Posted by: episystechpubs | December 10, 2020

Editor’s Corner: More Malaphors and Contest Results

Good morning, everyone!

A big thank you to everyone who sent in a submission (or a bunch of them) for the malaphor contest. Just to jog your memory, a malaphor is a mix of aphorisms, idioms, or clichés. I received tons of submissions. Some might not really qualify as malaphors, some have been borrowed from elsewhere, and some are from families who seem to have a talent for mixing their phrases unknowingly. I did ask for G-rated, but there are a few in here that might get into PG-13. Consider yourselves warned!

And the winners? Keith Slayton sent in the most submissions and made the 15-year-old schoolboy in my head laugh out loud. I will share most of his with you in the next email. And our random winner is Rebecca Nellis, who submitted “The road to hell wasn’t paved in a day,” which seems like a pretty good description of this past year.

Today, in no particular order, is the first batch. Enjoy!

Ted Tarris

  • Half a dozen of one and that’s a whole other bowl of worms.
  • Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, won’t get fooled again.
  • He’s a couple beers short of an early bird.

Ron Harman

  • Once in a blue moon, you may need to tell ‘em to put it where the sun don’t shine.
  • If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you hold your horses?
  • My ears are burning the candle at both ends.
  • He was three sheets to the wind beneath my wings.
  • I’m up the creek without a pot to pee in.

Nathan Allen

  • Don’t count all the eggs in one basket.
  • Don’t make a mountain out of a hill of beans.
  • As busy as a one-legged bee.
  • The truth is as plain as the nose you cut off to spite your face.
  • Let sleeping dogs lie or you’ll wake up with fleas.

Jason Matheney

  • Jumping through some hurdles.
  • Whole nother ballgame to tackle.
  • I ain’t gonna spill milk over it.
  • Preaching to the crowd.

Laura Reece

  • Killing two birds in one bush.

Dan Green

  • Don’t kill the goose that lays all your eggs in one basket.
  • It’s no use beating a gift horse midstream.
  • Walk softly, but carry a big bull by the horns.
  • Don’t put the cart before the beaten, dead gift horse that you can’t make drink and looked in the mouth and changed midstream.

Rebecca Nellis

Dave Foss

  • That’s water over the bridge.

Debbie Seufert

  • A bird in hand is worth its weight in gold.

Robert Ellison

  • It ain’t rocket surgery.

Javier Romero

  • If the pie fits, shoot it.

George Cameron

  • Has the cat got your nose?
  • A bird in the head hurts (from the Dick Van Dyke show)

From classic TV/movies:

  • I’ll run it up the flag pole and see if it makes a splash.
  • You’re burning the candle at both ends—and in the middle too!

Brent Jones

  • Don’t count your chickens until the cows come home.
  • Never look a gift horse in the eye.
  • Cuts like a knife through sliced bread.
  • All that glitters isn’t money in the bank.
  • Every cloud has a silver rainbow.
  • When life gives you lemons, look on the bright side.

Riley Hughes

  • If the ducks align…

Mari Kreft

  • He’s all hat and no cattle.
  • He’s as funny as a rubber gut.

Yonesy Núñez

  • A bird in hand is worth more than two eggs in a basket.

Mary Schneider

  • He is a few fruit loops short of the top of the elevator.
  • He is a few fruit loops short of a plate of spaghetti.

Brandi Binion

  • All that glitters is having cake and eating it too.

And two of you included me in your email malaphor battle. Rather than include the whole string of combatant barbs to each other, I am just including the resulting malaphors from Ron, and a now-retired Symitarian, Michael Timmerman. You might be able to tell by his malaphors that Ron is missing the treats we used to bring in to share with each other.

Ron Fauset

  • Take me out to the ballgame to eat cake.
  • It’s raining cats and let them eat cake.
  • Don’t bite the hand that lets them eat cake.
  • Bend over backwards to let them eat cake.
  • You can lead a horse to water and let them eat cake.
  • A fool and his money lets them eat cake.
  • A stitch in time to let them eat cake.
  • Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth when they’re eating cake.
  • Nothing’s certain in life but letting them eat cake.
  • Add insult to let them eat cake.
  • That’s the best thing since letting them eat cake.
  • Burn the midnight oil to let them eat cake.
  • Cost an arm and let them eat cake.

Michael Timmerman

  • That’s putting the cake before the dead horse.
  • You can’t swing a piece of cake around here without hitting a bullseye!
  • I can’t swing a dead horse around here without hitting a malaphor!
  • Fine! You can have my malaphor when you can pry it from my cold, dead horse!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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

Posted by: episystechpubs | December 8, 2020

Editor’s Corner: More Pronoun Information

Hi, folks.

