Posted by: episystechpubs | March 4, 2021

Editor’s Corner: No Worse for Wear

Today I was talking to someone who had just come back from vacation and I said her writing was “no worse for wear,” indicating that just because she took some time off, her writing was still fabulously error-free. Where I got a bit stuck was trying to remember if it was “worse for wear” or “worse for ware.” I decided that “wear” was correct, but then I thought, “What an odd phrase.“ Wear makes a little bit of sense, but not much. It seemed to me like a good time to look into this particular idiom.

From our idiom experts at The Grammarist:

The phrase the worse for wear describes someone or something that has been used and shows signs of that use. Something that is the worse for wear is in bad condition, shabby, worn out. A person who is described as being the worse for wear may look exhausted, ill, dirty or disheveled. The worse for wear may also be used as a euphemism for someone who is drunk or hungover from drinking, especially in British English. To express that someone has endured something and come through it with no ill effect, the expression none the worse for wear is used. The expression the worse for wear dates back at least to 1546.

Actually, now that I read that, I think I said, “No worse for the wear.” I guess I’m not even using the idiom correctly. Maybe that’s a sign that I should just say, “I hope you had a nice vacation. Being away certainly didn’t have a negative effect on your writing.”

And something completely unrelated, but it made me laugh:

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: episystechpubs | March 2, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Southern Phrases

Recently, our coworker Sandra B. posted “Phrases Black Southerners Say” on the Mosaic Teams site. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and thought I’d look for some other Southern phrases I could share. It’s been four years since I shared lively Southern phrases with you, and it seems like a good time to look at more. I had to rely on Wander Wisdom for new material since I don’t have a Southern connection. I have cut out the items I did last time, and also the ones that are a bit “blue” for the office.

Enjoy!

When a Southerner Gets Angry:

  • He’s got a burr in his saddle.
  • His knickers are in a knot.
  • She’s pitching a hissy fit.
  • She’s pitching a hissy fit with a tail on it.

Southern Sayings About Bad Character:

  • You’re lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.
  • She’s meaner than a wet panther.
  • Worthless as gum on a boot heel!

When Southerners Are Busy:

  • I’m as busy as a one-legged cat in a sandbox.
  • Busier than a moth in a mitten!

Southern Expressions About Being Cheap:

  • He squeezes a quarter so tight the eagle screams.

Southern Phrases About Being Broke or Poor:

  • I’m so poor I can’t afford to pay attention.
  • He was so poor, he had a tumbleweed as a pet.
  • I couldn’t buy a hummingbird on a string for a nickel.

Irritation Brings Out Some Creative Southern Expressions:

  • That would make a bishop mad enough to kick in stained glass windows.
  • She could make a preacher cuss!
  • Who licked the red off your candy?
  • She could start an argument in an empty house.
  • He’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine/a trapdoor on a canoe.

Colorful Southern Expressions About Liars:

  • You’re lyin’ like a no-legged dog!
  • If his lips’s movin’, he’s lyin’.

Southernisms About Stupidity:

  • If brains were leather, he wouldn’t have enough to saddle a junebug.
  • He’s so dumb, he could throw himself on the ground and miss.
  • When the Lord was handin’ out brains, that fool thought God said trains, and he passed ’cause he don’t like to travel.
  • His brain rattles around like a BB in a boxcar.
  • If his brains were dynamite, he couldn’t blow his nose.

When Something Smells Really Bad, a Southerner Says:

  • He smelled bad enough to gag a maggot.
  • Something smells bad enough to knock a dog off a gut wagon.

If You Hear These Southern Expressions, You Better Watch Out:

Either somebody’s in real trouble, or there’s a fight brewing if you hear…

  • I’m gonna jerk her bald!
  • Me-‘n-you are gonna mix.
  • You better give your heart to Jesus, ’cause your butt is mine.
  • I’ll slap you to sleep, then slap you for sleeping.

Ugly or Looking Bad?

