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Category: write better English

Shocking stats make youth vulnerable to targeted advertising

an internet minute

Following the much-publicised alleged breach of Facebook user privacy, and recent reports of social media absorption by the youth it is no surprise that parents worry about the time their children spend online.

An article in The Guardian, May 2017, reported “Facebook showed advertisers how it has the capacity to identify when teenagers feel ‘insecure’, ‘worthless’ and ‘need a confidence boost’, according to a leaked document based on research quietly conducted by the social network.”

Top 10 tips to get user interaction

Remember to tag

As the world obsesses about millennials, there is a constant flurry among marketers to get their attention.

We know that they are all mobile savvy, and we know that they read – a few words at least!. If the message is not quick and snappy, you’ll lose them in the blink of an eye.

Basically, it’s about great content and here are some tips to keep your readers diving in for more.

The importance of grey marketing

grey matter

It’s not black or white, it’s grey.

You may think that marketing is black or white, but there is a whole grey area that you may not be considering. In traditional spaces black and white could be print and electronic media, or information that you experience with relative ease.

Three key notes to persuasive copy

Slapping down anything that comes to mind may work for the Earnest Hemingways of the world, but its unlikely to produce persuasive copy for your website.

pexels-photo-895449.jpegEven Hemingway was not one to settle for the first draft. Very few writers do. So why would you put text on the most public forum – your website – that has not been properly crafted?

Flout or flaunt? Word confusion

One of the most common mistakes I found as a sub-editor was around the confusion of the use of the words flaunt and flout. The result was often hilarious.

It seems it is an age-old problem common to the news reporting discipline and these partners in language crime have an interesting history. You may want to say the wanton woman flouted her breasts as she walked along the busy street.

New author launches poetry anthology at Love Books, Melville

Fans filled up the spaces of the buzzing bookshop last night at the launch of Happy Birthday Raashi, a poetry anthology by Raashida Khan, the author’s first published work.

Khan’s journey as a writer for the past 20 years has been a start-stop affair. She first tried her craft in short stories in the back office

Green Eggs and Ham: A great contribution to literature

Today I celebrate Dr.Seuss for all the entertainment he provided in my childhood.

I loved his books and would sleep with them under my pillow so that the stories would fill my dreams and occupy my earliest waking hours.

After and Before: Disruptors are the new cool

Team work is bliss

Today I invite you to look at a piece of work I did some years ago.

In the spirit of disruption an after and before. Have you noticed how disruptors are the new cool? Anything or anyone who disrupts the normal way of doing things gets the kudos, the fan base and the stand-up-and-take-a-look response that is expected. Now let’s dispense with tradition and turn it upside down.

So this is how it’s going to go.

Rats in the language

 

Rats! If you’ve ever had the problem of rats in your home, you may identify with strongly negative feelings about the small annoying creatures.

Thanks to my compulsive TV watching habits, I learnt that the collective noun for rats is mischief – a mischief of rats.

Collective nouns for animals, such as a congress of baboons are very interesting and often surprising – too many to mention here.

Thinking back to last year when the rats came to eat the dog food that was carelessly left around the home, their trails of mischief were abundant. From the holes in the packaging of the sturdy dog food bags, to little poo droppings all over the place, it was plain to see we had a rat problem.

We could hear them running in the roof, and saw a couple run across the lounge floor, but at such a speed, we could not catch them. We would shriek,  “there goes a rat” but be frozen to inaction as the rat scuttled to safety under the cupboard. And who wants to touch a rat with bare hands and no trapping device? (not that I would use one of those).

It wasn’t long before the rats were breeding faster than rabbits. We had to call the exterminator to get rid of the multiple mischiefs.

Other meanings

Rats are associated with dirt, disease and disgust, so when you refer to someone as a rat, you imply that they are not trustworthy.

To rat on someone means to give the game away, in other words, to tell the boss that your colleague is not at work because he is applying for another job, and not at the doctor with a near fatal tumor.

Rats in the language give expression to displeasure or distaste but their close cousin the mouse, has a much friendlier reputation. They are considered cute and considerate – as quiet as a mouse – and many a character has been animated to be a larger than life rodent. Perhaps we have Mickey Mouse to thank for that.

Any famous rats of Walt Disney fame? None that I know of, but thousands upon thousands used in medical experiments for the health of human kind.

Feedback welcome.

How big is your appetite for words?

Five word pairs to increase your word power

A deadly blutterance: How words are formed

Of acronyms and shortened words: abbreviations explained

This week a client asked me, “Is it okay to write CEO?”

I was a bit taken aback because CEO is one of those ‘words’ that is better known by its shortened version than its elongated other – Chief Executive Officer.

Copy required for newspapers must maximise efficiency as space is premium and no editor will accommodate three words, when three letters will serve the same purpose adequately.

Some organisations and concepts have preferred usage in their abbreviated form than their full name or title such as Opec or Unesco, LED, HTML and radar.

You know exactly what they mean and how they apply, right? So why worry yourself by delving into the long form.

What is interesting however is how abbreviations are classed.  There are two main types: initialisms and acronyms.

Acronyms are shortenings of phrases that use, usually the first letter of each of the words, to make up a new word.

Some examples:

  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation)
  • AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
    OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)
  • ASAP (as soon as possible)
  • Radar (radio detecting and ranging)
    Scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus)

In many style guides, it is recommended to write these contractions in word style, meaning to start with a capital letter and use lower case characters for the remaining.  Others prefer to use all capital letters, while some have preferences on a case by case basis.

Initialisms are abbreviations that take the initials of the word and each letter is pronounced separately such as FBI, DVD, BTW, IBM.

If a word is used in its shortened form such as Dr, Mrs, Prof, Wifi, biopic and takes neither the characteristics of an acronym nor an initialism, it is simply an abbreviation.

BTW (By the way) not all grammar sites and dictionaries agree; this is my view.

And if you are not confused enough, there’s also a word form called a backronym. Another time perhaps?

Words and Phrases: Of Mondegreens and Mishearings

No damn synchronicity: Synonyms and antonyms