Apr 12

It’s all so clear now…

How To Write Good
by Frank L. Visco

My several years in the word game have learnt me several rules:

  1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  4. Employ the vernacular.
  5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  8. Contractions aren’t necessary.
  9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  10. One should never generalize.
  11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  12. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  13. Don’t be redundant; don’t more use words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  14. Profanity sucks.
  15. Be more or less specific.
  16. Understatement is always best.
  17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  20. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  21. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  22. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  23. Who needs rhetorical questions?

Nov 11

I shall… or I will?

In concert with my post about book translators, I spotted this article about the differences between British English (BE) and American English (AE).

The differences between BE and AE are certainly apparent when hearing the two; the British accent sounds much more refined and proper, while, in comparison, Americans sound wild and wooley.

The differences are also seen in spelling and grammar: Center vs centre, neighbor vs neighbour, practice vs practise… “They don’t need to come to school today.” vs “They needn’t come to school today.”

Interestingly enough, my spell-checker put a red underline under each of the British spellings.

Trans-Atlantic Negotiations in the English Language Classroom
November 3, 2011
By Fitch O’Connell

A great number of British people think that the way that the language is spoken on the British Isles is “proper” English and is the source language, the Holy Grail of English. In actual fact that is not true, and the way that the language has evolved in America leaves American English (AE) with correlates to the earlier form of English that existed when the Pilgrims hopped onto the Mayflower, many of which are not heard these days on Albion’s crowded shores.

Most Britons will be shocked to find, for example, that fall is what they commonly said in 17th century England, not autumn, and the modern American use of mad for angry has a similar history. More shockingly, that ultimate Americanism “I guess” can be traced back to Middle English!
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