Archive | language

Directionally Accurate But Not Precise

Sometimes I’m directionally accurate but not precise. My lack of precision isn’t an attempt to mislead or misinform. After all, my motto is words matter so I usually choose my words carefully. Instead, this imprecision stems from the desire to tell a compelling story or when my memory is cloudy. Here’s a recent real-life example:…

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Lockdown Lingo

The shelter-in-place / stay-at-home orders have triggered new words and phrases in our collective vocabularies. Some of them existed before but have become more commonly used: coronavirus, pandemic, and virtual happy hour. But others are newly created to describe our COVID-19 mandated world. They are descriptive portmanteaus which aren’t likely to stay in our vocabularies…

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Words Matter, Made-Up Edition

As my mantra is “Words Matter,” I’m fascinated by the etymology of words, how different cultures use language, and when people accidentally/purposefully misuse English. I’ve covered spelling bees, written about mondegreens and eggcorns, and advocated for the banishing of overused words. So, it’s probably not surprising that a friend caught my attention when he recently…

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The Power of Suggestion

“Objection, your Honor, the Defense is leading the witness.” If you’ve watched TV courtroom dramas, you’ve heard this common expression. One lawyer is complaining that the other lawyer is asking leading questions; the questions suggest the answers the witness should give. As such, it unfairly taints the witness’ testimony. As often happens, a recent courtroom…

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What’s An Eggcorn?

Even though my mantra is “Words Matter”, I’m constantly learning new things about language. Last week I received an email which contained the phrase “for all intensive purposes”. Of course, the correct phrase is the similar-sounding “for all intents and purposes.” The mistake struck me as both amusing and intriguing, so I tweeted that it…

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