Posted by: episystechpubs | March 26, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Happy Thor’s Day

Have you ever wondered how the days of the week got their names? Well it’s a long, old story that started with the ancient Babylonians in the Persian Gulf around 4000 BC.

The Babylonians are responsible for the seven-day week. They named the days after the sun, the moon, and the five planets they could see in the sky.

Around the 12th century BC, the Greeks adopted the seven-day week from the Babylonians. They also named a day after the sun and moon, but they changed the names of the other five days to honor their gods.

Then, around the first century BC, came the Romans. They stuck with the same seven-day week, and they changed the names of the days that honored Greek gods to honor their Roman gods. At first, they also named a day for both the sun and the moon—until Emperor Constantine, a convert to Christianity, decided to change the name of the day of the sun to Dominicus, which means “Lord’s day.”

At the end of the 4th century AD, with the fall of the Roman Empire, Anglo-Saxons had their turn to name the days of the week. They liked the seven-day plan and the idea of naming days named after the sun and moon, but (surprise!) they changed the names of the other five days to honor their gods. And as their language evolved into Old English, the names of the days of the week started to sound a lot like our present-day English words:

Sunday = Sonnandæg

Monday = Monandæg

Tuesday = Tiwesdæg

Wednesday = Wodensdæg

Thursday = Thouresdæg

Friday = Frigadæg

Saturday = Saeternsdæg

So, what we have now, in English, is one day named for the sun, one day named for the moon, and five days named for Norse gods. English is such a glorious hodgepodge!

If you’re interested in seeing how the names changed with each language shift, read Grammar Girl’s article called How Did the Days of the Week Get Their Names? The super cool image below comes from her article and breaks the information down by civilization and language. You’ll notice that French and Spanish days of the week align more closely with the Roman civilization.

Happy Thor’s day!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

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 | March 24, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Memes and more

I remember when the word meme started being used more frequently, and my exasperated husband tried to provide me with examples of what people were talking about. I know what a meme is now, but I thought this comparison of notion, meme, and trope was interesting, and I thought I’d share a condensed version with you. The full article is here on Grammarphobia.

Q: Is there a distinction between a meme, a trope, and a notion? This came up during a discussion I had with a couple of English professors. [KC – Mistake number one!] We would appreciate your advice and have agreed to follow it.

A: This is the kind of question that can lead into the great Grimpen Mire. Vogue words—and “meme” is especially hot right now—tend to blur as they’re tossed around indiscriminately.

But these three words do have distinct meanings. Simply put, a “notion” exists in a mental form, like an idea or a desire. A “meme” exists in a more tangible form and is contagious, like a quirky fashion or a video clip that goes viral. Finally, a “trope” exists in a literary form, like a figure of speech or a thematic device.

The definitions in standard dictionaries are fairly straightforward. We’ll use those from Lexico (formerly Oxford Dictionaries Online), along with examples of our own in italics.

  • notion: “A conception of or belief about something.” (That’s not my notion of an inexpensive lunch.) … “An impulse or desire, especially one of a whimsical kind.” (She had a notion to send him flowers.)
  • meme: “An element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means.” (Robotic dogs were a cultural meme a few years ago.) … “An image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.” (Who ever thought that a funny cat photo would become a meme?)
  • trope: “A figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression.” (The author’s favorite trope is hyperbole.) … “A significant or recurrent theme; a motif.” (The play’s references to wills and inheritance serve as a trope.)

As for their etymologies, all these words are derived from Latin or Greek.

“Notion” was a direct borrowing from Latin, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. In classical Latin, nōtiōn- or nōtiō meant “concept, idea, legal or intellectual examination,” the OED says, and in post-classical Latin it also meant “knowledge, understanding.”

Unlike “notion,” the noun “meme” is a modern invention. It was coined by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and first appeared in his book The Selfish Gene (1976). He adapted it, the OED says, from the ancient Greek noun μίμημα (mīmēma, something imitated), which comes from the verb μιμεῖσθαι (mīmeisthai, to imitate)….

“Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches.”

A generation later, “meme” acquired its internet meaning, which was first recorded in the late 1990s. The OED’s earliest example refers to an animation of a dancing baby: “The next thing you know, his friends have forwarded it on and it’s become a net meme.”

Finally we come to “trope,” the oldest of the three words. It was borrowed into Old English from Latin or Greek, apparently forgotten, and then reborrowed in the 16th century. As the OED explains, “trope” was “probably a borrowing from Latin” but “perhaps” came from the earlier Greek.

The Latin tropus (figure of speech) can be traced to the Greek noun τρόπος (tropos, turn, direction, or way), from the verb τρέπειν (trepein, to turn, direct, or change). The etymology makes sense if you think of a “trope” as a turn of phrase.

Today “trope” also has technical meanings in music, astronomy, philosophy, and mathematics. But it’s still used in many disciplines…to mean figurative or metaphorical language.

Other famous memes:

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | March 20, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Virus-free Edition

Hello, folks! Stir crazy yet? Well, today I thought maybe everyone could use a little bit of humor to lighten the day. Friday is not a typical day for Editor’s Corner, and this isn’t really a typical Editor’s Corner. What I have for you are just some funny church signs, temple signs, street signs, and the text from signs that might give you a bit of a giggle.

Happy Friday!

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 | March 19, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Eliminate Wordiness

Good morning, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and adjusting to the new normal. It’s normal for you to get an Editor’s Corner email on Thursday, so let’s get going! I hope you find this useful. 😊

One of the hardest things for writers to do is write succinctly. Especially in professional writing, the fewer words you use, the better. Before sending an email or posting or publishing a document, you always want to look for and remove unnecessary words and phrases (they’re unnecessary when they don’t add any value or meaning to the sentence).

I’ll give you some examples, but be aware that there is always more than one way to revise a wordy sentence. The revisions I provide are only one suggestion; there are other possibilities. Your goal should be to use as few words as possible while retaining clarity.

First draft of sentence Revised sentence
He dropped out of school on account of the fact that it was necessary for him to help support his family. He dropped out of school to help support his family.
It is very unusual to find someone who has never told a lie on purpose. Rarely will you find someone who has never lied on purpose.
In the not too distant future, technology companies will need to become aware of the fact that there is a need for them to try to figure out what’s coming in the future instead of just keeping up with the trends. Technology companies need to predict future possibilities rather than simply keep up with current trends.

Sometimes, as you revise to reduce wordiness, you’ll just remove a word or two, but sometimes your first draft is more “stream of consciousness” and needs a little more fine-tuning. The mistake most people make is to assume their first draft is “good enough.” All the best writers revise. And then they usually revise again. It often takes a few revisions to make a piece of writing clear and concise. If it is effortless to read, it was probably written by someone who took the time to revise.

And just a warning you probably don’t need about reviewing your text messages before you send them. The autocorrect feature can cause a world of embarrassment. While looking for an example I came across a slew of hilarious texts gone wrong. Here’s one that won’t get me fired:

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

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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Don’t want to get Editor’s Corner anymore? Click here to unsubscribe.

Do you have a question or an idea for Editor’s Corner? Send your suggestions or feedback to Kara and <a href="mailto:DBurcher.

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Posted by: episystechpubs | March 17, 2020

Editor’s Corner: When vs Whenever

Dear Editrix,

I am experiencing a heightened awareness of the word whenever. I was editing a video for another department and the speaker used whenever throughout the video. I thought when would have been sufficient. Then I saw whenever used in Episys eDocs, so I thought there must be some subtle difference that I am not aware of. Can you explain?

Sincerely, K

Dear K,

Considering that people like to use longer, more complicated words when speaking and writing (to sound smarter, to fill space, etc.), my inclination is to agree with you: the speaker is probably using whenever, though when would suffice. But I didn’t see the video, so I’m not sure, and that doesn’t get to your underlying question about the difference between the two. Here is a brief lesson from GrammarBook.com, along with a little quiz for those of you that like testing your skills! (And as usual, I may have changed some of the examples a bit, because that’s how I am.)

