Posted by: episystechpubs | February 24, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Lively Southern Expressions

Today I have a great expression from one of you that is something you might say when you’re extremely happy: “Grinning like a possum eating a sweet potato.” I’ve seen many a possum in my time, but they always look more scary than smiley. I have never, however, seen a possum eating a sweet potato. While I was researching this idiom, I found a list of nine other “lively Southern expressions” from the Huffington Post that I thought you might enjoy. I have to admit that several of you mentioned the grasshopper, molasses, and the cat on the hot tin roof in your submissions, too!

“All hat no cattle”
Imagine the would-be ranching magnate, flush with cash earned elsewhere, who blows into town with a ten-gallon lid, a fresh pair of boots — and a much too loud mouth.

“Fine as frog’s hair split four ways”
What’s that? You’ve never seen hair on a frog? Exactly. Split it four ways and it becomes awfully fine indeed.

“Drunker than Cooter Brown”
As legend has it, Cooter Brown was a man who did not see fit to take up with either side during the Civil War, and so remained so staggeringly drunk throughout the entire conflict that he avoided conscription.

“Grinning like a possum eating a sweet potato”
For a scavenger accustomed to a diet of bugs, slugs, and roadkill, having a fat, juicy sweet potato to gorge on is like winning the lottery.

“Happy as a dead pig in the sunshine”
Deceptively complex, this one contains a built-in lesson in postmortem porcine physiology. As a dead pig’s body lies out in the sunshine, see, its lips begin to pull back from its teeth, creating the illusion of a wide grin. The expression describes a similarly oblivious (though quite alive) person who smiles away when in reality things aren’t going so hot.

“Knee-high to a grasshopper”
Most often used to denote growth, as in: “I haven’t seen you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper!”

“Slower than molasses running uphill in the winter”
Things don’t get much slower than molasses. Uphill in winter? You get the picture.

“Ran like a scalded haint”
The opposite meaning of the previous phrase. A haint, in old Southern terminology, is a ghost, and according to tradition, scalding one will send it running right quick.

“Like a cat on a hot tin roof”
Cats are jumpy enough in a comfortable living room. The expression describes someone in an extreme state of upset and anxiety, and, of course, it was used by Tennessee Williams as the title of his Pulitzer-winning 1955 play.

“Enough money to burn a wet mule”
Why a person might choose to burn a soaking wet thousand-pound mule is anybody’s guess, but the expression was made famous (in some circles) when legendary Louisiana governor Huey Long used it in reference to deep-pocketed nemesis Standard Oil.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | February 23, 2017

Editor’s Corner: How to Describe Keys, Part 2

Special Character Keys

Excluding the number keys, there are 11 special character keys on a standard keyboard:

· the Grave Accent key (`)

· the Hyphen key () or the Minus Sign key ()

· the Equals Sign key (=)

· the Open Bracket key ([)

<![if !supportLists]>· the Close Bracket key (])

· the Backslash key ()

· the Semicolon key (;)

· the Quotation Mark key ()

· the Comma key (,)

· the Period key (.)

· the Forward Slash key (/)

The IBM Style Guide gives us the following rule for writing about special character keys:

“If a key has a symbol printed on it, at first reference, use the descriptive name of the key followed by the symbol in parentheses. For later references, you can use only the symbol if no ambiguity or confusion would result.”

Example: To move to the next page, press the Backslash key (). Press again.

However, the Microsoft® Manual of Style lists five special character names that should always be spelled out:

“Because special characters could be confused with an action (such as +) or be difficult to see, always spell out the following special character names: Plus Sign, Minus Sign, Hyphen, Period, and Comma.”

Next Time

When I started writing about keyboards, I thought that two posts would be enough to describe all 104 keys. Boy, was I wrong!

In my next post, I’ll explain how to combine modifier keys with special character keys. Then I’ll finish with a discussion of function keys, cursor keys, and command keys. Stay tuned.

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 | February 22, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie

The other day as I was reading my car’s vehicle identification number to the insurance company over my cell phone, I came to some letters that I wanted to make clear over the static. I was okay with some of the letters, like “M as in Mike,” or “Z as in Zulu,” but when I got to U I said, “U as in, well, underwear.” He read it back to me and said, “U as in Uniform.” We both started cracking up when I said, “I guess U includes a little bit more than just the underwear.”

That got me wondering about the military alphabet. Actually, here is a better description from Military.com:

“Currently, the U.S. military uses the same phonetic alphabet adopted by NATO. More accurately, the alphabet is known as the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet (IRSA).”

I thought this historical chart of the phonetics and Morse code was pretty cool, so I’ve included it for your enjoyment.

