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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Posted by: episystechpubs | June 11, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Inner, inter-, and intra-

Thank you for your questions, everyone! You can always feel free to send them my way. It may take some time to get to them, but we have all the time in the world! Today’s question is about the word inner and the prefixes inter– and intra-. It is actually a two-parter: which of the following is correct, and what are the different meanings?

  • Inneroffice
  • Interoffice
  • Intraoffice

Let’s start with inneroffice. Inneroffice is not actually a word. Inner itself is word (adjective) meaning “situated farther in,” but it is not a prefix that we add to create other words. For example, you might say inner ear or inner sanctum.

Inter– and intra-, on the other hand, are prefixes that you can add to words to create new words. These are just some of the meanings and examples. For more, see Merriam-Webster and the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Prefix Etymology Meaning Examples
Inter From Latin inter (prep., adv.) "among, between, betwixt, in the midst of" (also used extensively as a prefix), from PIE *enter "between, among" (source also of Sanskrit antar, Old Persian antar "among, between," Greek entera (plural) "intestines," Old Irish eter, Old Welsh ithr "among, between," Gothic undar, Old English under "under"), Between, among, in the midst interpolar

interspace

Mutual, reciprocal intermarry

intermesh

intertwine

Between or among the parts of intercoastal

interstate

internet

Carried on between intercollegiate

intercommunication

international

Shared by or derived from two or more interdepartmental

interfaith

Intra From Latin, intra within, from Old Latin interus inward, on the inside Within intraglacial

intracellular

intrastate

intranet

During intranatal

intravital

Between layers intracutaneous
Underneath intradural

Whew! I think we need a puppy after that!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | June 6, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Questions

Dear readers,

It has been a long time since I’ve asked you what you’re thinking about, and inquiring minds want to know! Some of you send me a question now and then, and I love it! Others of you send articles, which are also great. But I have a feeling there may be some of you with things on your mind that you haven’t asked about, so today I’m asking for your input.

Feel free to send me questions on any of these topics:

  • Grammar
  • Parts of speech
  • Vocabulary
  • Word origins
  • Punctuation
  • Definitions
  • Curious, quirky things you’ve noticed about English

It may take some time, but I will do my best to let you know what I find and I will share it with you! Thank you for participating in making Editor’s Corner something fun, interesting, and educational for everyone!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | June 4, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Emigrate and immigrate

Good morning, fellow travelers!

Now and then, I find an interesting tidbit from the Chicago Manual of Style that I like to share with you. Today’s selection isn’t a matter of grammar or punctuation, but it is a set of words that we hear quite often in the news: immigrate and emigrate. What I find interesting is that you can use either word, depending on what you want to emphasize: where the person is going, or where they are coming from. The explanation is as follows:

Q. The emigrate/immigrate distinction has been the subject of differing opinions in our office. Each time a case arises, we consult CMOS 5.250 and come up with different interpretations. Editing the following sentence, for example, we changed “immigrate” to “emigrate”: Justice Abella was born in a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart, Germany, and with her family immigrated to Canada in 1950. Several of us argue that it’s “immigrate” because she’s going to Canada; others say “emigrate” because she’s leaving a past home. Please let us know which is correct.

A. In the example you cite, either term is correct. To emphasize Justice Abella’s departure from Germany, choose emigrate; to emphasize the move to Canada, choose immigrate. In the former case, “from Germany” is understood:

Justice Abella was born in a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart, Germany, and with her family emigrated [from Germany] to Canada in 1950.

You could avoid the issue altogether by choosing “migrate,” but that term is more often applied in relation to movement between regions (e.g., south to north) than to specific countries.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | May 30, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Style Quiz – Redundancy

In these emails, we talk a lot about wordiness, clutter, and redundancy in writing. Well, now is your chance to find out if you’re getting the message. I found a quiz on Daily Writing Tips that gives you the opportunity to correct errors of redundancy by removing unnecessary words. I have a feeling you’re going to ace this quiz.

In the following examples, two words are doing the work of one. All you have to do is remove the unnecessary word. To check your answers and see the explanations, just scroll down to the bottom.

Got your thinking caps on? Go!

Correct errors of redundancy in the following sentences by removing words that repeat the meaning already expressed by other words in the same sentence.

  1. After a few minutes, the hawk was a small speck in the sky.

2. The Medical Examiner was called to the building where a dead corpse had been found.

3. I had to return back to the house to fetch my briefcase.

4. The boss wants us to meet together as soon as possible to address the problem of shrinkage.

5. Buy now and we’ll throw in a printer as an added bonus.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: After a few minutes, the hawk was a small speck in the sky.
Correct : After a few minutes, the hawk was a speck in the sky.

A speck is a small spot.

2.
Original: The Medical Examiner was called to the building where a dead corpse had been found.
Correct : The Medical Examiner was called to the building where a corpse had been found.

The idea of “dead” is included in the word corpse.

3.
Original: I had to return back to the house to fetch my briefcase.
Correct : I had to return to the house to fetch my briefcase.

The verb return includes the sense of “going back” to a place.

4.
Original: The boss wants us to meet together as soon as possible to address the problem of shrinkage.
Correct : The boss wants us to meet as soon as possible to address the problem of shrinkage.

The word together is redundant because to meet means “to assemble a group in one place.”

5.
Original: Buy now and we’ll throw in a printer as an added bonus.
Correct : Buy now and we’ll throw in a printer as a bonus.

A bonus is something extra or added.

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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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.

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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 28, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Apostrophe Reminders

We’ve talked about apostrophes before, but I like the way this article acts as a quick reminder of how they should be used. The full article is available at Daily Writing Tips.

