Blog Du Jour

Nancy Says...

Nancy Friedman, the naming and branding expert who contributed our "Candlepower" feature this week says, "here's a clutch of useful and entertaining sites about readin' and writin'. 'Rithmetic I leave to others more qualified." She writes:

Writerisms and Other Sins: A Writer's Shortcut to Stronger Writing was first posted in 1995, but it's as relevant as ever. Author C.J. Cherryh defines "writerisms" as "overused and misused language"--and the examples are fresh and memorable. Includes the definitive guide to never mistaking "who" for "whom."

Give What Should I Read Next the title of a book you enjoyed and it will suggest others you should try. Differs from Amazon Recommendations because it's based on books you've actually read and liked, not books you may have bought for others--or bought and returned.

Separated by a Common Language (based on the famous quote--authorship in dispute--about the U.S. and the U.K.) offers "observations on British and American English by an American linguist"--who calls herself Lynneguist--"in the UK." Each post takes on a single word or phrase: What do the Brits mean by "bank holiday"? What are digestive biscuits, fairy cakes, and baps? Thoughtful, thorough, and consistently diverting.

Roy Peter Clark's Fifty Writing Tools: Quick List, from the journalism site Poynter.org, is a masterpiece of wisdom and concision. Although aimed at reporters, Clark's advice is invaluable for anyone who writes to be understood. One my favorites: "Turn procrastination into rehearsal."

The Phrase Finder, also from Britain, defines more than 1,200 English sayings, phrases, and idioms, many of which are current on this side of the Atlantic, too. See the Nonsense Nine for discussions of popular fallacies, including the ever-popular "whole nine yards" (which I attempted to lay to rest).

It's not too soon to be thinking about the annual banished-words contest. Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, has sponsored the contest since 1976; nominations are accepted all year for overused words and phrases worthy of banishment. Samples from the 2006 list: "community of learners" ("not to be confused with 'school,'" noted its nominator); FEMA ("if they don't do anything, we don't need their acronym"); "97% fat free" ("adventures in delusion--it's still 3% fat"); and "talking points" ("topics which will please those you want to impress"). Thanks to Tim Hicks for the link.


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