Posted by: episystechpubs | August 18, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Worcester

Just the other day I received an email asking me how to pronounce Worcestershire, followed up with the question “Why is it pronounced that way?” Pronunciation questions are tough, since we do a blog rather than a podcast. I’ve been debating how I would handle this, and then the internet genie answered my wish in the form of an email article from Grammar Girl. Thank you, genie o’ mine!

From Grammar Girl’s podcast:

Why Is ‘Worcester’ Pronounced ‘Wooster’?

I lost the name of the person who asked me why we call the fermented sauce we use in Caesar salad, deviled eggs, and bloody marys “Worcestershire sauce,” but it turns out the answer is simple: it was first bottled in Worcester county in west central England.

If you’re only hearing me pronounce the word in the podcast, it would be nearly impossible for you to guess how it’s spelled based on the pronunciation. It’s pronounced “woo-stuh-sher” but it’s spelled W-O-R-C-E-S-T-E-R-S-H-I-R-E, so more like “whor-ses-ter-shire.” How did the pronunciation become so different from the spelling?

Well, first, it’s not the only place name to be like this. “Gloucester” and “Leicester” both also have the “-cester” ending that isn’t pronounced like “cester.” As some of you may know, in ancient times, England was part of Rome, and the Romans spoke Latin. That “-cester” ending comes from Latin and means “camp,” so it seems pretty likely that these were areas where Romans set up camp. Since that was in the 4th century, records aren’t perfect, but one map of the era does, for example, show a Roman army encampment in Gloucester.

Vowel Reduction

I couldn’t find an absolute reason that the pronunciations are so different from the spellings, but there is a linguistic phenomenon called vowel reduction that means that unstressed vowels tend to get dropped, and at least in some cases it’s more common in British English than in American English. For example, in American English we say “secretary” and “February,” but in British English, the words are more likely to be pronounced with vowel reductions so they sound like “secretry” and “Februry.”

Haplology

And there’s another common way that words are shortened that’s at play with “Worcestershire.” It’s called haplology, and it’s the tendency for people to drop a syllable when it’s similar to the syllable next to it. For example, haplology is the tendency that caused the Old English name “Anglaland” to become “England” and the tendency that leads people to pronounce “probably” as “probly,” and linguists believe it may be why the middle “ces” in “WorCEStershire” disappeared, leaving us with “Woostusher.”

Place names in particular seem to be especially prone to shortening. The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics says that the pronunciation of place names is more likely to erode to an abbreviated form than the rest of a language’s words. And A Dictionary of London Place Names gives the example of how a street originally called “Candle-Wright Street” eventually became reduced to “Cannon Street,” although in that case it appears that the spelling eventually changed to reflect the new pronunciation.

Finally, going back to the beginning and thinking about the deviled eggs that I mentioned also made me wonder why we call them “deviled.” Is it like “french fries” where the word “french” means to cut something in long strips and is completely different from the country name?

Nope. Deviled eggs are about as straightforward as “Worcestershire sauce.” Deviled foods are made with hot, spicy seasonings such as pepper and paprika, and the name is just a nod to the idea that the devil is often associated with fire.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | August 17, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Writing Tips

Daily Writing Tips offers excellent advice for improving our writing in an article called “10 Tips for Clean, Clear, Writing” by Mark Nichol.

It’s a long article, so I’ve cut it short, and I’m going to give you only five of the tips today. I’ll give you the other five next week.

1. Use vivid verbs. Monitor your writing for excessive use of forms of “to be”—is, be, and their variants—and other helping verbs such as has, as well as other weak verbs like do and go, and replace with active verbs. [dbb – OK. This one is not so relevant for technical writing, but it is for marketing and most other types of writing. Rather than saying, “My sister
is loud when she talks on the phone, it is more vivid to say, “My sister bellows when she talks on the phone.”]

2. Reword or delete clichés. Think outside the box. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. All (fill in the blank) are not created equal. These. Are. So. Lame.