Over and out,

Kilo Alpha Romeo Alpha

Letter 1957-Present Morse Code 1913 1927 1938 World War II
A Alfa (or Alpha) . _ Able Affirmative Afirm Afirm (Able)
B Bravo _ . . . Boy Baker Baker Baker
C Charlie _ . _ . Cast Cast Cast Charlie
D Delta _ . . Dog Dog Dog Dog
E Echo . Easy Easy Easy Easy
F Foxtrot . . _ . Fox Fox Fox Fox
G Golf _ _ . George George George George
H Hotel . . . . Have Hypo Hypo How
I India . . Item Interrogatory Int Int (Item)
J Juliett . _ _ _ Jig Jig Jig Jig
K Kilo _ . _ King King King King
L Lima . _ . . Love Love Love Love
M Mike _ _ Mike Mike Mike Mike
N November _ . Nan Negative Negat Negat (Nan)
O Oscar _ _ _ Oboe Option Option Option (Oboe)
P Papa . _ _ . Pup Preparatory Prep Prep (Peter)
Q Quebec _ _ . _ Quack Quack Queen Queen
R Romeo . _ . Rush Roger Roger Roger
S Sierra . . . Sail Sail Sail Sugar
T Tango _ Tare Tare Tare Tare
U Uniform . . _ Unit Unit Unit Uncle
V Victor . . . _ Vice Vice Victor Victor
W Whiskey . _ _ Watch William William William
X X-ray _ . . _ X-ray X-ray X-ray X-ray
Y Yankee _ . _ _ Yoke Yoke Yoke Yoke
Z Zulu _ _ . . Zed Zed Zed Zebra

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | February 21, 2017

French to English, Part Deux

Voila! Here is the second part of the list I’m sharing with you from DailyWritingTips. As I mentioned Friday, here’s how the list goes: first, the French word, followed by the definition we created for it in English, and then in parentheses the French definition of the word.

16. entrée: an entrance, or the main course of a meal (an entrance, or appetizers preceding a meal or before the main course)
17. épée: a specific fencing sword (a sword)
18. exposé: published material pertaining to a fraud or scandal (a report or talk)
19. hors d’oeuvre: a snack (the first course of a meal)
20. outré: unusual (exaggerated or extravagant, or outraged)
21. précis: a summary (accurate, precise; also, an abridged textbook)
22. premiere: a first performance or presentation (first)
23. recherché: obscure, pretentious (sophisticated, studied)
24. rendezvous: a clandestine meeting, or a location for an appointed meeting or reunion or a joining of two spacecraft (an appointment, date, or meeting)
25. reprise: a repetition of a piece of music during a performance (an alternate version or cover version, or rebroadcast)
26. résumé: an employment history with a list of qualifications (a summary)
27. risqué: sexually provocative (risky)
28. seance: a gathering to communicate with spirits (a meeting or session)
29. touché: acknowledgment of a point made, or of a hit in fencing (emotionally touched)
30. vignette: a brief description or scene (a small picture)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | February 17, 2017

Editor’s Corner: French to English

A few weeks ago, I came home from Mexico and shared some Spanish words we adopted into English. Today, I have some French words that we’ve adopted into English (though these weren’t inspired by any traveling on my part). Today’s half of the list is brought to us by DailyWritingTips. First, you have the word, followed by our definition in English, and then in parentheses the French definitions of the words. Ooh la la!

1. accoutrement: accompanying items or accessories (a ludicrous costume or tasteless attire)

2. après-ski: socializing after skiing (snow boots)

3. auteur: a film director or other artist who artistically dominates a creative endeavor (an author)

4. au naturel: naked (acting or looking natural, unaltered or unadulterated)

5. bête noire: someone or something avoided or disliked out of fear (someone or something hated)

6. boutique: a shop selling designer or distinctive clothing, or, as an adjective, describing a small, exclusive business (a shop)

7. boutonnière: a flower placed in a buttonhole (a buttonhole)

8. chef: a professional cook (a boss)

9. claque: a group of admirers (a group of theatergoers paid either to applaud or to criticize a performance)

10. corsage: flowers worn on a woman’s dress or around her wrist (a woman’s chest, and attire covering this area)

11. coup: a forced change of government (a hit)

12. coup de main: surprise attack (give a hand)

13. debut: a first performance by an artist or entertainer (a beginning)

14. décolletage: a low neckline, cleavage (lowering a neckline, or, in agricultural and technical contexts, cutting)

15. en masse: a group or mass moving as one entity (a collection or crowd)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | February 16, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Words Added to Merriam-Webster, Part 1

Merriam-Webster recently added some words to the dictionary. In my next few posts, I’ll talk about some of these words.