Recently, I wrote about the pronouns I and me. And I asked whether it is correct to say, “It is me” or “It is I.” (Hint: the correct phrase is “It is I.”)

I have a little more information about pesky pronouns. Today, I’m offering you some comparisons, and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pick the correct sentence from the pairs listed here:

  • She sings better than me.
  • She sings better than I.
  • I am taller than she.
  • I am taller than her.

If you chose mefor the first pair and herfor the second, you’re in good company. But just as I mentioned last time with the phrase “It is I,” they sound right because of many years of incorrect usage by many people. Here are the correct sentences:

  • She sings better than I.
  • I am taller than she.

And here is the reasoning: what we really mean to say is, “She sings better than I sing” and “I am taller than she is.” If you want a trick to help you remember which pronoun to use, all you have to do is repeat the verb:

  • She sings better than I sing.
  • I am taller than she is.

And just one more comment about pronouns. We have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating—at JHA, we advocate and encourage the use of they as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. For example, we would write, “If the client experiences any problem, they should open a case” (rather than “he or she should open a case”). Using they as a singular pronoun, even in professional writing, is also endorsed by Merriam-Webster, the APA, the Oxford English Dictionary, and many other well-regarded resources because it is respectful and inclusive of all people, and it helps writers avoid making assumptions about gender.

Now go enjoy your 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 | December 3, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Simplify (and Contest Reminder)

Hello, folks! Today I have an extensive list of ways to minimize unnecessary wordiness. If you have your grammar checker turned on in Word or Outlook®, you have probably seen some of these corrections. (And if you aren’t using the spelling or grammar help, do yourself a favor and review these documents: proofreading in Word and Outlook.)

These phrase alternatives are from Daily Writing Tips:

The following phrases need not be summarily replaced by more concise alternatives, but consider making the switch, especially when you find yourself using various wordy phrases frequently in the same text.

1. a number of: some, many
2. afford an opportunity: allow, let
3. an appreciable number of: many
4. as a means of: to
5. as prescribed by: in, under
6. at the present time: now
7. by means of: by, with
8. comply with: follow
9. due to the fact that: because, due to, since
10. during the period of: during
11. for a period of: for
12. has a requirement for: needs, requires
13. have an adverse effect on: hurt, set back
14. in a timely manner: on time, promptly
15. in accordance with: by, following, per, under
16. in addition: also, besides, too
17. in an effort to: to
18. in close proximity: near
19. in lieu of: instead of
20. in order for: for
21. in order that: so
22. in order to: to
23. in regard to: about, concerning, on
24. in relation to: about, to, with
25. in the amount of: amounting to, for
26. in the event of: if
27. in the near future: shortly, soon
28. in the process of: (omit without replacement)
29. in view of: because, since
30. is applicable to: applies to
31. is authorized to: can, may
32. is in consonance with: agrees with, follows
33. is responsible for: handles
34. it is essential that [one]: [one] must
35. it is incumbent upon [one] to: [one] should, [one] must
36. it is requested that you: please
37. pertaining to: about, of, on
38. provide(s) guidance for/to: guides [KC – And you shouldn’t be using (s) like that! Write it singularly, or plurally if there can be more than one. People will get it. The parentheses just make things more
convoluted.]
39. relative to: about, on
40. set forth in: in
41. similar to: like
42. successfully accomplish/complete: accomplish/complete [KC – And don’t use a slash if you can use a word or punctuation, for example “accomplish or complete,” or “accomplish, complete, or die trying.”]
43. take action to: (omit without replacement)
44. the month (or year) of: (omit without replacement)
45. the use of: (omit without replacement)
46. time period: period, time
47. under the provisions of: under
48. until such time as: until
49. with reference to: about
50. with the exception of: except

Sometimes we get carried away and use these phrases, but your writing is much stronger and more straightforward without a lot of extra fluff. Try cutting these phrases out of your writing! It’s easy and it’s fun!

And don’t forget, if you have any malaphors for the contest, they are due Tuesday, December 8. Here are a couple from the book I’m giving as a prize to two winners, He Smokes Like a Fish and Other Malaphors:

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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

Posted by: episystechpubs | December 1, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Normalcy or Normality?

Dear Editrix,

Recently I’ve heard a lot of comments about a “return to …” should it be normalcy or normality? Are both correct? Is it a regional difference? I see and hear it both ways on different media. It’s certainly a phrase that is tossed around more than it used to be.