3. Always use the serial comma. When listing more than two things, include a comma before the conjunction [dbb – and, but, yet, etc.] preceding the final item. Omitting the comma can prompt ambiguity about the list’s organization, but inserting it never contributes to confusion. [dbb – Can I get a hallelujah?]

4. Avoid scare quotes. Generally, use “scare quotes” only to signal that the writer is calling out the quoted content as being dubious or ironic, not to introduce an unfamiliar term. [dbb – We do use quotation marks, when necessary, to introduce unfamiliar terms. I did some research and found that Mr. Nichol wrote a previous article called “When in Doubt, Leave Scare Quotes Out,” in which he asserts that
people are too heavy-handed in their use of quotation marks to introduce unfamiliar terms, which is true—I think that’s what he’s referring to here.]

5. Hyphenate phrasal adjectives. If a two-word phrase doesn’t appear in the dictionary as a standing open compound, it is not exempt from hyphenation. [dbb – I wonder if he could be more vague…I think what he’s saying is that if you look for a two-word phrase (without hyphens) in the dictionary and you
do not find the phrase, then you probably need to hyphenate it.]

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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

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Posted by: episystechpubs | August 16, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Strap Counts and Star Notes

Yesterday, as I was editing a document, I came across the term “strap count.” Now, I know we work for credit unions and banks, but I’ve never worked in one. I’m not always up on the lingo of the institutions that we work with. I’m afraid my mind went straight to the only straps I know of—brassieres. Since I know we didn’t recently start working for the Credit Union of Victoria’s Secret, I quickly went to the internet to find out what exactly a “strap count” is. Not only did I find out what straps they were talking about, I found out some other cool information about “star notes.”

Here is what I learned from Wikipedia:

A currency strap, also known as currency band or bill strap is a simple paper device designed to hold a specific denomination and number of banknotes. It can also refer to the bundle itself.

In the United States, the American Bankers Association (ABA) has a standard for both value and color, as shown below. Note that all bills greater than $1 only come in straps of 100 count. The colors allow for quick accounting, even when the bills are stacked, such as in a vault.

Special striped bands are used for straps containing only star notes. [KC – Described below the strap color chart.]

And a star note, as described by Wikipedia:

A replacement banknote, commonly referred to as a star note, is a banknote that is printed to replace a faulty one and is used as a control mechanism for governments or monetary authorities to know the exact number of banknotes being printed.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | August 15, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Recuse vs. Excuse

I believe it was one of my relatives that asked me to go through the meanings of excuse and recuse, so I’m finally getting to it. The word recuse has been in the news quite a bit lately regarding some government events. This is a time for happiness, joy, and learning, though, so we won’t be making any trips to D.C. for examples.

Here is a brief article from The Grammarist, followed by some examples from me.

Recuse means to disqualify someone from a legal duty because that person is prejudiced or has a conflict of interest. Someone may be recused through his [KC – or her] own decision or someone else’s decision. Judges often recognize when they have a conflict of interest and recuse themselves. Recuse is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are recuses, recused, recusing, recusal. The word recuse is derived from the Latin word recusare, which means to decline, reject, or make an objection to.

Excuse means to release someone from a requirement, to release someone from a duty. Excuse also means to forgive someone for a transgression or minimize the blame. Excuse is a transitive verb, related words are excuses, excused, excusing. Excuse is also used as a noun. The term is derived from the Latin word excusare which means to decline, refuse, or release from blame.

Examples:

§ Frodo recused himself from the trial because worked for Pillsbury, and he refused to believe the Doughboy could be guilty of bad taste.

§ The judge recused herself from the trial because she recognized the defendant as one of her former bowling buddies.

§ Nieves excused Fernando for being an hour late for their date because when he arrived, Fernando handed her a new puppy, named Chico.

§ “Anybody who is attending the meet tomorrow,” said the coach, “is excused from swim class this afternoon.”

