thanks – I use this a lot, when I genuinely appreciate the effort the recipient has undertaken.
  • Thanks for your consideration – A tad stilted with a note of servility, this can work in the business context, though it’s almost asking for a rejection. Steer clear of this when writing a note related to seeking employment.
  • Thx – I predict this will gain in popularity as our emails become more like texts. Lett would not approve. [KC – Kara would not approve either. Spell it out, folks. And certainly don’t abbreviate with a letter that’s not even in the original word.]
  • Hope this helps – I like this in an email where you are trying to help the recipient.
  • Rushing – This works when you really are rushing. It expresses humility and regard for the recipient. [KC – I wouldn’t recommend this. Even if you are rushing, you don’t want people to think you are not taking your time with them.]
  • Sincerely – Lett also likes this but to me, it signals that the writer is stuck in the past. Maybe OK for some formal business correspondence, like from the lawyer handling your dead mother’s estate.
  • XOXO – I’ve heard of this being used in business emails but I don’t think it’s a good idea. [KC – Uh, yeah, I definitely wouldn’t use this…unless it’s for Dave Foss.
    J]

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | July 9, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Hello, dear!

Hello, my fellow language lovers!

Today we’re going to talk about greetings and salutations in email and other places. Yes, we’ve discussed them before, but of all the requests I received recently, this was the topic asked about most.

Let’s look at the punctuation. According the Chicago Manual of Style:

In correspondence, a comma typically follows the greeting, though a colon may be used instead (especially in formal correspondence).

  • Dear Kara, . . .
  • Hello, Kara, . . .
  • To Ms. Diedre Star:
  • Dear Kara:

If the greeting itself consists of a direct address, two marks of punctuation are needed (i.e., the comma in the direct address and the colon or comma following the greeting). [KC – From Grammar Girl, you can also use a period after the person’s name if you are ending the sentence there, or an exclamation point if you are really excited.]

  • Greetings, Board Members:
  • Hello, Margo, I’ll see you soon!
  • Good morning, Batman, I just wanted you to know that I told Alfred he could have the day off.
  • Hi, Bob.
  • Hello, everybody!

The first mark is often left out in casual correspondence.

  • Hi Todd,
  • Hello Marguerite,

I hope I’ve answered your questions. Next up: signing off when you send an email or business correspondence.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | July 2, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Capitonyms

Recently, I watched Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The main topic for most of the audience was Mount Everest, but the main topic for me was a new word he introduced when talking about Sherpas, a Tibetan people, and sherpas (lowercase “s”) the people that help mountain climbers on their treks up the mountain. Oliver said Sherpa was a capitonym: a word that changes its meaning when capitalized.

Here are some other capitonyms I found. For a more complete list, click here.

Capitalized Lowercase
Alpine: of or related to the Alps alpine: (adj.) relating to high mountains; living or growing in high mountains; (n.) an alpine plant
Arabic: of or relating to the Arabic language or Arabic literature arabic: (gum) arabic, also called gum acacia, a food ingredient, arabic numbers (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9)
August: the eighth month of the year august: majestic or venerable
Cancer: 1. a constellation and astrological sign. 2. a genus of crab. cancer: a class of diseases.
Catholic: relating to the Catholic Church (usually the Roman Catholic Church) (adj.); a member of that church (noun) catholic: free of provincial prejudices or attachments; universal
Earth: a planet earth: the dry land of this planet
Ionic: relating to Ionia or to a style of classical architecture ionic: relating to (chemical) ions
Italic: of, or relating to Italy italic: pertaining to a sloping typeface or font
March: the third month of the year march: to walk briskly and rhythmically
Marine: member of the United States Marine Corps marine: something produced by the sea
May: the fifth month of the year may: modal verb
Mercury: a planet; the messenger god of the Romans mercury: chemical element number 80 (symbol Hg)
Mosaic: pertaining to Moses mosaic: a kind of decoration
Nice: a location in France nice: pleasant
Pole: a Polish person pole: a long thin cylindrical object; various other meanings
Reading: the county town of Berkshire, England, or any one of 17 populated areas in the United States named after it reading: gerund or present participle of the verb to read, meaning to decode text or other signals.
Scot: a native of Scotland scot: a payment, charge, assessment, or tax
Scotch: from or relating to Scotland, or a form of whiskey scotch: to put an end to (especially rumors)
Turkey: a country in the Middle East turkey: a bird, often raised for food
Western: relating to European culture western: of the west or relating to western films or television programs

Courtesy of John Oliver’s Everest Photo Page

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

As promised, here is the meat from the Fast Company article on the importance of writing well:“This skill makes you more employable, no matter the role.”