  • He’s so ugly, he didn’t get hit with the ugly stick, he got whopped with the whole forest!
  • So ugly she’d make a freight train take a dirt road.
  • She’s so ugly I’d hire her to haunt a house!
  • He looks like ten miles of bad road.

Of the Wealthy:

  • He’s so rich he buys a new boat when he gets the other one wet.

A Hungry Southerner Says:

  • I could eat the north end of a south-bound polecat.
  • I’m so hungry I could eat the north end of a south-bound goat.

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 25, 2021

Editor’s Corner: But It Sounds Right

Good morning, my friends!

I occasionally write about misused words. And today, I’m going to do it again—only with a twist. The misused words I’m sharing today are from GrammarBook.com, and they are misused because they sound like they should mean something different from what they actually mean. Without really thinking about it, when we hear a word, we relate it to words that seem to have the same root or to words that sound similar. It’s an intuitive response that can save us time, but in these instances, it leads us to an incorrect conclusion.

Maybe these are not words you hear often these days, but it’s interesting to know that when people do use them, they often use them incorrectly because they sound similar to more common words.

I want to add a disclaimer here: some of the words are misused so often that some dictionaries have included the incorrect definition (Hiss! Boo!). Dictionaries will usually list the most accepted definition first, and they’ll list the least accepted definition last or near the end of the list of definitions.

Here’s the list, don’t choke on your coffee or tea when you learn how wrong we’ve been!

Word enervate
Mistaken Meaning to energize
Correct Meaning to weaken or sap
Correct Example Standing in the ticket line for six hours enervated us.
Word enormity
Mistaken Meaning enormousness, great size
Correct Meaning something outrageous or heinous
Correct Example The enormity of the bank scandal was even worse than they thought.
Word fulsome
Mistaken Meaning full, abundant, copious
Correct Meaning offensive to good taste, improperly or insincerely excessive
Correct Example She didn’t believe his fulsome apology for staying away all weekend.
Word noisome
Mistaken Meaning noisy
Correct Meaning noxious, offensive, disgusting (especially an odor)
Correct Example The smell from the trashcan was noisome.
Word proscribe
Mistaken Meaning to prescribe, recommend, direct
Correct Meaning to condemn, forbid
Correct Example The village proscribes alcohol sales on Sundays.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

Pronouns she/her/hers

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 | February 23, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Accept and Except

Dear Editrix,

Would you mind doing accept and except sometime?

Question from the Carolinas

Why, of course, I would love to cover accept and except! Let’s get to it right away.

Accept and except are frequently confused because they are homophones (words that sound alike). Homophones tend to be confusing to both native English speakers and people with English as a second language. First, we’ll look at accept because that is the easy one.

Accept is a verb that means to agree, to believe, or to receive something. Here are a few examples:

  • Rico accepted the terms of the contract, even though he thought he could get a better deal elsewhere. (In this case, accept means “agree to.”)
  • When Kelsie was young, she accepted her brother’s story there were fairies in the family strawberry patch. (In this case, accept means “to believe.”)
  • As a graduation gift, Lemuel accepted a golden watch from his grandfather. (In this case, accept means “to receive.”)

Except is a bit trickier because it can be used as a verb, a conjunction, or a preposition. On the plus side, except only has one meaning: to exclude something.

  • Zeb and Petronia have a secret hiding place; they haven’t told anyone about it except Zeb’s mother. (Preposition)
  • Paul knows nothing about his new OKCupid date except that he is tall, dark, and handsome. (Conjunction, usually use with that, when, or if.)
  • My dog Bella is very even-tempered, except when Harvey tries to steal her treats. (Conjunction, usually use with that, when, or if.)
  • The lawyer excepted against potential witnesses 14, 18, and 21. (Verb, rarer use than as a preposition or conjunction.)

Grammarly.com suggests that you can simplify the two words by remembering this:

  • Accept means to agree or to receive something offered.
  • Except means excluding or with the exception of.