Sincerely,

Curious

Dear Curious,

You are not the only one to wonder about these words—in fact The Grammarist wrote up a short but sweet article on the topic and provided a cool graph that shows the increased use of both words over the last hundred years. And both words originally shared increased usage in 1920, thanks to President Harding and the desire to return to “the good life,” before World War I. I guess the Great Depression and World War II might be what they would’ve called the “new normal.” Here is a brief history behind normality and normalcy.

Normality and normalcy are different forms of the same word. Normality is centuries older, though, and many English authorities consider it the superior form, for what that’s worth. Nouns ending in -cy usually come from adjectives ending in -t—for example, pregnancy from pregnant, complacency from complacent, hesitancy from hesitant—while adjectives ending in -l usually take the -ity suffix. Normalcy is unique in flouting this convention.

Normalcy was popularized in the early 20th century thanks to President Warren G. Harding’s “return to normalcy” campaign slogan (though the word did exist before then), and language authorities have been unable to stamp it out.

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 24, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Malaphor Contest

Hello everyone! My coworker Jane sent me a new term, some examples of this term, and a great suggestion. Let’s get right to it!

The word of the day is malaphor. The website ThoughtCo defines a malaphor as “…an informal term for a mixture of two aphorisms, idioms, or clichés (such as "We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it"). Another name for the term is “an idiom blend.

Let’s have a look at some malaphors from ThoughtCo and then from elsewhere.

  • You hit the nail right on the nose.
  • I can read him like the back of my book.
  • We could stand here and talk until the cows turn blue.
  • It’s time to step up to the plate and lay your cards on the table.
  • He’s burning the midnight oil from both ends.
  • It sticks out like a sore throat.

And from Richard Lederer:

  • It’s like looking for a needle in a hayride.
  • It’s time to swallow the bullet.
  • It’s as easy as falling off a piece of cake.
  • That guy’s out to butter his own nest.

Here are some other ones from The Big List of Malaphors:

  • The table is on the other foot now.
  • The apple doesn’t fall from the scene of the crime.
  • Not the sharpest egg in the drawer.
  • If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, wear it.
  • You’ve buttered your bread, and now you’ve got to lie in it.
  • Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, give a man a rod, and he’ll look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • He’s not the sharpest cookie in the drawer.
  • The lights are on, but there is no-one at the wheel.
  • Don’t count your chickens over spilled milk.
  • You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it float.

And now, for those of you who are guilty of speaking in malaphors or for those of you just ready for the challenge of making up your own mixes…I have a contest for you! I hereby invite our clients, JHA employees, former employees, and friends (in the United States)—to participate. Between now and December 8, 2020, send me your malaphors that aren’t already on the lists here. (And though I am not sure of any naughty idioms, I ask that you keep your submissions clean enough for G-rated readers.)

I’ll share the submissions with everyone, and I’ll pick two winners—the person with the best, funniest malaphor, and a random pick from the submitters. The two winners will receive their own copy of He Smokes Like a Fish and Other Malaphors as your prize!

If I don’t receive any submissions, then you can just go on your merry way and forget about malaphors. Thank you, Jane, and good luck to everyone!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 19, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Fair to Middlin’

Dear Editrix,

As a teenager in the ‘90s, when I asked older people, “How are you?” a frequent response was “fair to middling.” The other day I used the phrase myself and thought, “Shoot, I just got old!” Do you know how this phrase came to mean “OK”? And why only old people use it?

Sincerely,

Young at Heart

Dear Young at Heart,

What an interesting question. I thought I found a short, sweet response from the Grammarist, but then I found another article that expanded on the phrase, and I couldn’t choose between the two. Here is the shorter response, from the Grammarist, which tells you how old it is (but not why older folks like to use the phrase), what it means, a bit of its history, and how it is sometimes misheard:

Fair to middling describes something that is average or only slightly above average. The term is an American phrase, used as early as the 1820s. The term fair to middling originally referred to gradations of quality in cotton, sheep, and other farm goods. Such goods may be designated into categories such as fine, good, fair, middling and poor. By the 1860s the phrase fair to middling evolved into common speech to mean something average or slightly above average.

Fair to midland is a mondegreen, which is a misheard version of a phrase, saying, lyric, poetic phrase, or slogan. Some speculate that the phrase began as a joke concerning the English Midlands or Midland, Texas. It is most likely simply a mishearing of the word middling, especially when pronounced as “middlin’.”

This second article expands on the information from the Grammarist and gives it a bit of a Texas twist. In honor of all the Texans that work at JHA, I wanted to provide the opportunity to read this story from Texas Monthly. Despite my trimming, it is a bit lengthy, but it is an interesting read if you have a couple of extra minutes. Enjoy!

