Use of “reigning” below reminded me of classroom discussion this week about the vexing silent “g.” One reason, I suspect, that rein and reign give people trouble is that “reining [something] in” is one of those cases of a phrase that has become so divorced from its origins that it is a borderline eggcorn.

I think that from now on I’ll just hand this piece out at the start of my editing classes:

I must also caution you from the outset that this course is appallingly, unrelievedly dull. A student from a previous term complained in the course evaluation that “he just did the same thing over and over day after day.” Exactly. So will you. Editing is done word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and we will go over texts in class, word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, and paragraph by paragraph. No one will hear you scream.

I’m going to turn my back for a minute so that anyone who wants to bolt can escape.

John E. McIntyre in The Baltimore Sun


Read more:

Seen in the wild: avuncular

(From NY Mag)

Screen shot 2013-11-27 at 8.15.00 AM

One from my students’ vocab words, successfully spelled and defined during yesterday’s annual pre-Thanksgiving-break team spelling bee. A heated competition, during which students rose to the challenge of:

  • remembering and spelling my least-favorite word (“decaffeinated”)
  • remembering, spelling, and defining my favorite vocab word to pronounce (“crepuscular”)
  • defining (and spelling) delightful words like “perfidy,” “schadenfreude,” and “legerdemain”

Coming down to the wire, team Misused Apostrophe’s edged out Team Ellipses… by two points in the Open Round by spelling and defining lalochezia: the use of vulgar or foul language to reduce pain or stress.

So now I’m “fussy and old-fashioned”? Darn it, I like hyphens, (ironic there was a hyphen in “old-fashioned” there) and cannot condone this willy-nilly abandonment of same. And here’s one reason why: “Skipping hyphens has become a popular branding trend…”

New York Times Updates Stylebook–and Puts Some Hyphens to Rest


… and more on e-mail and such-all

E-mail. Email. The Internet. The internet. World Wide Web. The Web. The web. So today I was proofing a document, and it included the term Wi Fi, and I thought that capitalizing the W and the F was counter to the general trend towards lower-casing and closing up these tech terms. So I went looking or an explanation, and this is what I found:

(1) Wi-Fi (note the hyphen) isn’t short for anything. Not “wireless fidelity” and not nothing else neither, because,

(2) It’s a made-up proprietary name created by a branding company.

Via BoingBoing: “Phil Belanger, a founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance who presided over the selection of the name ‘Wi-Fi’ writes:”

We (the founding members of the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, (now called the Wi-Fi Alliance) hired Interbrand to come up with the name and logo that we could use for our interoperability seal and marketing efforts. We needed something that was a little catchier than “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence”.