Posted by: episystechpubs | September 27, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Long Words

Good morning, everyone! One of you language lovers asked me to do a column on long words, and as you know, your wishes are my commands! I found an interesting article about this very topic, titled 14 of the Longest Words in English, by Shundalyn Allen. Rather than overwhelm you with all 14 at once, we’re going to cover this subject over the next two days. Enjoy!

Yes, this article is about some of the longest English words on record. No, you will not find the very longest word in English in this article. That one word would span about fifty-seven pages. It’s the chemical name for the titin protein found in humans. Its full name has 189,819 letters. Would you like to hear it pronounced? One man helpfully sounds it out in a YouTube video, but pop some popcorn before you get started! It will take you over three hours to watch—it’s just slightly shorter than the film Gone with the Wind. Dictionaries omit the name of this protein and many other long words. Obviously, dictionaries have space constraints, and the average person would have no need to know the technical names of chemicals. Still, there are plenty of lengthy words in dictionaries. Let’s take a moment to appreciate a few of them.

1. Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (forty-five letters) is lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica or quartz dust.

2. Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism (thirty letters) is a mild form of inherited pseudohypoparathyroidism that simulates the symptoms of the disorder but isn’t associated with abnormal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood.

3. Floccinaucinihilipilification (twenty-nine letters) is the estimation of something as valueless. Ironically, floccinaucinihilipilification is a pretty valueless word itself; it’s almost never used except as an example of a long word.

4. Antidisestablishmentarianism (twenty-eight letters) originally described opposition to the disestablishment of the Church of England, but now it may refer to any opposition to withdrawing government support of a particular church or religion.

5. What’s the longest word you know? If you watched Mary Poppins as a child, you might quickly think of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (thirty-four letters). Mary Poppins described it as the word to use “when you have nothing to say.” It appears in some (but not all) dictionaries.

6. Incomprehensibilities set the record in the 1990s as the longest word “in common usage.” How many times have you used this twenty-one-letter term?

“There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.”–Josh Billings

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | September 26, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Word Clipping

Good morning to you! Last week we talked about words created by back-formation (adding or removing a part of the word to create a verb from a noun, for example). Today, I want to discuss a related topic: clipping. I’ve written about this subject before, but today, I’m going to discuss two specific clipped words that turn perfectly happy verbs into unhappy nouns.

First, to remind you, word clipping occurs when you abbreviate a word: for example writing demo instead of demonstration. Yes, most people know what demo means, but in business writing, which is slightly formal, we avoid clipping words (we also avoid contractions). The kind of clipping I’ll discuss today clips a noun to make it shorter; the problem is that the clipped word already exists as a verb.

You want some examples? I’ve got your examples right here!

· I will send you an invite to my fabulous pool party.
(Invite has been clipped from the noun invitation.)

· We will compete the install by Tuesday afternoon.
(Install has been clipped from the noun installation.)

This kind of clipping is a bigger faux pas than regular clipping because clipping these words doesn’t only make them shorter—it changes the word’s “part of speech” (the categories we assign to words: like nouns, verbs, and adjectives). The words invite and install are verbs. They are things you do, which makes the usage in the bullets above grammatically incorrect. You cannot send an invite, you would send an invitation; and you cannot complete an install, you would complete an installation.

I know, I know, a lot of people use invite and install as nouns. I hear it all the time. A lot of people text when they drive and chew with their mouths open, too. (Wow, that sounded just like my mom!)

Oh, and one more thing while I’m on the naggin’ wagon, the word ask is a verb. So, although you might hear others say, “That’s a big ask,” if you want to be grammatically correct, you should say, “That’s a big question” or “That’s a lot to ask.”

Enjoy your week!

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 | September 23, 2016

Editor’s Corner: All for Me Grog

Monday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day. If you missed the boat on this year’s celebration, here’s a joke to lift your spirits.

Q: What is a pirate’s favorite drink?

A: Grog (assuming he’s looking for something stronger than an ARRRnold Palmer).

Grog makes many appearances in pirate fiction. In Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 adventure novel Treasure Island, Captain Billy Bones calls the inn where Jim Hawkins works "a pleasant sittyated grog-shop." Later, when Jim joins the Hispaniola’s crew, he remarks, "[T]here was never a ship’s company so spoiled since Noah put to sea. Double grog was going on the least excuse."

In the folk song "All for Me Grog" (first written down in 1929, but popular with sailors before then), the narrator laments his lost boots and shirt, which he sold "all for [his] jolly, jolly grog."

Few people drink grog these days, which raises the question: What is grog, anyway?

Like the Arnold Palmer (named for golfer Arnold Palmer), grog is an eponym: a thing named for a person. In this case, the person is 18th century British naval officer Admiral Edward "Old Grog" Vernon.

Vernon got the nickname "Old Grog" for the grogram coat he wore. In 1740, when Vernon ordered that his sailors’ daily allowance of rum be diluted with water, the resulting mixture was named for him. In 1795, the Royal Navy added lemon juice and sugar to the sailors’ rations. This improved the taste, and the vitamin C prevented scurvy.