I hope this helps!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 18, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Bankruptcy

The other day I was editing a document about bankruptcy and I thought, “Boy, does bankrupt sound like erupt.” I started wondering if the destruction caused by bankruptcy and the potential mayhem from an erupting volcano had a common history. I turned to my beloved—not my husband, Ray—my beloved Online Etymology Dictionary. This is what I found for bankrupt, rupture, erupt, and bankruptcy (edited for brevity).

bankrupt (adjective)

"in the state of one unable to pay just debts or meet obligations," 1560s, from Italian banca rotta, literally "a broken bench," from banca "moneylender’s shop," literally "bench" + rotta "broken, defeated, interrupted" from Latin rupta, fem. past participle of rumpere "to break" (see rupture).

Said to have been so called from an old custom of breaking the bench of bankrupts, but the allusion probably is figurative.

rupture (noun)

late 14c., originally medical, from Latin ruptura "the breaking (of an arm or leg), fracture," from past participle stem of rumpere "to break". Specifically as "abdominal hernia" from early 15c.

erupt (verb)

1650s, of diseases, etc., from Latin eruptus, past participle of erumpere "to break out, burst," from assimilated form of ex "out" + rumpere "to break, rupture" (see rupture). Of volcanoes, from 1770 (the Latin word was used in reference to Mount Etna). Related: Erupted; erupting.

bankruptcy (noun)
1700, "the breaking up of a business due to its inability to pay obligations," from bankrupt, "probably on the analogy of insolvency, but with -t erroneously retained in spelling, instead of being merged in the suffix …." [OED]. Figurative use from 1761. Earlier words for it (late 16c.-17c.) were bankrupting, bankruption, bankrupture, bankruptship.

Now that’s a lot rupture, eruptus, and rupta, but we can definitely see that all four words are commonly related by rumpere (to break). Now what I’d like to know is, “Why did we stop using bankruption?” That seems like a much more active word! And how about a breakout of acne? Doesn’t telling your doctor your face erumpered sound a little suaver? In any case, it’s some knowledge you can break out during the next client conference or at the bar during Trivia Night. 😊

Have a bankruptureless day!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Editing: Symitar Documentation Services

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

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Posted by: episystechpubs | February 16, 2021

Editor’s Corner: It’s Me, Not I

Fair warning—I’m going to harp today. But it’ll be short and sweet (well, maybe it won’t be sweet; it’ll be short and tart…mmm, SweeTARTS®). I’ve talked about this pronoun conundrum before, but I hear so many people who should know better get it wrong that I feel like I have to try to find another way to get the point across.

What point? Using the subjective pronoun I when we should use the objective pronoun me.

Here are some examples of the kind of things I hear that are making me so tart:

  • You can count on Jim and I.
  • Finding a solution will come down to Karen or I.
  • Sometimes, my family treats my sister and I differently.

In all those cases, the correct pronoun is me. How can you know for sure? The easiest way to determine whether you should use I or me is to remove the other person from the sentence:

  • You can count on me.
  • Finding a solution will come down to me.
  • Sometimes, my family treats me differently.

Some people incorrectly assume that if two people are being discussed, they should always use the pronoun I. But we’re not “assumers.” To assume is to suppose without proof. We know where to find proof. As my sister would say, “Google™ that!”

Now, you and I can tackle the world! Enjoy the day.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

Pronouns she/her/hers

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 | February 11, 2021

Editor’s Corner: American Dialects

Top of the morning to you!

I recently read a very interesting article from one of my favorite resources, GrammarBook.com, on one of my favorite topics—dialects. This article is specifically about American dialects. As you know, although most Americans share the common language of English, we don’t all speak it exactly the same way. There are differences in the grammar we use, in our accents, in our word choice, and in our common expressions—and all this makes up our regional dialect.

