Topic:Writing

As keynote speaker at the 2015 American Copy Editors Society meeting, lexicographer Ben Zimmer showed off the resources in the Vocabulary.com Dictionary as part of a talk on "Nitpickery, Debunkage, and the Joys of Getting It Right." Not surprisingly, ACES attendees live-tweeting the address were more likely to take note of Zimmer's singing, rapping, and discussion of language anachronisms in "Mad Men" and "Downton Abbey." Continue reading...
TOPICS: Fun, Language, Writing
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Language allows us to communicate the ideas in our heads with other people. It is a main way we connect with the world around us. Because of that, language becomes very personal to each user. We form affinities for individual words because of what they mean to us. Continue reading...
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On the surface, and/or seems like a helpful but mostly harmless little phrase — a little ugly, perhaps, but still useful for those times when you want to be extra clear about what all the options are. Most people associate the phrase with legal writing, but it turns out that a surprising number of lawyers and judges hate it, claiming that it's actually unclear and thus impossible to interpret. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Usage, Words, Writing
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Karen Joy Fowler's PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (now shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize as well) is narrated by a character with an outsize vocabulary. Here, Fowler speaks with Vocabulary.com about the process of finding the words to create that character and the fun of breaking the rule, "Never use a 100-dollar word when a one-dollar word will do." Continue reading...
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I asked fellow editors recently what usage rule they wanted to know more about or what rule they saw broken regularly. I received lots of answers (thanks, all!), including this one: "Why is worth preceded with a possessive noun or pronoun, as in two days' worth?" Continue reading...
TOPICS: Grammar, Usage, Writing
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"A breath of fresh air." "Few and far between." "At the end of the day." These are just a few of the clichés examined by Orin Hargraves, an experienced lexicographer and one of our regular contributors, in his new book It's Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Cliches. In this excerpt, Hargraves explains how to "free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés." Continue reading...
TOPICS: Books, Language, Writing
Click here to read more articles from Dog Eared.
One of the students in my Fiction Writing Workshop told a classmate to take a red pen and cross out the multitude of adverbs he had strewn throughout his story. The rest of the class nodded their heads in agreement. But just before I could move us on to the next item on the agenda, the author asked the young woman who'd spoken up, "But why? Why can't I use adverbs?" Continue reading...
TOPICS: Teaching, Usage, Writing
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