Saturday, December 16, 2017

The art of boustrophedon

If you've never heard of boustrophedon, I'm about to show you what it is. Here it comes:
In case you can't read that, it says:
Boustrophedon is the practice of writing forward on one line and backwards on the next. I should have practiced some more, as it's been quite some time, but I find it so fascinating I had to share.

According to, boustrophedon has been used for thousands of years, first by the Greeks. It made it easier to track from one line to the next without losing your place.

In general, lefties (and as a lefty myself I can corroborate this) have a slightly easier time reading and writing right to left than righties do, so I find boustrophedon an enjoyable and entertaining pastime. Because I couldn't find a way to type this way on the computer, I used my drawing app on my phone to make the above sample.

Give boustrophedon a try, maybe post a picture of your attempt in the comments.

Not only is boustrophedon a fun word, it's a really cool historical practice.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Nevertheless, never never the less

I must bring to your attention another pet peeve of mine. There are a number of words in the English language that are compound words, but are apparently quite confusing for most people to write. They are not sure if they should be written as one word or separate words.

Nevertheless is one of these. Yes, you read that correctly. It's one word. Along with it are synonyms (or at least close in meaning) nonetheless and notwithstanding. I suppose I can see how people could be confused by these words, especially if they were never specifically taught. Perhaps that means teachers need to take the time to introduce students to these wonderful words. 

Most of us are likely resistant to running words together like this. As we're taught from kindergarten - 'Make sure you leave a finger space!'

Moreover, hereafter and heretofore are other examples of compound words that confound people. Wherewithal is another odd one; and I often see insofar and inasmuch written with separate words.

I find it interesting that these words likely ended up written like this due to being run together when spoken until people started writing them as one word. But now many are trying to separate them; while at the same time, other words like 'a lot' and 'all right' are being squished together.

I must confess, I'm resistant to using alot and alright. I don't think they look right. I don't think they should be used in good writing. I'll probably be overruled on this at some point, but I'll probably stick to my archaic spellings.

To stick with the theme of compound words, I offer this wondrous word: aforementioned.

Please remember to write the aforementioned words as one word.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Can you tell apart apart and a part?

Greetings Readers!

It has been far too long since I last posted. I've finally been driven to write this by several comments I've seen on Facebook, all containing the same error.

When you want to be a part of something, you certainly don't want to be apart; but this is a mistake I've seen people making frequently.

They type: 'I want to be apart of that group,' when they mean that they want to be included. They've essentially said exactly the opposite. 'Apart' is used to say that you are 'pulling something apart,' or 'keeping things apart.'

It's just a space, people! Doesn't take up much space and important for clarity.

On a new subject, I'd like to start highlighting wondrous words, words that aren't used much anymore or may have obscure meanings but are fun to say or read.

Today's wondrous word: forewent

I forewent my turn at the game. 

It's the past tense of forego, which means to forfeit or not do something.

So, forego the misuse of apart and a part and make your grammar nerd friends happy!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Art of Capitalization

I enjoy reading. Not just enjoy - LOVE! It's probably my favorite pastime. I regularly read multiple books at once, usually on my Kindle app. Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of poor grammar, spelling and punctuation in many of the self-published books available. If you want to publish a book - great! Get your work edited (preferably by someone who knows what they're doing) before publishing, though!

In kindergarten, most students start the year writing their names, and most other words, with all capital letters or a mix of capital and lowercase. As the year progresses, they learn that their names should be capitalized, but only the first letter. They learn that 'I' is always capitalized; and they learn to not have random capitals in the middle of their words and sentences.

In self-published books, I see many poorly worded sentences and misused words, but one book I read took me back to kindergarten, where the author should have learned to correctly use capitals. She had problems with word usage too, but I just want to address the capitalization right now. It bothered me enough that I actually wrote a review on Amazon. And promptly got yelled at by another reviewer for only giving 3 stars because of grammar. That wasn't the only reason I gave it 3 stars, but poor grammar detracts from my enjoyment of a book. It brings me to a screeching halt so I can try to figure out what the heck the author is trying to say.

The capitalization errors were actually minor compared to some of the other mistakes, but it was interesting because I'd never seen anyone make this particular error so dramatically. You're probably saying, 'Get to the point, already!'

Here it is: The words mom, dad, mother and father are ONLY capitalized when used as proper nouns, as in the place of a name or in direct address, and NOT when used as common nouns.

For example:
     Yes - I told Mom that she should buy the dress.
     No - I told my Mom that she should buy the dress.

     Yes - I want Dad to come with me.
     No - I want my Dad to come with me.

This author capitalized mother and father EVERY TIME she used them. and that was a lot of times. The book was about a family so 'my Mother' and 'my Father' were on nearly every page! Halfway through the book I was ready to scream, but I did like the story enough to finish the book and even read the next couple in the series. The author did fix some of her mistakes in the following books.

It's a fairly straightforward rule. If you can replace mom, dad, mother or father with a name, capitalize it. I return to my previous example. If I replace mom with Kate (my mom's name), does it make sense?

     I told Kate that she should buy the dress.
     I told my Kate that she should buy the dress.

The first one makes sense but the second doesn't.

That is all.

pLease capItaliZe Your senTenCes CorrEctlY!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Definitely Defiant

I am definitely irritated by the frequent replacement of definitely with defiantly. As far as I can tell, this is simply a matter of people not paying attention when they're typing. I would hope that people know the difference, though that may be asking too much. It's one of those errors that is easy to make if you don't pay attention to what you're writing or typing.

Another common error in both speaking and writing is the use of the incorrect past participle form of certain verbs, those used with have. There are many verbs that have unusual forms for the past participle. For example: have sung, have swung, have come, have begun, have done, have drunk, have eaten, have gone, have swum, and many more.*
These are verbs that just have to be memorized because there is not necessarily a logical or consistent means of figuring out what the past and past participles should be. Many people, however, just use the regular past form with have, rather than the correct past participle. They say: I have sang a song; I have swang a bat; I have came to school; I have began a book; I have did this; I have drank pop; I have ate pizza; I have went to the store; I have swam in the pool.

Actually with swang and swung, more commonly it's actually the past pariciple used in place of the past tense: I swung the bat.

These are further confused by those that don't follow the pattern. It is drink, drank, drunk; but not think, thank, thunk. Sing, sang, sung; but not bring, brang, brung. That one IS frequently used by people trying to genralize the rule, but failing miserably.

English is a difficult language and it is distressing that more and more Americans don't even know how to speak or write it correctly. Or they don't care, which is almost as bad.