Your 10-minute writing brush-up                      JANUARY  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.

E-town police fatally shoot man with knife

Typhoon rips though cemetery; hundreds dead

Man kills self before shooting wife and daughter

Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers  

From the press
 and social media

EXPRESS subscriber Susan Bloch-Nevitte passed along this gem from the Toronto Star:
The 41st president [George H.W. Bush], 92, was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Saturday after experiencing repository problems.

From Knowledge@ Wharton website:
"The challenge is, how will that effect your interaction with the customer?" asks Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger.

Did you speak from notes on the podium?
If you did, either you were on your knees or you have powerful eyesight. Read on.

Word meanings evolve. For example, fantastic for centuries meant existing only in the imagination. Now that definition is #6 under fantastic in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary; #1 is excellent, extraordinary. ( Fantastic is so often used today that it doesn't have much meaning at all, wouldn't you say? Sort of like awesome !)

Also in the COD, the #3 definition of podium is lectern. But a podium is not the same as a lectern. A podium is a raised platform at the front of a hall or stage. It's also a raised platform on which the conductor of an orchestra, choir or other musical group stands to direct a performance. A lectern is a stand for holding a book (as in church or a library) or notes for a speaker. A rostrum is a platform or pulpit for public speaking.

The way we use, and misuse, words can alter their perceived definitions, Dictionaries, such as the COD, feel duty bound to record how a word is used in popular parlance -- and that's okay. But the careful writer will still respect the shadings that distinguish one word from another.

Often misused in place of unaffected or unfazed (the COD's definition #2), nonplussed actually means so surprised and confused that one is unsure how to respond.

A fortuitous occurrence comes about by chance. Fortuitous does not mean fortunate.
E.g. and i.e. are not the same. E.g. (from Latin exempli gratia) means for example: The orchestra director called for extra sessions for the reeds, e.g., clarinets, saxophones, oboes and bassoons. I.e.(from Latin id est) means that is to say or in other words: You will have to consult with the head of the household, i.e., my mother.
Et al. means and othersEt is Latin for and, and al. is an abbreviation for alii/aliae/alia (gender distinctions). So there's no period after et, which is not an abbreviation, but there is a period after al., which is an abbreviation.
Infer means to read something into what someone else has said, to read between the lines. Imply means to indicate the existence of something by suggestion rather than the actual words used. In other words, imply relates to what the speaker may intend, and infer relates to what the listener claims is the real message.
Is it correct to say "I feel badly about leaving early, but I wasn't feeling well"? No, it's not. Badly is an adverb; bad is an adjective. Here are some examples of correct usage for each:
►I performed badly in yesterday's math test. Badly describes the verb performed; it tells how I performed.
►Marcia tried to repair the badly damaged piano bench. Badly modifies the adjective damaged (which describes the noun bench).
►Marcel felt bad about the error he had made on the billing. Bad is an adjective describing Marcel. Felt (in this instance, but not always) is a linking verb, linking the subject Marcel with the subject complement bad, which describes (modifies) it.

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.
George Pearson