Marking Possessives
Apostrophes are employed in conjunction with the possessive s, as shown in the following examples:

  • singular common nouns: “the farmer’s daughter”
  • singular proper nouns that end in s: “Chris’ job” or “Chris’s job” [KC – We use the
    Chicago Manual of Style which dictates we use the extra “s” after the apostrophe. Not my favorite, but that’s the rule.]
  • plural common nouns: “the farmers’ daughters”
  • plural common nouns that end in s: “the dogs’ bowls”
  • plural proper nouns ending in s: “the Thompsons’ party” (no s at the end of the name); “the Simmonses’ car” (s at the end of the name) [KC – And yes, the rules for singular and plural proper nouns are different. Fie on you, English!]
  • compound words: “mother-in-law’s tongue”
  • separate possession: “John’s and Jane’s houses”
  • joint possession: “John and Jane’s house”

Contractions
Apostrophes mark elision [KC – omission] of one or more letters or numbers, as shown in the following examples:

  • don’t (“do not”)
  • o’clock (“of the clock”)
  • c’mon (“come on”)
  • let’s (“let us”)
  • l’il (little)
  • OK’d (in place of OKed)
  • will-o’-the-wisp (will-of-the-wisp)
  • “rock ’n’ roll” (“rock and roll”)
  • f’c’stle (forecastle) [KC – Yeah, because I’m always too busy to say the entire word
    forecastle.]
  • O’Hara (“of the Hara,” from Gaelic Eaghra)
  • ’60s (1960s)

Plurals of Individual Characters
An exception is made for using possessives to indicate plurals of lowercase letters, as in “Mind your p’s and q’s,” “Label the x’s and y’s,” and “There are two m’s in accommodate.”

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | May 23, 2019

Editor’s Corner: When You Have a Choice, Write Positively

Don’t worry. This is not a self-help article. I’m not going to remind you that your glass is half full or that everyone’s a winner (but it is, and they are, right?). I’m going to discuss how and why to avoid negative constructions in your writing. And I’m going to explain why you should.

A negatively constructed sentence is often harder to decipher than a positively constructed sentence. Negative constructions can also, believe it or not, can trigger subconscious resentment or resistance. People always respond better when they’re told what they can or should do as opposed to what they can or should not.

Look at these two sentences, for example:

  • Don’t make personal phone calls during work hours. (negative)
  • Make your personal phone calls during breaks or before and after work hours. (positive)

Rather than just giving an order, the second example actually provides more information by telling you when it is appropriate to make personal calls.

Here are some other examples. Notice the difference in tone. And also notice that the information is clearer and more instructive in some of the positive constructions.

  • Don’t use sexist language in your writing.
  • Use gender neutral language in your writing.
  • She does not talk much at parties.
  • She is typically quiet at parties.
  • You should not throw bottles and cans in the trash.
  • Please throw bottles and cans into the recycling bin.

Sometimes, people use negative constructions to purposely confuse you or trick you into answering incorrectly.

  • Is it not true that you forgot to take the trash out four days this week?

If you answer yes, are you saying that you did or did not forget? My husband still isn’t quite sure.

Lawyers do this kind of thing all the time:

Question: Is it not true that you were at the scene of the crime earlier in the day?

Answer: Yes, I was not there. I mean, no, I was not there. I mean, I was there at some time. I mean, I wasn’t there that day. I mean, aarrggghhh! I’m going down for this aren’t I? Tell my mother I love her.

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.

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.

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 | May 21, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Reticent and reluctant

I was talking to my dad the other day, and after some pleasantries he launched right into the kind of thing a dad might ask of his Editrix daughter. “Daughter,” he said, “I have a question for you about the words reticent and reluctant.” (Okay, he didn’t say “daughter”—it was probably “Kiddo.”)

His primary observation is that these two words are often used interchangeably, but that they shouldn’t be. He said reticent is more “quiet or reserved,” and that reluctant is more “hesitant.” I wondered if it was yet another set of words that were changing over time, like a lot of words in English. When I checked, I found he is not alone: his observation has been made by others. I found several articles on the internet discussing the differences, including Grammarphobia, World Wide Words, and The Grammarist.

First, the official definitions from Merriam-Webster:

  • reticent: not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily.
  • reluctant: unwilling and hesitant; disinclined.

Now, about the words in general, from World Wide Words:

We are indeed witnessing an extension in sense that has been developing over the past four decades or so, originally in the US but now widely in the English-speaking world. While researching this answer a few days ago, I found an example of the related noun in the Guardian, a British newspaper: “Theatre critics habitually complain about artistic directors’ reticence to tackle untried repertoire.” A few US dictionaries have begun to notice it (recent American Heritage and Merriam-Webster, once regarded as dangerously permissive by purists, now note it as a subsidiary sense), though style guides suggest that it should be avoided and many language watchers are vociferous in disliking it.

Hmmm. So far, four points for Dad. His definitions match with the dictionary and the consensus of the “language watchers.” Now for the etymologies, from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

  • reticent: from Latin reticentia "silence, a keeping silent," from present participle stem of reticere "keep silent"
  • reluctant: "unwilling," 1660s, from Latin reluctantem (nominative reluctans), present participle of reluctari "to struggle against, resist, make opposition," from re- "against" (see re-) + luctari "to struggle, wrestle"

I think that’s two more points for Pops. I’m with him and the “language watchers (who) are vociferous in disliking it.” The difference might be subtle to some, but looking at the definitions and etymologies, I think we should try to use the words as initially intended and defined.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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