Have you ever wondered how to use these words correctly? Have you ever thought, “Oh, either of these words will do”? Let’s have a closer look.

Rule 1 – If an event is unique or its date or time is known, use when.

Examples:

  • The costume ball will begin Saturday evening when the clock strikes eleven.
  • When I told you I wanted a vacation, I meant to a coronavirus-free beach resort, not a ticket to a political rally in a building shaped like a Petri dish!
  • He loved to play Marco Polo with his friends at the local pool when he was a youngster.

Rule 2 – Whenever is best used for repeated events or events whose date or time is uncertain. If you can substitute every time that or at whatever time that in your sentence, then whenever is preferred.

Examples:

  • Whenever I get the dogs leashed, it starts raining.
  • Whenever you decide to stop eating cupcakes and candy bars for lunch, I’ll help you come up with some healthier options.

Note: When can often substitute for whenever but generally not the other way around. The exception is using whenever as an intensive form of when in questions: Whenever will that dog stop barking?

Examples:

Correct:

  • When I get the dogs leashed, it starts raining. (When is acceptable but whenever is preferred for conveying the meaning every time that.)
  • When you decide to stop eating cupcakes and candy bars for lunch, I’ll help you come up with some healthier options. (When is acceptable but whenever is preferred for conveying the meaning at whatever time that.)
  • Whenever will that dog stop barking? (intensive form in a question)

Incorrect:
The costume ball will begin Saturday evening whenever the clock strikes eleven.

Pop Quiz (answers below the puppy)

  1. Do you know when/whenever we’re supposed to arrive at your mother’s house?
  2. Let me know when/whenever you’ll be arriving at the airport next week so I can pick you up.
  3. When/Whenever the baby cries, she clenches her little fists.
  4. I lived in a small town when/whenever I was seven years old.
  5. Do you recheck your math when/whenever you have difficulty balancing your checkbook?

Answers

  1. Do you know when we’re supposed to arrive at your mother’s house?
  2. Let me know when you’ll be arriving at the airport next week so I can pick you up.
  3. Whenever the baby cries, she clenches her little fists. (When could also be used but whenever better conveys the meaning every time that the baby cries.)
  4. I lived in a small town when I was seven years old.
  5. Do you recheck your math whenever you have difficulty balancing your checkbook? (When could also be used but whenever better conveys the meaning at the time that or every time that you have difficulty balancing your checkbook.)

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
exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message,
together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.

Posted by: episystechpubs | March 12, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Lands and Grooves

One of my guilty pleasures is watching crime shows. Law and Order of any flavor (SVU, Criminal Intent, etc.), Blue Bloods, Forensic Files, and several British crime shows. This year, Forensic Files II is here, and I am giddy as I watch each week!

As I was catching up on the Forensic Files of the past, one of the scientists was talking about the striations on the bullet caused by the “lands and grooves.” Although I’d heard this term so many times, for some reason this time it sounded a little odd to me. Lands? What the heck? So today, I am doing a nod to Forensic Files, and delving a bit into gun vocabulary.

Some of you may love guns, some of you may hate them. I’m not here to judge, I’m just here to talk about the language. Here are just a few of the terms I found (in alphabetical order):

Ballistics: The study of a projectile in motion. Often confused with Firearms Identification, there are three types of ballistics: Interior–within the firearm, Exterior–after the projectile leaves the barrel, and Terminal–impact on a target.

Bore: The inside of the barrel. "Smoothbore" weapons (typically shotguns) have no rifling. Most handguns and rifles have "rifling.”

Forensic: Okay, so I added this to the list. Here is the definition and the etymology.

  • Forensic (adj.) relating to or denoting the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime.
  • forensic (adj.) "pertaining to or suitable for courts of law," 1650s, with -ic + stem of Latin forensis "of a forum, place of assembly," related to forum "public place.” Later used especially in sense of "pertaining to legal trials," as in forensic medicine (1845).