Pirates went ashore more often than sailors, and scurvy was less of a risk. They tended to leave out the lemon juice and add nutmeg. They called their version bumbo. Merriam-Webster suggests that bumbo might come from Italian bombo, a child’s word for drink.

Grog has mostly been replaced by the daiquiri (basically the same drink), but Vernon’s memory lives on elsewhere. George Washington’s half-brother, Lawrence, served under Vernon in the War of Jenkins’ Ear and named his estate "Mount Vernon" in Old Grog’s honor.

Edward Vernon by Thomas Gainsborough

National Portrait Gallery, London

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

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | September 22, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Is it compliment or complement?

The words compliment and complement are homophones, which are words that sound alike but have different meanings. No wonder some people confuse them!

Here are the definitions of each word:

Compliment: a remark that says something good about someone or something

Complement: something that completes something else or makes it better

Here’s a tip from Grammar Girl to help you remember the difference:

Compliment (spelled with an i): Be a nice person and tell yourself, I like to give compliments.

Another trick that may help you to remember the difference is to visualize the spelling of the word complement, which looks like the word complete.

Jackie Solano | Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | September 21, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Off Belay

While at Symitar’s annual educational conference, I was chatting with some of my fellow door monitors and one of them used the term “belay.” The only time I’d ever heard that spoken aloud was when my parents were members of the Mountaineers, and I believe they were referring to a book called Off Belay. In honor of my coworkers, The Mountaineers, and my parents, here are a few vocabulary words from the mountain climbing world. (Actually, I selected these from REI’s Climbing Glossary, which is quite extensive.)

· Barn door—To swing sideways out from the rock due to being off balance. Often occurs with a lie-back maneuver.

· Bashies—Malleable anchors that are literally bashed into small cracks for use in aid climbing. Tough to remove.

· Belay—To keep a climber from falling too far by using friction on the rope. The system that stops a climber’s fall. It includes the rope, anchors, belay device and the belayer.

· Belayer—The person who manages the rope so as to catch the climber on the other end in case of a fall or a slip.

· Carabiner—Metal loop (usually aluminum) with a spring-loaded gate on one side used for connecting various parts of a climbing system. May be oval, pear- or D-shaped. Also karabiner, ‘biner, or krab.

· Chimney—Wide, vertical crack large enough for a climber to fit inside and climb. A move done inside the chimney by using opposing force with the feet and the body.

· Hang dog—To rest on the rope as you lead climb, putting weight on the protection rather than the rock.

· Pumped—To be weakened or in pain (usually in the forearms) from a strenuous move or climb.

· Screamer—A long fall on a rope, frequently with screaming. Also the model name of an energy-absorbing runner made by Yates.

· Sewing-machine leg—Uncontrollable shaking of the lower leg(s) caused by fatigue and/or fear while climbing. Resembles the up-and-down movement of sewing-machine parts.

· Whipper—A long fall.

And from About.com: “Off belay” is a climbing command that means “I am safe and you can take me off belay.” The command is said by the climber to his belayer after he is in a safe place, anchored to belay anchors, and no longer needs to be belayed from below.

Carabiner (Known by non-climbers as a “keychain” or “handy clip thing.”)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | September 20, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Joe Baldocky

Each year, we receive reminders not to use real names or trademarked names in our software testing or screen captures. When I’m trying to think up names for fictional accounts, I tend to blend literary names with names off the top of my head, or sometimes I use an online random name generator. One of my favorite names, however, is Joe Baldocky, my former father-in-law’s version of Joe Smith.

I never dreamed that different English-speaking groups would use different names, but this article from the Grammarist blog taught me something new!

John Doe is a name used in American English to denote a hypothetical, average man. John Doe is often used for an anonymous party in a legal action. The name for a hypothetical, average woman is Jane Doe. Other names for average hypothetical American men are Joe Blow, Joe Schmoe, John Q. Public, and Joe Sixpack, the latter referring to a blue collar worker. Joe Bloggs is the name for a hypothetical British man, as is John Smith. Fred Nerk is the name for a hypothetical Australian man, as is Joe Blow, Joe Bloggs, and John Citizen. In New Zealand, the term for a hypothetical man is Joe Bloggs, Joe Blow, or John Doe. In Canada, the hypothetical man is referred to as John Jones or Jos Bleau.

John Doe, Joe Bloggs, Fred Nerk and the other names are terms for anonymous characters. There are many situations where one may need to use an ambiguous name:

1) Legal actions in which the plaintiff or defendant must be kept anonymous

2) Unidentified bodies

3) Referring to an abandoned infant whose parents are not identified

4) When talking about the average American, Englishman or Australian

5) As an example when instructing how to fill out a form

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | September 19, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Scare Quotes and Sneer Words

I recently read an article about scare quotes and sneer words. They sound so ghoulish don’t they? Perfect for Halloween. Well they’re not quite as scary as they sound. Scare quotes and sneer words are devices that writers frequently use to state their opinion.

