Posted by: episystechpubs | June 12, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Erratum, addendum, and corrigendum

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I love learning the etymologies (origins) of words. Studying French and Spanish has helped with a lot of Latin root words; learning some Greek has helped with…surprise! Greek root words. Anyway, it is always interesting to me to see where the words we use come from. I was reading this article from The Grammarist and thought I’d share, since we use both the words errata and addenda in our Episys eDocs. Maybe we should start including corrigenda, too!

Erratum, addendum, and corrigendum

Erratum, addendum and corrigendum are all terms that are used in publishing, legal documents and computer programs. We will examine the difference in meaning between erratum, addendum and corrigendum, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Erratum refers to an error in a published material, a legal document or a computer program. The plural form of erratum is errata. Generally, errata is added to a recently published book in the form of inserted pages or at the end of a voluminous legal document. These corrections will be made in the next printing of the work. The word erratum is derived from the Latin word errare which means to wander or to make a mistake. [KC – Not to be confused with
Dean Martin’s “Volare, cantare…” which
means “to fly, to sing.”]

Addendum refers to information or material that is added to published material, a legal document or computer program. The plural form of addendum is addenda. An addendum is placed at the end of published material as additional information or documentation that is not needed in the original work, but does add more depth to the subject. The word addendum is derived from the Latin word addendus, meaning that which must be added. [KC – Not to be confused with “stupendous,” which is a great word to use for
Cirque de Soleil tricks.]

Corrigendum refers to text or material that is to be subtracted from published material, a legal document or a computer program. The plural form of corrigendum is corrigenda. Corrigenda usually list words and phrases that should be removed from the text, and provide the alternative words and phrases that should be inserted. The word corrigendum is derived from the Latin word corrigere, which means to correct. [KC – Not to be confused with, “No more hair, eh?”]

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | June 9, 2017

Editor’s Corner: June CMOS

Happy Friday! Today’s cranky, irritable fare is from this month’s Chicago Manual of Style Q&A. I hope you have a better day than they were having when they answered their email.

Q. I’m writing a book with hundreds of direct quotations. One guy keeps saying “24/7.” Looks strange to write it “twenty-four/seven,” but that would be the standard CMOS rule, would it not?

A. Another CMOS rule is “if it looks odd, don’t do it.”

Q. What is the distinction between yeah, yea, and yay? Is each confined to a specific usage?

A. Dictionaries are terrific for looking up what words mean. I found all these words at Merriam-Webster’s free online dictionary.

Yay means “hooray”; rhymes with day
Yea means “yes” or “indeed”; familiar to many from translations of the Bible; often used in voting (“yea or nay”); rhymes with day
Yeah means “yes”; famously used by the Beatles (“She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah”); rhymes with pretty much not anything (bleah?).

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | June 8, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Words That End in -ist

A curious individual asked me why the suffix −ist sometimes identifies a person in a positive light (humanist) and sometimes in a negative light (terrorist). What a great question that I think many of us have wondered about.

When we think of this suffix in terms of negative and positive, we are diminishing its actual significance because there are a lot of neutral –ist words (and people), as well.

To illustrate that point, I’ll share the four definitions for –ist offered by The Free Dictionary:

· One that performs a specified action: lobbyist, novelist

· A specialist in a specified art, science, or skill: biologist

· An adherent or advocate of a specified doctrine, theory, or school of thought: anarchist

· One that is characterized by a specified trait or quality: romanticist

So, it isn’t accurate to think of –ist as either positive or negative (optimist or sexist). The suffix really just allows us to categorize people. We humans like categorizing and labeling, and this is one of the ways we do it. If you’re honest with yourself, you can likely think of negative, positive, and neutral ­–ist words to describe yourself. Here are some you might choose from (this is not a complete list—there are plenty more):

Antagonist Artist Atheist
Cartoonist Chauvinist Conformist
Cyclist Egoist Extortionist
Hairstylist Humorist Hypnotist
Illusionist Minimalist Mixologist
Moralist Narcissist Nationalist
Naturalist Nudist Opportunist
Pacifist Pragmatist Socialist
Soloist Specialist Tourist

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 | June 7, 2017

Editor’s Corner: King’s Double-Cross

Dear readers,

Last week I wrote an article on King’s X, based on a blog by The Grammarist. According to the blog, King’s X is a term that is used in the American South, to indicate “time out” in the middle of a game.

I received quite a few emails about this term, and not a single person agreed with The Grammarist! Many of you from the South said that you’d never heard that term. The two people that had heard kids say “King’s X” or hold their fingers up in an “X” to indicate “time out” witnessed it from British kids!

