09. Bits and Pieces

Hard to Believe:  Munchausen by internet (??) Faking illness online in order to get emotional support.

Apparently there are people who go on for years devoting every spare minute describing their woes to people who devote every spare minute supporting and consoling. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/26/faking-illness-online-munchausen Sheesh.

Added to the “Blogs I Like Page” is Word Trippers, Barbara McNichols’ weekly email about errors in word usage derived from their similarity of look or sound.  Do you know the difference between accept and except, lay and lie, further and farther, convince and persuade, notorious and famous? How about the one that makes me want to scrape my fingernails on a blackboard—using less when fewer is correct?

Word Trippers has also been published as a book.   Barbara is a writer an editor in Tucson.  I don’t see a link to subscribe to her weekly email but I’ll bet a note to editor@barbaramcnichol.com , will get it done.

You only get to drop an F-bomb once.  It is thermonuclear when first used.  Thereafter it is mere mouth sewage.

Spell check has been a blessing and a curse.  It has saved us from embarrassment of our most deeply rooted spelling errors.  I was 50 years old before I knew accommodate had a second ‘m’.  Spell check has made us lazy about checking our own spelling and about checking our spell checker which allows our typos if they can be found in a dictionary.  My spell check doesn’t notice I’ve left an apostrophe out of “won’t” or if I want to send a fox, nor would it blink when asking a sailor for his spar change. What happens when your prostrate drops an “r”?

Before the Internet and word-process software, we learned a lot of words by ear and did not always get them right when we had to write them.  My interest was piqued in this notion when I first read of someone’s interest being peaked (which I suppose is possible) and again when it was peeked (which is a stretch but also possible).

My recent favorite was spotted in a writer’s forum: the Google search engine logarithm.

Ain’t fooling with words fun?

BTW, Fooling With Words is the title of one of my most dog-eared books.  Written by Bill Moyers and sub-titled, a Celebration of Poets and Their Craft.  The book is a series of interviews with presenters at the Dodge Poetry Festival.

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16 Responses to 09. Bits and Pieces

  1. What happens when your prostrate drops an “r”?

    possible depression for any man depending on what the doctor says after the “r” is dropped.

  2. MaryAnne says:

    thanx for clarifying the F bomb usage, it makes perfect sense to me

  3. Chip says:

    Hmmm… Munchausen by Internet? Perhaps better named “not getting enough Attention Deficit Disorder?”

    After travels in Asia and Africa where they do not lack for real illness it seems sad we have come up with ones they could never afford to have.

    • karen wittgraf says:

      I am laughing out loud at the “Not Getting Enough Attention Disorder”. I had a call from a co-worker (that I guess I knew 45 years ago). Rather than a “catch up” conversation, I found myself listening to every surgery and ailment she has experienced in her life time. I am so thankful she has no internet.

  4. Mary Myers says:

    Hi Al, I’ve really enjoyed your blogs and keeping up with your adventures and ruminations. You don’t mention in the above piece my nemesis – affect and effect. If someone can explain the appropriate usage for both words in a way I can keep them straight, I will be eternally grateful. Over the years I have tried a zillion times to sort out those two words … but alas.

    Must share with you a quotation a high school gym teacher wrote on the locker room bulletin board way back in 1961. “Profanity is a weak mind trying to express itself forcefully.” I’ve always loved that bit of wisdom and good taste.

    Hugs. Mary

  5. Colleen Rae says:

    Speaking of how the computer spell check misses so much – in grammer as well as punctuation. In my recent manuscript I thought I had caught most everything in 4 drafts, but when I sent it to a friend who used to be an editor, she found 127 errors in grammer and punctuation, as well as typos. I don’t pretend to be an expert on language – I do contend I can write a mean sentence or a fascinating novel…

  6. karen wittgraf says:

    Thanks, Al. I will be more watchful. How about oxcymoron? That one is a challenge for me. Would “gourmet hotdish” be appropriate?

  7. Lew says:

    As to prostrated – depends on which ‘r’. The doctor might have no comment, but the king surely would.

    • allevenson says:

      Good catch, Lew. The way I remember to spell ‘judgment’ is from the one-liner. “I tried to spell judgment without an “e” and it came out judgmnt. I haven’t misspelled it since.

  8. Gene says:

    Al,
    I’ve been out of the loop for a awhile so I am catching to say Hi. I love the way you write. Words, words, what to they mean? George Carlin had a field day with them. Keep them coming.
    Gene

  9. karen says:

    Do you all know the difference between whether, weather and wether? I don’t know how many people have told me there are only 2 words pronounced that way… It makes me a bit sheepish to speak of it. For most of us the only time we’ll need to know the last one is when we are talking about a bell wether (though I have seen that spelled incorrectly in more than one place).

  10. allevenson says:

    I forgot about another set of near twins: complimentary and complementary.

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