Posted by: episystechpubs | August 26, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Loose Kangaroos

Happy Friday!

Today I have another tidbit for you from the book I Never Knew There Was a Word for It, by Adam Jacot de Boinod. Today is about the Australian brand of English, from p.531.

Loose Kangaroos

Australians, in particular, specialize in scorn for the intellectually challenged. In the 1950s you could have been as mad (or silly) as a cut snake, a hatful of worms, or a Woolworth’s watch. More recently, in the 1980s [KC – Okay, this book was published nearly 10 years ago.], you might have been a couple of tinnies short of a slab or a few snags short of a barbie (where a tinnie is a beer can, a slab is a stack of cans, and a snag is a sausage). Then again, the real idiot or drongo couldn’t blow the froth off a glass of beer, knock the skin off a rice-pudding, pick a seat at the pictures, find a grand piano in a one-roomed house, or tell the time if the town-hall clock fell on them. Other memorable expressions of Antipodean* scorn include there’s a kangaroo loose in the top paddock and the wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.

*The Antipodeans were a group of Australian modern artists who asserted the importance of figurative art, and protested against abstract expressionism. They staged a single exhibition in Melbourne during August 1959.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | August 25, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Bashful, Disgruntle, Unkempt

Unpaired words are words that would appear to have related words but do not. I previously wrote about the unpaired words uncouth, feckless, hapless, reckless, and ruthless. Today, let’s look at three more: bashful, disgruntle, and unkempt.

Bashful

Definition: socially shy or timid; diffident, self-conscious

Etymology: Middle English abaschen ("to lose one’s composure") was shortened to basshen, and then to bash.

Is bashless a word? No, but unabashed is similar in meaning.

Disgruntle

Definition: to make ill-humored or discontented

Etymology: Middle English grunten ("to grunt") became Modern English gruntle ("to grumble"), which is still used in some British dialects.

The prefix dis- usually means "do the opposite of," but in a few words (like disgruntle and disannul), dis- is an intensifier. So a person who is disgruntled grumbles all the time.

Is gruntle a word? Yes, and not just in the British sense of "to grumble." In 1926, someone gave gruntle the secondary meaning "to put in good humor."

Unkempt

Definition: not combed

Etymology: Old English cemban ("to comb") became Middle English kemben, which became Modern English kemb, whose past participle is kempt.

Is kempt a word? Yes. It means "combed." Merriam-Webster says it’s dialectical, but it doesn’t say which dialect.

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

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Posted by: episystechpubs | August 24, 2016

Editor’s Corner: You’re safer with prison

I’m always looking for new and interesting books on grammar, English, words, and other such things to share with you. One of my recent purchases did not end up being a favorite, but I have found a few things I can share with you. This book is called I Never Knew There Was a Word for It, by Adam Jacot de Boinod.

This first piece is from page 447 and is titled “You’re safer with prison.” It is a list of words that mean something completely different in English than they do in other languages. Travelers beware!

· Atum Bom: Portuguese tinned tuna

· Bimbo: Mexican bread (We know this one!)

· Kevin: French aftershave

· Polio: Czech detergent

· Vaccine: Dutch aftershave

· Flirt: Austrian cigarettes

· Naked: New Zealand fruit and nut bar

· Noisy: French butter

· Happy: Swiss chocolate

· Prison: Ugandan body spray

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | August 23, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Associate or Associate’s Degree?

You may be asking yourself, what’s up with Editrix? She hasn’t been giving us her undivided, loving attention these days. We’ve been getting book quotes and articles and etymologies, but some of the questions we’ve asked haven’t been answered yet.

My dear readers, you are always in the spotlight of my mind’s eye, but you are not always at the front of the editing queue. This is our busiest time of the year, and I promise, I still have your emails and will eventually get to them.

But not today; today I’m phoning it in with an excerpt from But Can I Start a Sentence with “But”? Advice from the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A.

Question: I am agitated about the institutional inconsistency on this point and found the College Board to be of no help, so I turn to you. What is the proper treatment of an associate degree? As I have stated it, or is it “associates” or “associate’s”?

Answer: Someday someone will do something about institutional inconsistency, and then we can all retire. Meanwhile, both “associate degree” and “associate’s degree are widely used and they both seem reasonable and logical. Even if the board never decides on one or the other, you can.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | August 22, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Dysphemism

Good morning, everyone.