I decided I would try to get to the bottom of this mystery. I emailed The Grammarist, but I have not heard a peep from the authors there. Here is what I have found:

King’s X is an American band that “combines progressive metal, funk, and soul with vocal arrangements influenced by gospel, blues, and British Invasion rock groups.” (More at Wikipedia.)

King’s X

According to Merriam-Webster, King’s X is defined as: “used as a cry in children’s games to claim exemption from being tagged or caught or to call for a time out.” Then they use an example from Robert Frost, an American poet: “…how they make haste to cry with fingers crossed King’s X —no fairs to use it any more.”

And finally, from the British blog, The Phrase Finder:

King’s X

Where did the phrase ‘King’s X’ come from? My husband says it to mean “stop—go no further with that.” I have read that some people that that it means to cross your fingers. I want to know about the meaning and origin of what my husband uses it for. (Teresa)

In Reply to: King’s X posted by Teresa on February 26, 2009:

King’s Cross has been the name of a place in North London since 1830, when a monument to King George IV was built there. The actual "king’s cross" is long gone, but the name is preserved in the name of the major railway terminus built there in 1852. Any use of this specific place-name can be no older than that. However, it has been absorbed into the very ancient system of children’s "truce terms"—the phrase, sometimes with an accompanying gesture, that children use to gain respite in a game. There is a huge variety of these in Britain, mostly (but by no means all) variants on eight basic types: "fains", "barley" (typically accompanied by the holding up of the thumb), "keys", "skinch" "scribs", "cree" "kings" and "crosses" (accompanied by crossing the fingers"). ("Pax" is used by middle-and-upper class children who go to fee-paying schools; unlike the others it is not a dialect term.) So, it seems that your husband comes from some region where the terms "kings" and "crosses" overlapped. If he is of British origin one would assume that it was the existence of the famous railway station that made it natural to merge them into one; but the Dictionary of American Regional English records the use of "kings cruse" (in an adult fight) as early as 1778. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truce_terms.

So there you have it. It seems to me that it is more British than American, but I can’t find any definitive source either way. I’d definitely stick with “time out” if I were to visit the South to play tag or some other game!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | June 6, 2017

Editor’s Corner: The Ultimate Misused Word

Can you spot the error in the following sentences?

· "Christopher Reeve portrayed Clark Kent, the penultimate middle America boy."

· "Many hard-core fans regard Van Halen’s debut album as the band’s penultimate contribution to the hard rock world."

· "You are faced with making the penultimate decision: Do I still want to be friends with a liar?"

If you noticed that they all misuse the word penultimate, you’re right. Penultimate means "next to the last." These writers should have used the word ultimate, which means "best" or "most extreme."

Penultimate comes from Latin paene ("almost") and ultimatus ("last"). You can also find the root paene in the word peninsula ("almost an island").

Some people have continued stringing together Latin prefixes to make fancy terms for third to last, fourth to last, and fifth to last:

· first

· second

· third

· …

· propreantepenultimate (fifth to last)

· preantepenultimate (fourth to last)

· antepenultimate (third to last)

· penultimate (second to last)

· ultimate (last)

I recommend avoiding these words. Penultimate causes enough trouble already.

Here are some correct uses of penultimate, taken from recent news stories:

· "Dutchman Tom Dumoulin limited his losses in the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday." – Reuters
[On the second-to-last day of the Italian bicycle race, Dumoulin fell further behind the leader, Nairo Quintana, but not by much.]

· "Penultimate Day of Elementary School Is Filled with Fun" – Oskaloosa Herald
[On the second-to-last day of school, students played on inflatable slides and ate snow cones.]

· "Warning: This story contains spoilers for the penultimate episode of HBO’s The Leftovers." – Hollywood Reporter
[The second-to-last episode of the TV series aired on May 28.]

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 | June 5, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Vog

You know me, I like to share things I learn on my vacations, along with a photo or two. Today’s term is something I learned about the weather when I was in Hawaii. My husband seemed to be coming down with a cold and missed snorkeling day. When I talked to the front desk and told them his symptoms, they said, “Well, there is a cold going around, but it might also be the vog. It really hits some people hard.”

“The what?” I asked.

“The vog. It’s volcanic smog. We’re having the highest and lowest tides on record, and there’s also volcanic smog in the air. It’s horrible for people with allergies.”