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | August 14, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Jury-rigged and Jerry-built

Are you confused about the differences between jury-rigged and jerry-built? I found an article from Grammar Girl that explains the difference between the two terms.

Jury-rigged means something “built in a makeshift fashion” with available materials. This doesn’t necessary mean shoddy work, it just means that something was improvised or “creatively repaired under trying circumstances.” The word jury (third definition; Merriam-Webster lists the definition for the noun, verb, and adjective) as an adjective means “improvised for temporary use especially in an emergency.”

Jerry-built means something made cheaply and carelessly put together. The article also mentions that jerry was once a slang word for disreputable. See the Grammar Girl article for more information about the word jerry. I looked up jerry in Merriam-Webster and found that jerry as an adjective means “poor, slipshod, makeshift.”

Also, some folks say jerry-rigged. Merriam-Webster defines jerry-rigged as “organized or constructed in a crude or improvised manner,” and suggests that the term is a combination of jury-rigged and jerry-built.

Jackie Solano | Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | August 11, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Fables

Good morning, kids! Today I’m taking a mini-vacation with the Editor’s Corner and letting Richard Lederer entertain us with his article “Fabulous fables live on in our everyday expressions.” It even comes with a little quiz towards the end that you can take. (Answers at the bottom of the email.) Enjoy!

One afternoon a fox was wending his way through the forest when he spotted a bunch of grapes hanging from a lofty branch. “Just the thing to quench my thirst,” said he. Taking a few steps back, the fox leapt up and just missed the hanging grapes. After springing and missing three times, the fox turned up his nose and said, “They’re probably sour anyway” and loped away.

And that is why, even today, when people disparage something that is beyond their reach, we say that their attitude is one of “sour grapes.”

A fox, a jackal and a wolf went hunting with a lion and they took down a deer. When it came time to share in their catch, the lion proclaimed, “The first share is mine for my part in the chase. The second share is mine because I am King of the Beasts. The third share is mine because I am stronger than you. And, as for the fourth quarter, I should like to see which of you will lay a paw upon it.” And thus the lion alone devoured the deer.

That story sparks forth the origin of the expression “the lion’s share,” which has changed meaning since its first telling. In the original tale “the lion’s share” meant the whole shebang, ball of wax, enchilada, nine yards and shootin’ match. To us today the phrase means “the largest portion.”

One of the richest veins from which nuggets of folk wisdom are mined is the fable, a made-up story that often involves talking animals. In olden days such “cock-and-bull stories” were “fablelike.” As a result, anything wonderful or astonishing is nowadays described as fabulous.

The stories of “The Fox and the Grapes” and “The Lion’s Share” are associated with everybody’s favorite fabulist, Aesop. We don’t know much about Aesop, but he is said to have lived 620-564 B.C. in Greece, where he was a black slave to a Thracian. According to legend, Aesop was deformed and ugly and used fables to entertain and edify others, ultimately winning his freedom.

Fables have made fabulous contributions to our everyday expressions. Here are compacted versions of four more Aesop’s fables, each of which has bequeathed us a popular piece of folk wisdom. Identify each moral:

  1. A wolf clothed himself in a sheep’s skin in order to get among a flock of sheep so that even the shepherd was deceived by the disguise. When night fell, the shepherd, wanting meat for his supper, mistook the wolf for one of his flock and killed it.
  2. A hare mocked a tortoise for the slowness of her pace. “Let’s race each other,” jeered the hare. “You shall soon see what my feet are made of.”
    The hare and the tortoise agreed to start at once. The tortoise set off on her course, plugging along, without a moment’s stopping, at her usual steady pace. The hare, treating the whole matter lightly, first took a little nap, planning to swiftly overtake the tortoise. But the tortoise plodded on, and when the hare, having overslept, arrived at the goal, he saw that the tortoise had beaten him to the finish line.
  3. A certain man had the good fortune to possess a goose that laid him a golden egg every day. But dissatisfied with the slow pace of his income and thinking to seize the whole treasure at once, he killed the goose. Alas though, when the man cut open the bird, he found no golden eggs inside her.
  4. A shepherd boy tended his flock not far from a village. To amuse himself at times, the boy would cry out, “Wolf! Wolf!” Three times his ruse succeeded, and the whole village came running to assist the boy, who laughed at them for their pains.
    One day the wolf actually showed up. “Wolf! Wolf!” the boy shrieked in earnest. Supposing him to be up to his old tricks, his neighbors paid no heed to his cries for help, and the wolf devoured his flock. So the boy learned too late that liars are not believed even when they tell the truth.