Griess test: A chemical test for the detection of nitrites. It is used to develop patterns of gunpowder residues (nitrites) around bullet holes.

Lands and grooves: Rifling. Lands are the raised portions between the grooves inside the barrel after the spiral grooves are cut to produce the rifling.

Rifling: The spiral grooves cut or swaged inside a gun barrel that gives the bullet a spinning motion. The metal between the grooves is called a "land." The spiral can have either a left or right twist.

Striation: A set of parallel surface contours (scratches or scrapes) on an object caused by a combination of force and motion.

Have a safe day, without the need for any forensic specialists.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | March 10, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Cackle

Dear Editor

I learned a new word today: cachinnate. I had to look up how it was pronounced [ kak-uh-neyt ] which makes me wonder if this word is related to “cackle”…or is it more related to the [kak] of “cacophony”…do you know?

Sincerely,

Jane G.

Dear Jane,

Let’s first let folks know a little more about your train of thought—it’s a good one. So, the word you learned, cachinnate, means simply to laugh loudly. And the “kak” sound would make me think that you’re definitely on the right path with the word cackle, which means to make a “make a harsh, raucous sound when laughing.” (Today’s definitions and etymologies are brought to you by Google™.)

Then there is cacophony, which means a “harsh discordant mixture of sounds,” which, when compared to the “kak” sound in the other words and the relation to sound, makes it seem like an equally possible relative of cachinnate.

But interestingly, despite the similarities, we find that they are all three from different backgrounds. Here are the etymologies for you:

  • cachinnate

  • cacophony

  • cackle:

Cheers to much cachinnating in your future, with moderate cackling and very little cacophony to hurt your ears.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | March 5, 2020

Editor’s Corner: 30 Hilarious Words, Part 2

As promised, here are the final 15 of the “30 Hilarious Words for Everyday Problems.” Now, I’m going to go get some breakfast because I think my borborygmas is annoying workmates. Happy Thursday, everyone!

  1. Lalochezia: When you stub your foot or accidentally hit a finger while hammering a nail, your first impulse might be to curse. And that cursing bring a rush of relief. That emotional relief is called lalochezia.

EXAMPLE: “It hurt a little at first, but the lalochezia made it better.”

  1. Cockalorum: A tiny man who has grossly overestimated his importance or intelligence. It originated from the Dutch dialect kockeloeren, meaning "to crow like a rooster," because roosters apparently have a bloated sense of self-esteem.

EXAMPLE: "I just stop listening whenever that cockalorum starts bragging."

  1. Clinomania: A word with Greek origins—clino for bed and mania for obsession—it’s that uncontrollable feeling you get some mornings when you’d rather just stay in bed all day.

EXAMPLE: “I know I should go to the office. But it feels like a clinomania kind of day.”

  1. Smicker: When you see someone so attractive that you can’t take your eyes off of them, and you know that staring is creepy but you can’t help yourself, you’re smickering at them. This word has been around since at t least the 17th century, and possibly much earlier, and comes to us courtesy of Scotland.

EXAMPLE: “My girlfriend caught me smickering a girl, so now I’m in the doghouse.”

  1. Borborygmus: When your stomach is rumbling, either from lack of food or too much digestion. It’s derived from the Greek word borboryzein, which means “to rumble.”

EXAMPLE: “I guess somebody’s hungry. I can hear your gut borborygmus from here.”

  1. Frisson: Being terrified, but in a pleasurable way. When you’re at a scary movie and jump when a guy with an axe jumps does something horrible, or you’re on a rollercoaster and the hairs on your arm stand at attention as you slowly click-click-clicks up the track, you’re feeling the rush of frisson.

EXAMPLE: “I totally scared myself to death at Six Flags. I was feeling that frisson all day.”

  1. Nikhedonia: The rush of excitement when you realize your team is going to win. There’s still time left on the clock, but there’s no way they can blow it now.