Here’s a little bit more on vog, from Wikipedia:

Vog is a form of air pollution that results when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight. The word is a portmanteau of the words "volcanic", "smog", and "fog". The term is in common use in the Hawaiian islands, where the Kīlauea volcano, on the Island of Hawaiʻi (aka "The Big Island"), has been erupting continuously since January 3, 1983. Based on June 2008 measurements, Kīlauea emits 2,000–4,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) every day.

Vog is created when volcanic gases (primarily oxides of sulfur) react with sunlight, oxygen and moisture. The result includes sulfuric acid and other sulfates. Vog is made up of a mixture of gases and aerosols, which makes it hard to study and potentially more dangerous than either on their own.

Vog above the mountains (Windward side of O’ahu)

No vog (Southern O’ahu, from atop Diamondhead)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | June 2, 2017

Editor’s Corner: King X

It’s all fun and games until somebody yells “King’s X!”

Some of my favorite studies and articles are about how different regions of the United States refer to the same things. For example, do you “mow the lawn” or do you “cut the grass”? (Click here to see the many comparisons.) I don’t do either—I let the dogs run around after each other until all that is left is dirt.

But that’s beside the point.

Today’s article is from The Grammarist, about the term King’s X, which means it’s time for a break in the game you are playing. I was particularly curious because the article says that these days, King’s X is mostly heard in the American South. Maybe some of you can verify this for me? I know growing up in Seattle, if we were playing a game and it was break time, we just yelled “Time out!” As for finger gestures, well, we won’t talk about those.

King’s X is a term that has only recently been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, but has been around for a long time. We will examine the meaning of the term King’s X, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

King’s X is a term used by schoolchildren to indicate a brief break from a game, known as a truce term. While very popular in the 1950s, the term King’s X is currently mostly found in the American South. Equivalent terms used worldwide are fains which is used in England, barley which is used in England and Australia and pegs or nibs used in New Zealand. In the United States, the simple exclamation time out! has replaced King’s X, for the most part. Usually, the cry King’s X is accompanied by the gesture of crossing one’s fingers. The Oxford English Dictionary cites this gesture as the origin of the term King’s X, though it may also be linked to the King’s Mark. This was a seal affixed to documents, including documents guaranteeing safe passage or other favors to subjects carrying it. Notice the placement of the apostrophe in the word King’s in King’s X, as it is a possessive noun. Furthermore, note that both King’s and X are properly rendered with capital letters.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | June 1, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Fun, Funner, Funnest!

I recently read a history of the word fun. And if the subject of this email makes you cringe, the information I’m about to share might make you rethink that reaction, or at least it will give you some food for thought.

Back in the late 1600s, the word fun started out as a verb meaning “to indulge in banter or play.” For example, “Don’t be angry; I was only funning.” Usage as a verb is rare today.

Fun became a noun in the 1700s. For example, “Let the fun begin,” or “We had fun together,” or “My brother torments me for the fun of it.” These examples show how we typically use the word fun today.

Now, the really interesting part—according to the article I read, fun only started being used regularly as an adjective in the 1950s. For example, “That was a fun party.”

And that brings us to the comparative funner and the superlative funnest. I know, I know—those words are like sand in your shoes or gum in your hair. But think about it. Many one syllable adjectives take the –er and ­–est suffixes: tall, taller tallest; smart, smarter, smartest; loud, louder, loudest.

So, if we agree that fun can be used as an adjective, why can’t we say funner and funnest? Well, it’s because we recognize that the word is used as an adjective, but grammarians consider it to be casual, not standard, usage. In other words, it is not widely accepted; so, don’t start having a funner time yet.

I know you’ve read this in other Editor’s Corner articles—languages are always evolving. Usage determines the rules, so rules change in relation to how people actually speak or write. But don’t worry—we’ll do our best to keep you up to date with the latest news about words, grammar, and language in the funnest emails you’ll get all day!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

Posted by: episystechpubs | May 31, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Lieutenant

Several of you asked about the term “lieutenant” after my email yesterday about military terms. The most common question was “Why do the British pronounce it leftenant?” Nobody seems to know the real story about how that evolved, though there are certainly a lot of theories. My favorite was from someone in the UK who said something like, “The British don’t like the French, so they refused to pronounce it the way the French would.”

From The Grammarist

Lieutenantis the only spelling of the word denoting a second in charge, a deputy, or a rank in the armed forces and (in the United States) police services. The spelling is the same in all varieties of English, regardless of pronunciation. Confusion sometimes arises because, in the U.S., the word is routinely said “lootenant” (or sometimes “lyootenant”), while in the United Kingdom and other countries of the British Commonwealth the preferred pronunciation is “leftenant.” The “American” pronunciation is, however, becoming commonplace in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and even the U.K., albeit mostly outside official usage.