As you may already know, writers use scare quotes to draw attention to a word or phrase to point out that it is inaccurate or absurd.

Example: The “art” on display at the Tate Modern gallery in London included an empty wooden frame hanging on a wall and a separate display that highlighted a rusted light fixture.

The scare quotes around the word art make it clear that the writer does not consider the pieces on display to be art.

Sneer words, on the other hand, are adjectives that writers place before a word or phrase to indicate their disbelief or disdain: words like supposed, purported, would-be, self-appointed, etc.

Example: The supposed expert made many claims he could not corroborate.

Sneer words, like scare quotes, are a not-so-subtle way for writers and speakers to indicate their repugnance or disbelief.

Do these devices have a place in business writing? No. Our job is to be professional, not insulting. It is an interesting article though (click here to read it in its entirety); it serves as a useful warning for all of us who tend to be a little sarcastic.

Keep it classy, JHA.

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 | September 16, 2016

Editor’s Corner: C-Level

Good morning, folks! Today I’d like to talk a little bit about a term that you may have heard used to discuss the “higher-ups,” the “big cheeses,” the “grand poohbahs,” the “big kahunas,” or maybe the “head honchos” at a company. This term is “C-level” (not “sea-level,” as I first thought).

The C in “C-level” stands for “chief,” and in this case, it refers to the high-ranking executives within a company. The C-level executives are generally the most powerful, influential members of an organization, such as the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), and the chief operating officer (COO).

Here are a few more C-level titles for your perusal:

· CCO (chief compliance officer)

· CDO (chief data officer, chief digital officer)

· Chief IT architect

· Chief reputation officer

· Chief trust officer

· CHRO (chief human resources officer)

· CIO (chief information officer)

· CKO (chief knowledge officer)

· CLO (chief learning officer)

· CMO (chief marketing officer)

· CPIO (chief process and innovation officer)

· CPO (chief procurement officer)

· CRO (chief risk officer)

· CSO (chief strategy officer)

· CSO or CISO (chief security officer or chief information security officer)

· CTO (chief technology officer)

· CVO (chief visionary officer)

· CXO (chief experience officer)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | September 15, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Mortgage and Mortuary

Yes, I’m back with another couplet from Words of a Feather: A Humorous Puzzlement of Etymological Pairs, by Murray Suid. Today’s words of a feather are mortgage and mortuary.

For homeowners who actually don’t yet fully own their homes, the arrival of the monthly mortgage bill is as depressing as a visit to a mortuary.

And that shouldn’t be a surprise, for both mortgage and mortuary are built on the Old French mort, meaning “dead.” The French word traces back to the Latin mori, “to die,” the ultimate source for mortal, which refers to any living thing that has death in its future.

Mortgage combines the idea of death with gage, a pledge, suggesting that if the borrower doesn’t honor the pledge and pay what’s due on the loan, the property will be forfeited, lost, or—metaphorically—dead to its former owner.

Other mort words include mortify (to make as if dead), mortician (a beautician for dead folks), and, for those who like upbeat endings, immortality.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
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Posted by: episystechpubs | September 14, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Plaid and Tartan

The other day I received an unusual request for the Editor’s Corner. It wasn’t for “More etymologies, please!” or “Can you explain the difference between affect and effect?” Nope. This request was, “More Scots, please.” Well, I think I’ve covered the spelling difference of whiskey and whisky, and Ben talked about the words feck and couthie. But then came the answer to my prayers: an article from one of my favorite blogs (Grammarphobia) about plaids and tartans! Here’s a taste of the article for you, along with some photos to brighten your day. (Note: the spelling from the UK dictionaries is British spelling, not American spelling.)

Q: What is the difference between “plaid” and “tartan”? I’ve found many answers online, but they’re not consistent. Can you help?

A: We can see why you’re confused. The terms “plaid” and “tartan” are often used interchangeably, and the definitions in standard dictionaries differ in one way or another…

Despite their differences, dictionaries in both the US and the UK generally describe “plaid” as a pattern or fabric with a crisscross motif that includes “tartan” designs associated with Scotland.

Oxford Dictionaries online, for example, broadly defines “plaid” (the fabric) as “Chequered or tartan twilled cloth, typically made of wool.”

Oxford defines “tartan” more precisely as “a woollen cloth woven in one of several patterns of coloured checks and intersecting lines, especially of a design associated with a particular Scottish clan.”

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) defines “plaid” broadly as “a pattern on cloth of stripes with different widths that cross each other to form squares.”

But Merriam-Webster’s defines “tartan” more narrowly as “a traditional Scottish cloth pattern of stripes in different colors and widths that cross each other to form squares.”

For even more information on plaids and tartans, see Grammarphobia. For an official registry of Scottish tartans, see The Scottish Register of Tartans.

Select Scottish Tartans

One of the Fraser clan tartans

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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