EXAMPLE: “No way, man, it’s over. Your boys are done! The game is over! Oh my gosh, I’ve got such crazy nikhedonia right now!”

  1. Nipcheese: A cheap person. The guy who never picks up the bill or offers to pay for lunch this time. The word originates from 18th-century seafaring, given to a ship’s purser who keeps more for himself than he gives to the rest of the ship’s crew.

EXAMPLE: “We better split this three ways. Glenn is too much of a nipcheese to chip in.”

  1. Fudgel: It sure does look like you’re working at your computer, but you’re probably just playing solitaire on your computer.

EXAMPLE: “Of course he didn’t meet his deadline. All he does all day is fudgel.”

  1. Forswunke: That bone-tired feeling after a long day of chores or busy-work. Unless you’ve been fudgelling at the computer all day, in which case you’re a forswunke liar.

EXAMPLE: “I’m so tired, I can’t lift a finger. I’m forswunke!”

  1. Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia: The scientific term for an ice cream headache. What, did you think that temporary pain in your sphenopalatine ganglion wouldn’t have a medical name?

EXAMPLE: “Ow, ow, ow! I ate that tutti frutti way too fast and now I’ve got a case of sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia!!”

  1. Coverslut: Not at all what you think it means. This Middle English word from the 13th century comes from “cover” (to conceal) and “slut” (an untidy woman.) It’s the piece of clothing you wear to go outside when you don’t feel like changing out of your shabby or unclean clothes.

EXAMPLE: “I’d love to go to breakfast, but I’d rather stay in pajamas. I’ll just throw on this coverslut and nobody will notice.”

  1. Fard: An old English word for putting on makeup. Don’t say it too fast or they might think you’re accusing them of something else.

EXAMPLE: “No, no, I say you’re farding. Far-ding. As in putting on makeup. Why, what did you think I meant?”

  1. Quafftide: If it’s “beer-thirty,” then it’s officially quafftide time. It’s a goofy word for indicating that happy hour is upon us and the time for drinking to excess had arrived. First used in a book from 1582 to describe the Roman festival Bacchanalia.

EXAMPLE: “Sure, let’s get another round. It’s quafftide ”

  1. Sonntagsleerung: It’s Sunday and you really, really don’t want to go to work tomorrow. That heavy, sad feeling that all fun things will be ending soon is called sonntagsleerung, This word originated in Germany, which makes perfect sense. Who better to create a word for having a vague sense of dread about tomorrow?

EXAMPLE: “Ugh, is it Sunday already? No wonder I feel so much sonntagsleerung.”

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

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.

Did someone forward this email to you? Click here to subscribe.

Don’t want to get Editor’s Corner anymore? Click here to unsubscribe.

Do you have a question or an idea for Editor’s Corner? Send your suggestions or feedback to Kara and <a href="mailto:DBurcher.

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
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Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.

Posted by: episystechpubs | March 3, 2020

Editor’s Corner: 30 Hilarious Words for Everyday Problems

Good morning! I found this article called “30 Hilarious Words for Everyday Problems” on the Best Life website. I’m committed to memorizing some of these. I love this kind of thing!

I think I’ve covered a few of these words in previous posts, but they’re funny enough to repeat. I’ll give you 15 today and you can look forward to the remaining 15 on Thursday. I challenge you to use at least one of these in conversation over the next few days.

  1. Collywobbles: Feeling a nervous fluttering in your stomach, enough that you want to stop whatever you’re doing and run away.

EXAMPLE: “I almost asked her out. But then I got the collywobbles.”

  1. Shivviness: An old Yorkshire word for that weird clingy feeling when you’re trying to break in a new pair of underwear. A “shive” is a loose thread in some clothing that won’t stop rubbing you the wrong way.

EXAMPLE: “Sorry I can’t sit still, but these new boxers are giving me the shivvies.”

  1. Croochie-proochles: What happens to your body when you’ve been sitting in the same cramped, uncomfortable position for too long. It’s kind of amazing how Scottish slang from the 18th century can perfectly describe the feeling of taking a nonstop flight from New York to LA.