You’ve heard of euphemisms—tactful words that are used as substitutes for words that could be considered harsh, offensive, or unpleasant (for example, let go instead of fire, correctional facility instead of prison, pass away instead of die). The word euphemism comes from the Greek eu- meaning good or well and pheme meaning speech, voice, or utterance. Euphemisms allow us to speak with sensitivity, but they are also used as doublespeak; we hear many euphemisms from politicians when they want to make something appear less offensive or more palatable.

Today, however, I really want to discuss euphemism’s antonym: dysphemism.

A dysphemism is an offensive or disparaging word or phrase that substitutes for a typically inoffensive word or phrase (for example, quack for doctor, egghead for genius, old man for father or husband, snail mail for postal mail—of course there are many worse dysphemisms, but let’s keep it clean). The word dysphemism comes from the Greek dys- meaning miss or none and pheme (defined above). Sometimes we use dysphemisms to tease or belittle others, but we all know where that kind of behavior leads (Mom was right; it usually ends in tears).

Growing up with two older brothers, I learned about dysphemisms double quick. My younger sister had to deal with both of my brothers and me. I’m a kinder person now, and I feel guilty about all the teasing she had to put up with. That egghead learned to give as good as she got, though.

I’m kidding! She’s not an egghead at all.

I’m kidding again, she really is very smart. See what I did there? I used a dysphemism to both compliment and insult her at the same time. You can thank my brothers for my cruel ingenuity.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

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Posted by: episystechpubs | August 19, 2016

Editor’s Corner: A tiny tidbit for Friday

Hello! Today’s tiny tidbit is from But Can I Start a Sentence with “But”? Advice from the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A. Like the signs below (from our May contest), this Q&A made me laugh.

Question: Is there an acceptable way to form the possessive of words such as Macy’s and Sotheby’s? Sometimes rewording to avoid the possessive results in less felicitous writing.

Answer: Less felicitous than Sotheby’s’s? I don’t think so.

And here are some more photos from our May contest:

From Amber Dolan:

And from Jamie Roller:

Happy Friday!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | August 18, 2016

Editors Corner: Dog days

I recently saw an advertisement for an air conditioning company that said Beat the dog days of summer, which made me wonder how the phrase dog days originated.

Merriam-Webster defines dog days as:

1. the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere

2. a period of stagnation or inactivity

Merriam-Webster also gives this explanation about the origin of this phrase:

The brightest star in the sky is Sirius, also known as the Dog Star. Sirius was given this name by the ancients because it was considered the hound of the hunter Orion, whose constellation was nearby. The Dog Star was regarded by the ancient Greeks as the bringer of scorching heat, because its early-morning rising coincided with the hottest summer days of July and August. The Greek writer Plutarch called this time hmerai kynades, literally, dog daysthe days of the Dog Starand by way of Latin this phrase was translated into English as dog days.

This is how my dog feels about summer:

Jackie Solano | Technical Editor | Symitar

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.542.6711 | Extension: 766711

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | August 17, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Multifarious

Last week, my husband and I drove up to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the Guillermo del Toro museum exhibition At Home with Monsters. It was an amazing collection of paintings, sculptures, skeletons, curios, and film clips from this movie directors home, Bleak House. Anyway, as I was reading one of the descriptions of the collection, I came across the word multifarious, which Id never seen before. I am familiar with nefarious as an adjective, but this made me curious enough to look into these words a little more. Heres what I found in Merriam-Webster.

nefarious (adjective)

: heinously or impiously wicked : detestable, iniquitous

<nefarious schemes>
<nefarious practice>

<race prejudice is most nefarious on its politer levels H. E. Clurman>

Latin nefarius, from nefas crime, wrong, from ne- not + fas right, divine law; akin to Latin fari to speak

multifarious (adjective)

1: having multiplicity: having great diversity or variety: of various kinds

<the multifarious activities of a farm Kenneth Roberts>
<multifarious noise of a great city A. L. Kroeber>

2 of a pleading in law: improperly uniting distinct and independent matters and thereby confounding them whether against one or several defendants

Latin multifarius, from multifariam on many sides, in many places, from multi- + -fariam

bifarious (adjective)

archaic

: twofold, ambiguous <some strange, mysterious verity in old bifarious prophesy Ned Ward>

Latin bifarius, from bifariam in two ways, from bi- 1bi- + -fariam (akin to Sanskrit root dh in dvidh in two ways, dadhti he places, sets)

Photo from LACMA exhibit, by Ray Pennisi

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | August 16, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Maneuver and Manure

Good morning, my friends. Today I have an interesting couple of words for you from Words of a Feather: A Humorous Puzzlement of Etymological Pairs, by Murray Suid. Our language adventure today is all about maneuver and manure. The faint of heart need not continue.