*****

Answers

1. Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
2. Slow and steady wins the race.
3. Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
4. Don’t be the boy who cried wolf.

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Posted by: episystechpubs | August 10, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Vocabulary Quiz!

Forgiving readers,

In today’s quiz, there was an error in the lettering of the correct answers. (Notice the passive voice: “there was an error”—someone is reluctant to take blame. It was me!)

Although in the quiz answers, I provided all the correct words, I attributed one wrong letter. Here are the correct answers with the correct corresponding letters:

1. a) imminent

2. a) cited

3. b) capital

4. a) complaisant

5. a) loath

That’s my one permissible mistake for the day. I really have to be on my toes for the next seven hours!

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

From: Donna Bradley Burcher
Sent: Thursday, August 10, 2017 6:30 AM
To: Donna Bradley Burcher <DBurcher@jackhenry.com>
Subject: Editor’s Corner: Vocabulary Quiz!

I received so many positive responses after the last vocabulary quiz, I decided to give you another. I found this quiz on DailyWritingTips.com. We’re dealing with commonly confused words here, so finish your coffee, fire up your brain cells, and put on your thinking cap.

Like before, there’s no prize for getting them all right. We’re working on a tight budget. I’ve added space between the quiz and the answers. If more than one answer seems correct, pick the most likely answer. No peeking, until after you’ve answered them all.

Ready, set, go!

1. They didn’t realize that they were in __________ danger

a. imminent

b. eminent

2. He __________ an example to illustrate his point.

a. cited

b. sited

3. Albany is the __________ of New York.

a. capitol

b. capital

4. Her __________ manner was appealing at first, but her eagerness to help soon became annoying.

a. complaisant

b. complacent

5. I am __________ to delegate that responsibility to him.

a. loath

b. loathe

Answers and Explanations

1. They didn’t realize that they were in imminent danger.

a. imminent

Eminent means “well known and respected”; imminent means “happening very soon.”

2. He cited an example to illustrate his point.

a. cited

To site is to locate or situate; to cite is to give an example or source.

3. Albany is the capital of New York.

a. capital

A capitol is a building or building complex in which legislators meet (the term is often capitalized to specify a particular building); a capital is a seat of government.

4. Her complaisant manner was appealing at first, but her eagerness to help soon became annoying.

a. complaisant

Complaisant means “willing to please”; complacent means “self-satisfied, smug.”

5. I am loath to delegate that responsibility to him.

a. loath

To loathe is to hate; loath means “reluctant” or “unwilling.”

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
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Posted by: episystechpubs | August 10, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Vocabulary Quiz!

I received so many positive responses after the last vocabulary quiz, I decided to give you another. I found this quiz on DailyWritingTips.com. We’re dealing with commonly confused words here, so finish your coffee, fire up your brain cells, and put on your thinking cap.

Like before, there’s no prize for getting them all right. We’re working on a tight budget. I’ve added space between the quiz and the answers. If more than one answer seems correct, pick the most likely answer. No peeking, until after you’ve answered them all.

Ready, set, go!