Like a great many words in English (e.g. drought, colonel, sergeant, debt, etc.), the modern pronunciation may not be phonetic and sometimes seems to be downright antiphonetic. The British pronunciation of lieutenant derives from its history, much of which remains obscure. Premodern spellings (e.g. luff-, leif-, etc.) show that the “lef-” pronunciation has a long history but was by no means the sole one. At some point, spelling and pronunciation diverged in Britain, only to converge again later in the United States. To confuse matters further, the British Royal Navy traditionally pronounced the word “luhtenant,” although this seems to have fallen out of favor.

Neither the British nor the American way of saying lieutenant is inherently better or worse than any other. The choice depends on context (it might be inappropriate to say “lootenant governor” in Canada, for instance) and, to some extent, personal preference

Here is the etymology of the word, from Wikipedia.

The word lieutenant derives from French; the lieu meaning "place" as in a position (cf. in lieu of); and tenant meaning "holding" as in "holding a position"; thus a "lieutenant" is a placeholder for a superior, during their absence (compare the Latin locum tenens).

In the 19th century, British writers who considered this word either an imposition on the English language, or difficult for common soldiers and sailors, argued for it to be replaced by the [word] "steadholder." However, their efforts failed, and the French word is still used, along with its many variations (e.g. lieutenant colonel, lieutenant general, lieutenant commander, flight lieutenant, second lieutenant and many non-English language examples), in both the Old and the New World.

And here are some photos from Pearl Harbor last week, because my idea of “Spring Break” is a little different from other people’s. J

Pearl Harbor

Model of the sunken USS Arizona and the USS Arizona Memorial

Actual photo of the ship and the memorial [KC – This one is from the internet.]

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | May 30, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Post-Memorial Day Military Terms

Here’s a list of military terms that we have adopted into civilian life, from Daily Writing Tips. Photos from Pearl Harbor and Oahu trip to be included in later posts!

captain: ultimately from Latin caput (“head”), originally referring to the leader of a war party and later to a military officer in command of a set unit or a ship; later, applied in general to a leader or head of a group or team.

cavalry: from Italian cavaliere (“horseman”), a body of soldiers mounted on horses (and later those assigned to mechanized units); by extension, from the cliché in movie westerns of a US cavalry unit coming to the rescue of the protagonists, used in references to one or more people who bring aid to others.

lieutenant: from Old French lieu tenant (“in place of”), originally, an officer who was deputy to a captain but later also a specific military rank; in civilian usage, a right-hand man or woman or a subordinate.

muster: from Latin monstrare (“to show”)—interestingly, akin to monster—referring to an assembly of military personnel or serving as a verb synonymous with assemble, but also pertains to any assembly, collection, or inventory, or to a sample or specimen.

picket: from French piquer (“pierce”), a group of soldiers assigned to guard a camp, or the action of doing so; in civilian usage, a distinct meaning of “protesting during a demonstration or strike” or a reference to a sharp stake, such as one that is part of a picket fence.

rank-and-file: from Old English ranc (“strong”) and Latin filum (“cord” or “thread), the arrangement of military personnel in rows and columns; by extension, a reference to ordinary employees or members as opposed to those in leadership roles.

reserve: from Latin reservare (“keep back”), one or more units of soldiers kept more or less in readiness in case they are needed as reinforcements; in general usage, anything kept in stock or kept apart from a general issue or supply.

scout: from Latin auscultare (“heed,” “listen”), a person, sometimes a local civilian—or a group called a scouting party—sent to explore, observe, or search to obtain information about the enemy; in entertainment or sports, someone who observes prospective performers or recruits.

sergeant: from Latin serviens (“servant”), originally referred to a servant but later applied to an experienced common soldier who supervised others under command of a nobleman or knight; the term now denotes an experienced soldier or police officer holding the rank of sergeant or (in the military) a variation of the rank such as staff sergeant.

task force: from taxare (“tax”), a unit formed temporarily to achieve a specific objective; the sense in civilian usage is the same.

troops: from Old French trope (“band,” “company”), also the source of troupe, collectively refers to soldiers (in singular form the name of a specific military unit, not a designation for a single soldier); in general usage, an informal reference to a company’s employees or an organization’s members (as in “Round up the troops for a meeting”).

wingman: originally a term for a pilot who supports the leader of a flying formation, now also slang for someone who backs up a person who seeks to approach potential romantic…partners.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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