boo-hoo: to weep loudly and with sobs

face-palm: to cover one’s face with the hand as an expression of embarrassment, dismay, or exasperation

side- eye: a sidelong glance or gaze especially when expressing scorn, suspicion, disapproval, or veiled curiosity

walk back: to retreat from or distance oneself from (a previously stated opinion or position)

weak sauce: something inferior, ineffective, or unimpressive

And the word shade now includes this definition:

throw shade (US slang): to express contempt or disrespect for someone publicly especially by subtle or indirect insults or criticisms

Jackie Solano | Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 15, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Sig-Alert

If you’ve ever spent time here in Southern California, you know that we refer to the freeways as “the 5” or “the 15,” as if they were royalty. I wrote about that last year in this article The I-5. We also tend to spend a lot of time on the road and in traffic, often listening to the radio to find out which paths to avoid.

Today I’d like to talk about something that is also related to traffic and SoCal: the Sig-Alert.

When you’re driving here, you might hear something like, “A Sig-Alert is reported on the I-8 toward Yuma, due to a brush fire.” So what does it mean? Does it mean a signal? Does it stand for “Stay In Garage”? According to the California Department of Transportation, this is the official history and meaning of the Sig-Alert:

“Sig-Alerts” are unique to Southern California. They came about in the 1940s when the L.A.P.D. got in the habit of alerting a local radio reporter, Loyd Sigmon, of bad car wrecks on city streets. These notifications became known as “Sig-Alerts.” Later Mr. Sigmon developed an electronic device that authorities could use to alert the media of disasters. Caltrans latched on to the term “Sig-Alert” and it has come to be known as any traffic incident that will tie up two or more lanes of a freeway for two or more hours.

So there you have it! Now you know that you definitely don’t want to drive towards any place that is announcing a Sig-Alert.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | February 14, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

I know, I know…I probably interrupted you as you were signing a card to your sweetheart. Not to worry, I’m here to help. According to the thesaurus, here are almost fifty words that mean something similar to love and adoration. Be careful that you understand the subtleties of these synonyms so that your fifty shade of fondness and fifty shades of gray go to the right addressees!

From Thesaurus.com:

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 13, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Words Coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Good morning! Last week, I shared words coined by novelist Charles Dickens. This week I want to share words coined by another English writer, poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (The Tale of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan are two of his most famous works). Along with Walt Whitman, Coleridge founded the Romantic Movement in England in the 19th century.

I compiled this list from a Daily Writing Tips article.

· Actualize: Refers to realizing a goal

· Bisexual: Originally used to refer to androgyny

· Impact: Refers to the act of collision in a figurative sense of “the effect of one thing on another”
[dbb – Notice that this word is meant to be used to refer to a collision. If you want to discuss “producing an effect upon” or “acting on and causing a change,” the preferred term is
affect, as in “The credit union will not be affected by this change.”]

· Intensify: To make more intense or intensive; Coleridge coined this term because “render intense” did not fit the meter of a poem he was writing

· Psychosomatic: Refers to imagined maladies
[dbb – Psst! Don’t tell my sister that her symptoms could be psychosomatic. Something about that word gives her superhuman anger and extreme potty mouth…I was just trying to be helpful.]

· Relativity: Refers to the concept of one thing having a relation to another

· Selfless: Unselfish

· Soulmate: Refers to someone with whom one has a profound emotional connection (originally hyphenated)

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 | February 10, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Email Subject Lines

Your subject line is the first impression you make on potential readers. A good subject line can get people to open something that they might normally skip. As a business, we would like our clients to read what we send them. In the case of SLAs and other alerts, it is sometimes crucial that they read our correspondence.

The question is, what do we do to get people to open their emails? After reading five or six articles on the subject, I’ve come up with the following do’s and don’ts. I’ve left out things like using comedy, sex, political controversy, and panicky calls to action. I’m pretty sure those would work, but we have a good reputation to consider!

DO

· Keep it short and concise. Use six to ten words, under 50 characters. Make sure that your message can be read on smart phones, laptops, tablets—whatever the reader might be using.

· Write several subject lines and use the best one.

· Focus on verbs, action-oriented words.

· Create a sense of urgency using words like “today” or “this Thursday”

· Use numbers. (For example, “Seven Reasons to Start Surfboarding.”)

· Use compelling questions, such as “Interested in Being a PowerOn Programmer?”

· Use alliteration. (For example, “Find Five Fantastic Features in Future Releases”)

· Use words that provoke enthusiasm, such as:

o Join us!

o Provide your opinion!

o Let us know what you think!

DON’T

· Use the word “newsletter,” which prevents almost 20 percent of the population from even considering opening the email.

· Stay away from all capital letters, which come across as yelling.

For more assistance with your subject lines, or just for the entertainment value, check out the Title Generator.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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