Decades ago, when my dad and I were Texans exiled in Nashville, I would often see him tell people he was “fair to middlin’” after people would inquire about his general well-being. When asked what he meant, he’d explain, “Oh, it’s an old Texan expression to describe cotton. It means ‘doing pretty well.’”

Maybe it wasn’t my imagination. Back before the sale of steers and oil took over the Texas economy, Texas was the jewel in the crown of the cotton states, and much of our vernacular stemmed from the cotton patch….

While the saying originates in a British phrase, “fair to middlin’” unequivocally is a cotton patch term that took root in Texas. Thanks to progressive metal bands from northeast Texas and a Dwight Yoakam single, Texans tricked the Brits into accepting our own bastardized remaking—“fair to Midland”—as their own.

“Fair,” in this sense, means top-of-the-line, in the old British sense of “a maiden so fair” or Shakespeare’s “Happy the parents of so fair a child!” But as applied to cotton, the term is of relatively recent (at least post-Revolutionary War) vintage. Most of the cotton harvested and exported in the Southern states in the nineteenth century was trundled down to the coast and loaded up in ports like Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, Charleston, and Savannah and sent to Liverpool, where it was distributed to “dark Satanic mills” across Lancashire, in northwestern England.

In Liverpool around 1800, the cotton brokers came up with the Liverpool Classification, a grading system for the raw material’s quality. The system was quoted in American newspapers up until the Civil War, acting as a nineteenth-century NASDAQ for Southern cotton farmers.

In 1828, per a Natchez, Mississippi newspaper, the Liverpool Classification ranged in quality from “ordinary and middling” to “middling to fair” to “fair to good fair” to “good and fine.” That highest grade denoted a supreme product that evidently was so rare, I could find no record of sale for such finely-wrought white gold in the accounts of several trading sessions.

While most of those adjectives stuck around in the vernacular, the Liverpool Classification was never widely embraced and had fallen out of favor by the time of the Civil War.

And at some point — it’s hard to pinpoint when — people on both sides of the pond started switching “middling fair” to “fair to middling” (in the U.K.) and “fair to middlin’” in the South and Texas. It also vaulted out of the cottonfields and came to be used to describe many things — you could be feeling “fair to middlin” about life in general, or you could look out the window and see that the weather was much the same.

Somewhere along the way, the phrase lost its connotation for top-grade quality. Today, some see it akin to the more commonly American “can’t complain,” or perhaps the French “comme ci, comme ça.” For younger folks, perhaps it’s been replaced by “meh.”

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 17, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Under the Weather

Dear Editrix,

I have heard the phrase “under the weather” all my life and I know it typically means that someone is not feeling well. Are there any other meanings that differ and where did the phrase originate?

Sincerely,

Christy

Dear Christy,

Indeed, the term “under the weather” is an English phrase that means someone is feeling sick. I didn’t find any different meanings for the idiom, but I did find the origin.

Several sites provided a similar answer about its history, but I liked the one from the Farmers’ Almanac the best because they said they love learning phrases about the weather. It also references Richard Lederer, whose articles I share with y’all now and then.

Linguist Richard Lederer tells us that “under the weather,” meaning, feeling ill, comes from the language of sailors.

On the high seas when the wind would start to blow hard and the water became rough, crewmen and travelers would go below deck and down to their cabins to ride out the storm and avoid becoming seasick. In this way they literally retreat to a location “under the weather.”

In digging a little further, we find out more. According to Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions, by Bill Beavis and Richard G. McCloskey, the term in its entirety is “under the weather bow;” they tell us the weather bow is “the side [of the ship] upon which all the rotten weather is blowing.”

I hope that you have a great day and that you stay above the weather!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 12, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Cobalt

Today’s Editor’s Corner is dedicated to my good friend Edith, who I miss horribly even though she just lives about ½ mile from us. Get away ye evil COVID! We miss our friends!

I have, again, another excerpt from Even-Steven and Fair and Square: More Stories Behind the Words by Morton S. Freeman. Today’s passage is about cobalt.

Cobalt is a hard, brittle metallic element resembling nickel and iron in appearance. In German, the name Kobolt meant an underground goblin, “a silver stealer,” whose habitat was the veins in silver ore.

Scientists in the Middle Ages determined that arsenic found in cobalt-containing ores could cause ulceration of the feet and hands of miners. The unlearned people of that time went a step further. They contended that the gnome Kobalt (a variant spelling) was found in cobalt and that its proximity to silver ores harmed them. How wrong that folk belief was! Today cobalt appears in the Periodic Table of the Elements—atomic number 27—a noninjurious element that happily has proved useful to mankind in many ways.