EXAMPLE: “I was in the backseat for that whole road trip, with my knees up to my chin, and I still have the croochie-proochles.”

  1. Flapdoodle: Just read something that’s painfully untrue? It’s probably flapdoodle. It’s like fake news, but fancier. Used since the mid-19th century, it’s the less abusive way of saying, “You are full of it!”

EXAMPLE: “I wouldn’t believe anything he tells you. All he does is read flapdoodle.”

  1. Horror vacui: If you’re the kind of person who decorates your home by covering every square inch of wall space with something—artwork, pictures of friends and family, a mirror—because it drives you crazy when there’s any empty space at all, you’re suffering from a condition called horror vacui.

EXAMPLE: “Maybe we don’t cover that wall with a thousand paintings. I’m just saying, your horror vacui is starting to drive me batty.”

  1. Crapulence: The bloated feeling you get after eating way too much or drinking to excess. It has its origins in the Greek word crapula, for a hangover caused by overindulgence.

EXAMPLE: “The last time I ate a whole plate of nachos by myself, I was feeling like crapulence for a week.”

  1. Ishkabibble: A Yiddish word that first appeared in the U.S. during the early 20th century. It translated roughly as “I should worry?” It’s not an actual question, but a flippant response. You’re not concerned, despite whatever warnings you’ve been given.

EXAMPLE: “Oh, he thinks I should get a lawyer, does he? Ishkabibble!”

  1. Yule Hole: Gorged a bit too heavily over the holidays? You may be experiencing yule hole. That’s when you’ve reached the last hole on your belt buckle. We have the Scots to thank for this lovely reminder to go easy on the carbs in the New Year.

EXAMPLE: “I need to hit the gym. I overdid it during Christmas. I hit my yule hole.”

  1. Acrasia: When you know you shouldn’t be doing something but you do it anyway, you’re being acrasia. Pronounced “uh-KRAY-zee-yuh”, as in “You crazy, yah!” From a 19th-century Greek word meaning lack of strength or willpower.

EXAMPLE: “You’re still smoking? You’re acrasia!”

  1. Gobemouche: A naive or gullible person who is easily fooled. It’s derived from the French word gober (to swallow) and mouche (fly). So basically, a gobemouche is “fly-swallower,” somebody who’ll accept just about anything.

EXAMPLE: “I have this friend on Facebook who’s always posting stories about Bigfoot. He believes in it too. What a gobemouche!”

  1. Humdudgeon: When you just can’t summon the energy or enthusiasm to get to work. It originated in the 18th century to describe an imagined illness. You’re not really sick, you just don’t feel like showing up.

EXAMPLE: “I can’t make it to our meeting today. I’ve got a bad case of humdudgeon.”

  1. Coddiwomple: An old English word for not having any freaking idea where you’re heading. If you’ve ever driven around on a weekend with no destination in mind, you’ve been out coddiwompling.

EXAMPLE: “I’m not in the mood to go anywhere. Let’s just coddiwomple for a while.”

  1. Gwenders: It sounds like it has something to do with a girl named Gwen, but this is actually a term for the tingling sensation, or “pins and needles,” you can feel in your hands when they’re numb from too much cold.

EXAMPLE: “I need to buy some gloves. I get the gwenders every time I try to throw a snowball with bare hands.”

  1. Ninnyhammer: A less than intelligent person. Somebody prone to saying idiotic things. You’re probably Facebook friends with a few of ninnyhammers.

EXAMPLE: “As politicians go, he’s the biggest ninnyhammer of them all. And that’s saying something!”

  1. Sialoquent: Originating from the ancient Greek words sialon (“saliva”) and loqui (“speak”), it’s when somebody can’t speak without letting some spit fly.

EXAMPLE: “Hey, hey, hey, say it don’t spray it. You’re being sialoquent!”