The article I read stated that there are fourteen different regional dialects in the United States, but for the sake of brevity, they narrowed them down to the three major dialects that I’m sure you’re all familiar with: Southern, Northern, and Western. Here is some of the information they provided. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do. (I’ve cut it down for your convenience.)

Southern

American Southern English is perhaps most recognized for its distinctive drawl with longer vowel pronunciations. Another regional distinction can be the dropping of the final r of a word before another word that begins with a vowel (e.g., greater idea is pronounced great-uh idea).

Southern English might also be identified by colloquialisms such as using done as an auxiliary verb (I done already reminded you about the yard work) and using been instead of have been in present perfect constructions (I been building this cabinet for about two weeks).

Northern

American Northern English includes dialects from New England (e.g., Boston, Rhode Island), New York and the Mid-Atlantic (e.g., Baltimore, Philadelphia), Inland Northern (e.g., Chicago, Detroit), and the U.S. Midland (Ohio, Nebraska, Missouri).

In Boston…you may hear the dropping of the r from words such as car (caa)…You might also hear the word wicked in place of very and references to a tonic (TAWN-ic) for a soft drink.

In certain boroughs of New York (New Yawk), you might hear WAW-duh for water…

In Philadelphia and surrounding areas, one may hear h-dropping as in YOO-men for human. The word water might also be pronounced as WOO-ter. Some Philadelphians are known to refer to the chocolate sprinkles on ice cream as jimmies as well.

Many Americans can identify Chicagoans by how they refer to their hometown: shi-CAW-go. Other Chicago-isms include I got dibs for I have first access, da for the, and pop for soda…

Western

Perhaps because it was settled last by European immigrants on different settlement routes, the American West is less distinct in its dialect than the South and the North.

With close to 40 million people (12 percent of the U.S. population), California has developed its own forms of English, but an identifying regional tongue is yet to be defined. Its most discernible pattern of speech may be the Valley Girl vernacular popularized in the 1980s. The lingo included using like as filler between words and expressions such as gnarly, awesome, totally, and gag me with a spoon. [dbb – Last time, I briefly discussed the
Valley Girl dialect
, remember? It was, like, totally awesome!]

Other subdialects include New Mexican, Utahan, and Wyomese English.

I love trying to figure out where people are from by their accent and speech patterns. I was raised in California by two Southern parents. I’ve learned to love the slow Southern drawl and the sometimes silly but very apt southern sayings I often hear from my dad. Here are some of his top hits (the ones that are suitable for work):

Dad’s saying What he means
· I’m finer than a frog hair split four ways and tied up in bow knots. · I’m doing very well!
· He’s only got one oar in the water. · He’s not very bright.
· No thanks, I had a bar of soap earlier. · I’m not hungry right now.
· He fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. · He’s very ugly. (He said this about every one of my boyfriends.)
· You look like you’ve been rode hard and put up wet. · You look exhausted.
· I’m as full as a tic. · I couldn’t eat another bite.

And I’m married to a Londoner with just as many quirky sayings—even fewer that are fit to print, but I’ve shined them up a bit to save my job and your innocence. Here are a few of Mick’s most often used work-friendly sayings:

Mick’s saying What he means
· I’m well chuffed. · I’ve very happy (or pleased).
· I’m knackered. · I’m tired.
· Well, take me to the foot of our stairs. · I’m surprised.
· Bob’s your uncle. · It’s as simple as that.
· She’s lost the plot. · She’s gone crazy.
· He’s absolutely gormless. · He doesn’t have a clue.
· He’s daft as a brush. · He’s crazy (or stupid).
· That’s mank. · That’s disgusting.

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Posted by: episystechpubs | February 9, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Kangaroo Words

Today my dear coworker, Jane, sent me a graphic from Facebook®, and asked me if this were true:

I hadn’t heard this term before, but I think it’s great. A kangaroo word hides a smaller baby word (a joey) in her pouch! To verify that this wasn’t just a cool poster, I found a website called Hit Bullseye, which published a huge list of kangaroo words. If you just want a selection of kangaroo words, that list is below. For many more, click here. (Note: The webpage comes with a couple of pop-ups, but the list of kangaroo words is good.)