HERE ARE SEVEN TIPS FOR BECOMING A BETTER WRITER:

1. Read a lot, ideally from as early an age as possible. In my experience, the best way to become a great writer is to read. A lot. Reading expands your vocabulary, solidifies your grammar, enables you to draw inspiration from great writers, and more. So read before bed. Read on your commute if you take public transportation. Read whenever you have time, all the time.

2. Review everything you write. I’m not perfect, but I review everything, including emails. This helps ensure my writing is free of mistakes. Take the extra few seconds to give your writing one more read. It’s worth it! [KC–And take advantage of your company’s editors: it is our job to make you look good.]

3. Use as few words as possible to communicate your meaning. Less is almost always more. Nobody wants to read a 200-word message that could have easily been 50.

4. If there’s a simpler word, use it. Good communication is about getting your point across in the easiest way possible for the reader to digest it. Quite simply, simple words work best. There’s no need to say you “disseminated” information when you sent it.

5. Make sure your points are parallel. Now we’re getting into the weeds a bit, but I certainly notice this one. Failing to use a parallel structure can degrade otherwise good writing. For example, if five of the six qualifications on your resume begin with verbs but one doesn’t, that single outlier will feel “off” and make you look less qualified.

6. Use anecdotes and examples wherever you can. A story is worth 1,000 words. Adding one whenever possible helps you connect with the reader so they remember your message.

7. When it matters, have someone edit your work. We all miss mistakes in our own writing. At NakedPoppy, the clean beauty startup I co-founded, we have our resident grammarian comb through every single social media and blog post before it goes live. [KC–Oh look, more about editing! I didn’t found a startup, and I’m not a naked rose or poppy, but my team and I sure love editing, so don’t be shy. If a client is going to see
what you’re writing, it matters. Run it by us first.]

Writing is an outlet for your intelligence to shine through. That’s why, regardless of your field, improving as a writer will help you succeed.

It’s never too late to learn what makes great writing. If your writing chops need work, here’s my advice: pick up a copy of The Elements of Style or Revising Prose and take a workshop or an online class.

But remember that nothing is more important than reading often. When you read great books and articles, you’re learning at the feet of the masters.

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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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 | June 25, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Importance of Writing at Your Job, Part 1

Good morning, everyone! The other day, my fearless leader, Jill, sent me this article to read from Fast Company. I thought it was too good not to share, so today you get a preview—the reason behind the article. On Thursday, I’ll send you a link and the “meat” of the topic. Enjoy!

This skill makes you more employable, no matter the role by Jaleh Bisharat

I’ve found that one of the most interesting predictors of success is being a good writer—even if the job itself doesn’t require much writing. For this reason, I emphasize hiring good writers and encourage team members to prioritize writing skills. Almost every time I’ve broken the “hire good writers” rule, I’ve regretted it.

For the past 25 years, I’ve asked for a writing sample from job candidates. I don’t request they create something new (because I think it’s important that job candidates not have to complete anything resembling “free work”). Any piece of writing is useful, as long as you wrote it entirely yourself.

Why care so much about this?

BECAUSE EVERY COMPANY BENEFITS FROM GOOD WRITING—BOTH INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY.

Here are three reasons why being a good writer is important, and why writing is a skill worth focusing on, no matter your job description:

1. Good writing correlates with crisp thinking. Writing provides excellent insight into the way someone’s mind works. Good writers have well-structured thoughts and an orderly outlook. Who doesn’t want great thinkers on their team?

2. Clear, persuasive communication is the underpinning of a successful professional. Other skills matter a great deal, of course, but you’ll go further if you can express yourself well in writing. Whether you’re communicating with partners, customers, or coworkers, the way you write influences how people view both you and your company. Clear communication builds confidence and creates more productive relationships.

3. If you’re a good writer, there will always be work for you to do. And if you’re not a good writer, there will sometimes be more work for your boss to do, because if they care about how you or the company is coming across, they’ll have to fix your written work.

And remember, here at JHA we think this is so important that we have free editing services at your disposal. If you have client-facing documentation that is Symitar-related (credit unions), check out the services we offer on the Symitar Editing page. If you have JHA-related (banking) content, have a look at the JHA Editing Services site.

Now that you know good writing is important, I will share the seven tips to help you improve…on Thursday!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | June 20, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Algonquian

Good morning, folks! You know me, I can’t pass up an opportunity to learn about where our language comes from. Today, it’s not French, or German, or words that Shakespeare invented. Today I have 15 words from an article called “55 American English Words Derived from Algonquian Languages.” For the full list, you can go to Daily Writing Tips.

American English has been enriched by the widespread adoption of words based on vocabulary of Native American tribes, including the many tribes that spoke (and, in some cases, still speak) one of the Algonquian languages of what is now eastern North America. The following is a list of such terms, more or less commonly used, most of which refer to animals or plants or products derived from them.