Often, a single root produces words that pull us in very different directions. Take the pair that title this entry.

Maneuver comes from the Old French maneuvre, “manual labor,” which goes back to the Latin manus, “hand.” Manual labor usually involves moving something, and by the eighteenth century maneuver had acquired the meaning of moving military forces. Around the same time, it also came to mean “shrewd operations” in other arenas, such as business and politics.

Manure, on the other hand [KC – I hate it when that happens!], suggests something down and dirty. Also tracing back to manus, manure early on meant using hands to enrich the land with dung. Eventually, the word became a synonym for dung itself.

In those old days, reviving the soil was a noble task. Indeed, until two hundred years ago, the verb manure was sometimes used in the sense of develop—so that you might talk about “manuring one’s mind.” Even into the twentieth century, E.B. White could comment favorably on “the smell of manure and the glory of everything.”

But eventually, as the masses moved from farms to cities, they lost their appreciation of dung, so that today if you told me to “manure my writing skills,” I might reply that your suggestion stinks.

And a very timely photo submission…

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | August 15, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Redundancies (Again)

Hello, kind readers. We have talked about today’s subject before, but I recently found some shiny new examples, so here we go again, talking about redundancies.

When we write for business purposes, we want to be as concise and precise as possible. That means that we should be aware of unnecessary words and phrases (redundancies). We need to get rid of the excess and get to the point!

I found the following examples of redundancies on the Quick and Dirty Tips website. The article was a bit long, so I’ve omitted some of the examples and I’ve truncated what’s left to give you only the crux. It’s still a little long, but it’s worth the time.

Earlier and Later

Examples: “later this week,” “earlier this year”

Consider this sentence: “I’ll get back to you later this week.” Well, it has to be later this week; it’s in the future. It’s sufficient, when discussing an upcoming event, to say, “I’ll get back to you this week.”

The same goes for this sentence, dealing with a past event: “She went to Marrakesh earlier this year.”

An exception would be when striking a contrast between two events and the relative chronology is important. Here’s an example: “The senator said in June that he supported the railroad project. Earlier this year, he opposed the project.”

Future Plans

Example: “Let me know what your future plans are.”

If you’re talking about plans that one has now, they are almost invariably plans for the future. You might modify the word “plans” with the words “immediate” or “long-term” to clarify a timeframe, of course.

If, by chance, you had some plans in the past that didn’t work out, you could toss a “previous” in there, as in, “My previous plans were to become an aerialist, but then I got that inner-ear infection…”

Past History

Examples: “past history” and “past experience”

We can find a comparable situation [similar to “future plans”] with “past history” andpast experience.”

When taken in the opposite direction, time-wise, a modifier would be helpful: “We here at Granite Airlines hope your future experience with us will be far more enjoyable. And we do hope that nasty stain comes out of your suit.” Similarly, one need not prepare ahead of time. To prepare is sufficient.

Please RSVP

Example: “Please R.S.V.P.”

R.S.V.P. stands, of course, for répondez s’il vous plaît and that means “respond, please.” So, “please R.S.V.P.” would mean “please respond, please.” If you’re begging, that’s fine; but really, it’s better to preserve your dignity.

Whether or Not

Example: “I can’t decide whether or not to bring my umbrella.”

Lose the “or not” in that instance, and you’re fine. Just don’t lose your umbrella.

The Reason Is Because

Example: “The reason you love grammar is because you love rules.”

The words “reason” and “because” both represent the same idea. The sentence would be just as clear if you leave either of them out. It could read, “The reason you love grammar is that you love rules,” or “You love grammar because you love rules.”

You Can Say That Again

Let’s close with one a familiar term: “reiterate.” “Let me reiterate,” one might say, usually for emphasis. According to many dictionaries, to iterate is to say or do something again or repeatedly. So, “reiterate” would mean to re-repeat your words or actions.

“Reiterate,” of course, has become the more common term. The savvy writer, though, knows that “iterate” works just as well and that knowledge can be useful.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

Symitar Technical Publications Writing and Editing Requests

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
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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.

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