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

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 27, 2020

Editor’s Corner: 14 English Punctuation Marks

Have you ever wondered how many English punctuation marks there are? I never did until I read a recent article from Daily Writing Tips. It turns out there are 14. Seriously! That seemed like a lot until I saw the list, which doesn’t include any surprises. It would have been kind of cool to find out there is one we never knew about.

I’m going to list them all for you and provide a little additional information, where necessary. Please indulge me—this is the kind of thing that delights me.

Punctuation Marks That End Sentences

  1. Period
    This lovely little undervalued piece of punctuation tells you that a sentence has come to an end. At the risk of starting WWIII, I’ll remind everyone that we only use one space after a period. I know that drives some of you crazy, but that’s the standard (in fact, it’s been the accepted standard since we moved from typewriters to word processors).
  2. Question Mark
    Use a question mark when you are asking a direct question: “Do you think he’ll bring donuts to work this Friday?” You do not need a question mark if you are merely wondering about something: “I wonder if he’ll bring donuts to work this Friday.”
  3. Exclamation Point
    We all love an exclamation point because it adds emphasis and enthusiasm to our writing. My loving suggestion here is to only use one at a time in professional writing. When you text your friends and family, use as many as your heart desires!

Punctuation Marks Within Sentences

  1. Comma
    Commas are what we scientifically call a punctuational bugaboo. Like many of you, these critters caused me the most confusion throughout my education. There are a number of comma rules to learn and quite a bit of optional comma usage—just to mess you up. Click here if you’re interested in delving a little deeper into the mighty comma and all its rules.
  2. Colon
    Colons can be used for two purposes: to introduce an example or series of items or to separate two independent clauses. I cheekily snuck a colon into the previous sentence to show how to use a colon to introduce an example. Look for more of that—I’ll be cheekily sneaking in examples in most of these explanations.
  3. Semicolon
    My mom told me that I should love people and like things, but she didn’t understand my relationship with the semicolon. I love semicolons; they let me (and you) join two independent clauses. Sure, you could use a period and create two separate sentences, but a semicolon is a uniter. Semicolons are the Joan of Arc of the punctuation world.
  4. Dash
    Dashes are not to be confused with hyphens, which are shorter, and which show up later in my list. There are two types of dashes, the en dash (–) and the em dash (—). The en dash is usually used to indicate a range of numbers. The em dash has more uses—it can be used in place of commas, parentheses, or even colons.
  5. Quotation Marks
    We use quotation marks for dialog, to set off a direct quotation, or to emphasize a word or phrase. In American English, we use double quotation marks (“) most of the time—but we use single quotation marks (‘) when we have a quote within a quote.
  6. Ellipsis
    Oh, what a fun piece of punctuation the ellipsis mark is! These three dots (…) indicate a pause or omitted information. There are two important usage rules for the ellipsis marks: use only three dots and…do not add space before or after the ellipsis mark.
  7. Parentheses
    We use parentheses for asides and additional information (they are very useful in long, complex sentences).
  8. Brackets
    Brackets are used to indicate that you’ve added something into a quote. Here’s an example: “The proper study of [hu]mankind is books.” -Aldous Huxley
    They are also used in programming code.
  9. Braces
    Braces are primarily used in mathematical expressions and computer programming, where they keep elements together, so we do sometimes use them in our documentation.

Punctuation Marks Within Words

  1. Apostrophe
    We editors have written about the poor misunderstood apostrophe on several occasions. They are much simpler than you think. There are only two purposes for apostrophes: to indication possession (e.g., It is Donna’s world) or to indicate missing letters or numbers (e.g., Dude needs to say goodbye to the ’90s).
  2. Hyphen
    I told you the much-loved hyphen was coming! It is last but not least in this list. We use hyphens to join two (or more) words into a compound word. My plea to you is to avoid using hyphens when you really should use dashes. See #7 above for electrifying information about dashes and how to use them.

And with that, I bid you adieu. Enjoy a properly-punctuated day today.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

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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Don’t want to get Editor’s Corner anymore? Click here to unsubscribe.

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together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
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immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.

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