1. caucus (Algonquian): a group of people who meet to discuss an issue or work together toward a goal; also a verb

2. chipmunk (Odawa): any of various small rodent species that are part of the squirrel family

3. hickory (Powhatan): a type of tree or its wood, or a cane or switch made of the wood

4. hominy (Powhatan): soaked and hulled corn kernels

5. husky (based on shortening of the Cree word from which Eskimo is derived): a type of dog; the adjective husky is unrelated

6. moose (Eastern Abenaki): a species of large antlered mammal

7. muskrat (Western Abenaki): an aquatic rodent

8. opossum (Powhatan): a marsupial (sometimes possum)

9. pecan (Illinois): a type of tree, or the wood or the nut harvested from it

10. persimmon (Powhatan): a type of tree, or the fruit harvested from it

11. pone (Powhatan): flat cornbread; also called cornpone, which is also slang meaning “countrified” or “down-home”)

12. raccoon (Powhatan): a type of mammal noted for its masklike facial markings, or the fur of the animal

13. skunk (Massachusett): a type of mammal known for spraying a noxious odor in defense, or the fur of the animal; also, slang for “obnoxious person” [KC – I decided to look up the word for “skunk” in a few other languages, just to see if they were anything close to this. German was very close:
skunk. French actually makes it sound so cute: moufette. Italian sounds kind of naughty:
puzzola. And in Spanish, it sounds almost exotic: zorrillo.]

14. squash (Narragansett): any of various plants that produces [sic] fruit, also called squash, that is cultivated as a vegetable; the verb squash, and the name of the ball-and-racquet game, are unrelated

15. succotash (Narragansett): a dish of green corn and lima or shell beans

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | June 18, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Cop-out

“Hey, Kara.”

“Yes, Tony?”

“Can I write an opening to a document like this, or is it a cop-out? Hey, and what’s up with the term ‘cop-out’?”

Yes, that’s how IMs go sometimes. And then I gather the hounds and try to track down the explanation to some of the weird things we say in English. As a verb, to “cop out” is to avoid something you should do, like shirking your responsibilities. As a noun, a “cop-out” is an excuse or means of avoiding whatever it is you should be doing.

But where did it come from? Here’s what the World Wide Words folks say. (Note: it is a British article, so the punctuation and some spelling may be different than ours.)

It’s first recorded about the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, meaning to take something for oneself (“He simply can’t lose, can’t fail to cop out the best-looking girl with the biggest bank-roll in town”. That’s from The Fortune Hunter, by Louis Joseph Vance, published in 1910). This was based on one of the many standard English senses of cop — to snatch, steal or grab. Around the 1930s, cop out began to take on another of the senses of cop — to catch or apprehend (which is what a cop in the sense of a policeman does, a slang term which came from the same source but rather earlier). To cop out here meant to plead guilty, especially to a lesser charge as the result of plea bargaining.

The big change came in the 1950s. To cop out evolved to refer to making a full confession of some crime or misdemeanor, usually but not necessarily to the police. From this it moved to mean backing down or surrendering, or giving up your criminal or unconventional lifestyle; in the 1960s it developed still further to mean that a person was evading an issue by making excuses or taking the easy way out.

In parallel with this, your noun form, a cop-out, developed from the late 1950s onwards until it, too, became nationally known in the mid-1960s (and quickly spread to Britain and other countries, too) to mean an excuse, a pretext, a going back on your responsibilities to avoid trouble, a cowardly or feeble evasion.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | June 13, 2019

Editor’s Corner: In or Within?

Good morning!

A couple of people have asked me if there is a difference between the words in and within. The quick answer is yes. But to give you the exact reasons, I did a little research. Here is what I found:

  • in: (preposition) denotes inclusion or location
  • within: (preposition) inside the boundaries or limits

So, the difference is that within has the more distinct meaning of “inside the boundaries or limits” of something else.

These examples may help:

  • Leslie lives in Roxbury.
  • Roxbury is an officially recognized neighborhood within the city of Boston.
  • The fireworks display takes place in two days.
  • Fireworks are illegal within the city limits.
  • New job assignments are in the works.
  • You must finish the job within one week.

A lot of people use within when in is the more appropriate choice. Maybe they think within sounds more professional or more formal. Maybe they think the two words are interchangeable, and to be honest, most people wouldn’t notice if you used within when you should have used in. Maybe, in the future, the words will be listed in dictionaries as synonyms (words that mean the same thing) because so many people use them that way. But for now, we do make a subtle distinction. And since you know what it is, you can be one of the few, one of the proud. Oh wait, that’s the Marine Corps slogan. You can just be unique and smug, then.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

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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