Wednesday, October 18, 2017

This Week: Book Sale! Plus, More on the Language of Politics on the Podcast + oppress/repress

oppress/repress
Dictators commonly oppress their citizens and repress dissent, but these words don’t mean exactly the same thing. “Repress” just means “keep under control.” Sometimes repression is a good thing: “During the job interview, repress the temptation to tell Mr. Brown that he has toilet paper stuck to his shoe.” Oppression is always bad, and implies serious persecution.



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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

This Week: More on the Language of Politics on the Podcast + Democrat Party/Democratic Party

Democrat Party/Democratic Party
Certain Republican members of Congress have played the childish game in recent years of referring to the opposition as the “Democrat Party,” hoping to imply that Democrats are not truly democratic. They succeed only in making themselves sound ignorant, and so will you if you imitate them. The name is “Democratic Party.” After all, we don’t say “Republic Party.”



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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

This Week: More on the Language of Politics on the Podcast + grow

grow
We used to grow our hair long or grow tomatoes in the yard, but now we are being urged to “grow the economy” or “grow your investments.” Business and government speakers have extended this usage widely, but it irritates traditionalists. Use “build,” “increase,” “expand,” “develop,” or “cause to grow” instead in formal writing.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

This Week: Finishing Up on the Language of Health Care on the Podcast + sick/sic

sick/sic
The command given to a dog, “sic ’em,” derives from the word “seek.” The 1992 punk rock album titled Sick ’Em has helped popularize the common misspelling of this phrase. Unless you want to tell how you incited your pit bull to vomit on someone’s shoes, don’t write “sick ’em” or “sick the dog.”

The standard spelling of the “-ing” form of the word is “siccing.”

In a different context, the Latin word sic (“thus”) inserted into a quotation is an editorial comment calling attention to a misspelling or other error in the original which you do not want to be blamed for but are accurately reproducing: “She acted like a real pre-Madonna [sic].” When commenting on someone else’s faulty writing, you really want to avoid misspelling this word as sick.

Although it’s occasionally useful in preventing misunderstanding, sic is usually just a way of being snotty about someone else’s mistake, largely replaced now by “lol.” Sometimes it’s appropriate to correct the mistakes in writing you’re quoting; and when errors abound, you needn’t mark each one with a sic—your readers will notice.


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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

This Week: More Language of Health Care on the Podcast + able to

able to
People are able to do things, but things are not able to be done: you should not say, “the budget shortfall was able to be solved by selling brownies.


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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

This Week: More Language of Health Care on the Podcast + realize/realise

realize/realise
“Realize” is the dominant spelling in the US, and “realise” in the UK. Spelling checkers often try to enforce these patterns by labeling the other spelling as an error, but it is good to know that most dictionaries list these as acceptable spelling variants.

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