Kangaroo word Joey word
alone one
appropriate apt
astound stun
blossom bloom
community county, city
container can, tin
contaminate taint
deceased dead
deception con
deliberate debate
encourage urge
exists is
falsities lies
history story
isolated sole
indolent idle
joviality joy
myself me
nourished nursed
observe see
ornamented ornate
plagiarist liar
precipitation rain
quiescent quiet
rapscallion rascal
separate part
substandard bad
supremacist racist

Like the kangaroo word container, this ‘roo has two joeys! How can she walk, let alone hop?

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 4, 2021

Editor’s Corner: On Accident or By Accident?

Dear Editrix,

I was listening to my nine-year-old daughter talking to one of her friends over the iPad and she used the phrase “she dropped her books on accident.” Then I heard her use “on accident” in another sentence and it made me question if it was now ok to say on accident or if by accident was the proper grammar.

Thanks,

Wondering Mama

Hello there!

What an interesting observation! Whether it is by accident or on accident (or both) isn’t something I’ve thought about before. I was trying to think of an example, such as “I bought this book by accident.” Would I say on or by? I decided I’d say by accident or accidentally. But I’ve definitely heard the alternative on accident, so I did some digging.

The first article I read on Grammar.com said that by accident is correct and that people might say on accident, but they certainly wouldn’t write it because it isn’t proper.

I thought I should look further, and I found more information from our buddy Grammar Girl. I’ve copied a few interesting paragraphs from her research that I hope answer the question for you.

…use of the two different versions appears to be distributed by age. Whereas on accident is common in people under 40 or so, almost everyone who is older than that today says by accident. It’s really amazing: the study is 10 years old now, but if you assume usage hasn’t changed in the last 10 years, the results mean people born after 1995 are more likely to use on, people born between 1970 and 1995 say by accident more often than on accident, but still use on accident a lot too, and then people born before 1970 overwhelmingly prefer by accident. It looks like a directly age-related change in the way people are saying this phrase.

…although usage guides state that on accident is an error, and Shelly from Texas asked me to do what I can to ban on accident, Barratt found that there is no widespread stigma associated with saying on accident. In addition, it seems to me that as those kids who say on accident grow up (some of whom are even unaware that by accident is an option, let alone the preferred phrase of grown-ups) on accident will become the main, accepted phrase. By that time, there won’t be enough of us left who say by accident to correct them!

It looks like your daughter is safe from a lecture and she’s just “acting her age.” Or maybe you could go a little further and call her a trend-setter?

And from Dan Green, a quote from the internet that I just loved:

“If you try to correct my grammar, I will think fewer of you.”

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 2, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Burrowing and borrowing

Good day, everyone!

I don’t have much of a plan for today, so I thought I’d share part of an article from The Grammarist. The Grammarist sends out emails on English words and phrases, often comparing two words that people who speak English as a second language get confused. For example, today’s words are burrow and borrow. Since that combination made me laugh, and it is Groundhog Day, I thought I’d share this with you.

Burrow and borrow are words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. Confusables is a catch-all term for words that are often misused or confused; there are many confusing words in the English language that may be easily confused for each other in spoken English and written English.

A burrow is a tunnel or a hole that has been dug by an animal. Burrow is also used as a verb to mean tunneling or digging a hole. Related words are burrows, burrowed, burrowing. The word burrow is derived from the Old English word, burgh, which means a fortress.

Borrow means to use something that belongs to someone else with the intention of returning it. To properly borrow something, one should have the permission of the owner to use it and then return it. One may borrow money from a bank, in which case, one pays for the privilege. One may borrow a cup of sugar from a neighbor, in which case, you should repay the favor in kind. Borrow is a verb; related words are borrows, borrowed, borrowing. The word borrow is derived from the Old English word, borgian, which means to lend.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

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