Your 10-minute writing brush-up                       SEPTEMBER  2017

About UpWORDly Mobile EXPRESS

EXPRESS pops up in email inboxes once a month to prod busy people to sharpen their language skills. It's produced by
a sweeping but unpretentious grammar, usage and plain language resource. Its creator is George Pearson, a writer and editor based in Stratford, Ontario.






Pun time  

Where did Noah keep his bees?
 
In his ark hive.
   
Media muffs 
Justin Trudeau,  in a story in the Toronto Star about discrimination toward immigrants, is quoted as saying what's happening in Canada and throughout the world is "nothing knew."
 
Style note
(from Canadian Press)
whisky (Scottish or Canadian) 
whiskey (Irish or American)  
 
The couple was or the couple were?

Matching a collective noun with an appropriate verb can take a little thought.
 
Collective nouns include board, committee, family, couple, faculty, jury and more. They represent groups, usually people, that may be acting as a single entity (the committee is required to act) or as individuals (the committee are at odds regarding the next move).
 
A story in the Toronto Star reported that the marriage of a particular couple "was on the rocks and the couple was embroiled in acrimonious divorce proceedings . . .."
 
Far from acting as a single entity in this regard, the couple were acting (scrapping, actually, with each other) as individuals. So I'd say the couple were embroiled, wouldn't you? If the couple had been disputing a property assessment, it would be doing so as an entity (the couple was disputing the assessment).
 
For nouns such as audience, board, committee, faculty and jury, one can add the word members to indicate the plural and the problem is solved. Couple (or pair or duo) is a bit different. So be careful.
 
More from the Maddren File, from Judy Maddren's days as Broadcast Language Adviser for CBC National Radio News:
 
-- To "beg the question" means to assume the truth of the thing that is to be proven. An example might be "Capital punishment is necessary because without it murders would increase."
   Most speakers use the phrase intending it to mean that a question begs to be asked. This is wrong.
   Use instead "prompts the question" or "raises the question."
 
-- People are not confined to wheelchairs. They are simply in them, use them and/or need them. (Point raised by CBC correspondent Michael McAuliffe and passed along to staff by Judy.)
 
-- A reminder about the owner of a restaurant. The word is restaurateur. One dines in a restaurant, but there is no n in restaurateur. It is pronounced RES-tah-raw-TOOR.
 
Thanks again, Judy.

Please write to me if you have comments about anything covered in this edition of UpWORDly Mobile EXPRESS or comments about language use you'd like to share with EXPRESS readers.
 
Sincerely,
George Pearson