The five-cent coin, commonly called a nickel and made of nickel and copper alloy, also was named after a goblin, the German Nickel from Nicolaus, similar to the English Old Nick for “Devil.” The Germans called the copper-colored nickel Kupfernickel, meaning “fool’s copper,” a metal much less valuable than copper. The substitution of the cheap metal for the valuable copper in the ore was attributed to the demonic maliciousness of sprites. Apparently, minerology is just a stone’s throw from German mythology.

Cobalt, the element

But why do we refer to the brilliant blue hue as cobalt blue, if the element is silver? This is not part of the story of mythology, but I had to find the answer. The color of cobalt blue is made from mixing a version of the element with alumina and roasted at a high temperature. The result is a beautiful blue, used in painting, ceramics, frescoes, and other art. (For the short story on cobalt blue, read here.)

Cobalt blue

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 10, 2020

Recall: Editor’s Corner: Bootleggers

Maggie Vela would like to recall the message, “Editor’s Corner: Bootleggers”.

Posted by: episystechpubs | November 10, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Bootleggers

Hello Lonnie,

Can you do 9:30 today?

Maggie Vela

From: Kara Church <KChurch@jackhenry.com>
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2020 8:18 AM
To: Kara Church <KChurch@jackhenry.com>
Cc: Editors Corner <EditorsCorner@jackhenry.com>; 74serranos@gmail.com; Alexandra Walters <alexandra.walters@aacreditunion.org>; Alicia JaramilloAlicia Jaramillo <jaramilloalicia@gmail.com>; Allison Sherburne <allison.k.sherburne@accenturefederal.com>; Andi Kent <Akent802@gmail.com>; angeliki.economou@gmail.com; Anita Solano <Anita.Solano@calbt.com>; Annabelle Chappell <annabellechappell1@gmail.com>; Anne Wehe <awehe4@gmail.com>; April Ryan <ry6apr@yahoo.com>; ashka.mehta20@gmail.com; Becky Keith <becky.d.keith@gmail.com>; Belair1968@aol.com; Benjamin Saltzer <bsaltzer@BarTracks.com>; BEX <bexdancer459@gmail.com>; Bill Ostash <bill_ostash@dcecu.org>; rrussman <rrussman@msufcu.org>; Brad Eisenberg <brad.eisenberg@att.net>; brent.edward.jones@gmail.com; Brian Wixson <BWixson@LAFCU.com>; Brittany Allen <Brittany.allen@coxhealth.com>; Bruce Greenway <bgreenwa@msufcu.org>; Bruce W. 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Subject: Editor’s Corner: Bootleggers

I was just browsing through the book Even-Steven and Fair and Square: More Stories Behind the Words by Morton S. Freeman, and I came upon an interesting entry about bootleggers. As I have mentioned before, though, I sometimes end up digging into something and I end up down a rabbit hole. Welcome to today’s journey.

As far as Mr. Freeman’s definition for bootlegger, he has this to say:

Bootlegger is an odd name for a booze peddler. The name originally was applied to those who trafficked in illegal liquor by smuggling, especially among the (indigenous Americans), flasks of firewater in the legs of their boots, a practice designed to conceal the illicit merchandise from government agents. With time, the term bootlegger came to be applied to distributors of illegal booze, whether delivered by hand or by truck or even left at a convenient place. No longer did a bootlegger operate through his boots. Remember the story of the station master who, during Prohibition, called up the Greek professor and said: “Professor, you’d better get down to the station fast because your package of books is leaking all over the platform.”

I found that interesting, but I was surprised at the brevity of the entry. And then, because they’re related by alcohol and illegality, I thought about the word speakeasy. Here is where my path followed the little white rabbit into the internet hole and went hopping.

First, I thought I’d check the definition of speakeasy with one of my favorite sites, the Online Etymology Dictionary:

speakeasy

"unlicensed saloon," 1889 (in the New York "Voice"), from verbal phrase, from speak (v.) + easy (adv.); so called from the practice of speaking quietly about such a place in public, or when inside it, so as not to alert the police and neighbors. The word gained wide currency in U.S. during Prohibition (1920-1932). In early 19c. Irish and British dialect, a speak softly shop meant "smuggler’s den."

My temptation was to go even further into my interests, which include architecture and history, but I can’t get too much further off track. I’ve heard tell of cool, hidden speakeasy entryways here in America, and I did a quick search to find an example of one in general. I found one in New York (an original Prohibition speakeasy, still in use) and a modern entrance from Shanghai.

New York water tower speakeasy

Shanghai Coke machine entrance to a modern speakeasy

Kara Church

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