1. They didn’t realize that they were in __________ danger

a. imminent

b. eminent

2. He __________ an example to illustrate his point.

a. cited

b. sited

3. Albany is the __________ of New York.

a. capitol

b. capital

4. Her __________ manner was appealing at first, but her eagerness to help soon became annoying.

a. complaisant

b. complacent

5. I am __________ to delegate that responsibility to him.

a. loath

b. loathe

Answers and Explanations

1. They didn’t realize that they were in imminent danger.

a. imminent

Eminent means “well known and respected”; imminent means “happening very soon.”

2. He cited an example to illustrate his point.

a. cited

To site is to locate or situate; to cite is to give an example or source.

3. Albany is the capital of New York.

a. capital

A capitol is a building or building complex in which legislators meet (the term is often capitalized to specify a particular building); a capital is a seat of government.

4. Her complaisant manner was appealing at first, but her eagerness to help soon became annoying.

a. complaisant

Complaisant means “willing to please”; complacent means “self-satisfied, smug.”

5. I am loath to delegate that responsibility to him.

a. loath

To loathe is to hate; loath means “reluctant” or “unwilling.”

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
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 | August 9, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Gamut, Gambit, and Gambino

Today’s item is about two words that are spelled similarly and are often confused: gamut and gambit. From the Grammarist:

Gamut refers to the full scope of something, the entire range of something. Gamut also has a musical definition. In medieval musical terms, gamut is the range of notes on the scale that covers the nearly three octaves starting from bass G through treble E. The word gamut is derived from the Greek letter gamma and the Latin word ut signifying the bass G note.

KC – The play took me through a gamut of emotions—joyful, depressed, angry, afraid, and fulfilled.

A gambit is a risky opening action or comment that is designed to put one at an advantage. The word gambit is derived from the Italian word gambetto which means tripping up. [KC – Gambetto, not Gambino! See below.] Originally, the word gambit was first used to describe an opening move in the game of chess where a pawn is sacrificed in order to gain a more advantageous position on the chessboard. By 1855, the word gambit moved into mainstream English to mean any risky, opening action or comment.

KC – Juniper’s opening gambit in the union negotiations was to ask for better health care coverage; she wanted to start with the most important item first.

Carlo “Don Carlo” Gambino

Childish Gambino (Donald Glover)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | August 8, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Floats!

Dear Editrix,

I wonder where floats got their name. Not the ice cream kind, but the parade kind. Do you happen to know?

Whatever Floats Your Boat

Dear Boat-Floater,

My guess was that parade floats are called “floats” because they are supposed to look like they are floating above the ground, sort of like they’re all hovercrafts. Apparently, though, I am wrong, as you will see in the article below. I’ve also included a few interesting tidbits about the history of floats themselves, along with some cute dog pictures, which are always welcome in Editor’s Corner. Enjoy!

From Wikipedia:

A float is a decorated platform, either built on a vehicle like a truck or towed behind one, which is a component of many festive parades, such as those of Mardi Gras in New Orleans…the United States Presidential Inaugural Parade, and the Tournament of Roses Parade. For the latter event, floats are decorated entirely in flowers or other plant material.

Parade floats were first introduced in the Middle Ages when churches used pageant wagons as movable scenery for passion plays. Artisan guilds were responsible for building the pageant wagons for their specified craft. The wagons were pulled throughout the town, most notably during Corpus Christi in which up to 48 wagons were used, one for each play in the Corpus Christi cycle.

They are so named because the first floats were decorated barges on the River Thames for the Lord Mayor’s Show.

The largest float ever exhibited in a parade was a 116-foot-long (35 m) entry in the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade that featured Tillman the skateboarding bulldog (and some of his friends) surfing in an 80-foot-long (24 m) ocean of water. The water tank held over 6,600 US gallons on a float weighing more than 100,000 pounds. It broke the previous record for the longest single-chassis parade float, which was set in 2010 by the same sponsor.

Tillman, the Skateboarding Bulldog

Surfing Bulldog (Tillman?) on Rose Bowl Parade Float

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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