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Relative or relevant? How to use words correctly

Oranges export grade relative to batch quality; relevant to export farmers

On Monday, I was at a conference which was full of interesting content presented by a number of excellent speakers.

One woman, a lawyer, delivered a long and very detailed explanation of the POPI (Protection of Personal Information) Act, undeniable proof that her grasp of the act was sound. Not so the English language.

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

 

Take the log out of your eye and other idioms

I was recently at an Editing for Inclusivity workshop which aimed to address racial, gender and all other kinds of stereotyping that fills our communication to an embarrassing extent.

 

This applies in both written and verbal exchanges, only easier to forget and forgive when stated verbally.

 

In an effort to make workshop attendants better editors, in one exercise, we scrutinised a blog ‘The pot calling the kettle black’

In the racially charged environment, such that South Africa presents, it was considered extremely bad taste.   The essence of the blog, was the current president accusing the former president of something he failed to address, the author stating that the current president had done no better.

Suffice to say, use of the word ‘black’ stirred racial angst and the blog drew more than its fair share of flak. Some even said all idioms referencing colour should be dropped from the English language.

I would not like to see that happen. But what I can suggest is that writers avoid the use of insensitive idioms that could offend certain groups, and opt for others that mean the same thing. The English language has a vast array of idioms and finding an alternative cannot be that difficult.

She (the blogger) could have gone with “Take the log out of your eye before you look to take the speck out of mine.”

This has seen many incarnations with the ‘log’ being substituted with beam, etc

Here are some:

  • English Standard Version

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

  • Berean Study Bible

You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

  • Berean Literal Bible

Hypocrite! First cast out the beam from your eye, and then you will see clearly to cast out the splinter from the eye of your brother.

  • King James Bible

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

More

 

This idiom means that people are quick to see faults in others that they fail to see in themselves.

Isn’t this a human failing many of us are guilty of? And yet the blogger was trying to say the president is a hypocrite for failing to see the error of his own ways, while quick to point out the failings of the former man at the helm.

When all else fails, drop the idiom and use the phrase as you intend it to be understood. Better safe than sorry.

How to keep your powder dry in the 21st century. Idioms from the military

Do horses eat loose fern? A statement on reporting standards

Why is the world your oyster?

 

 

 

Five fast stats about social media


Video killed the radio star, it was alleged in 1981 by pop group The Buggles in the song of the same name. But has social media caused the death of newspapers, magazines, and television advertising?

When online advertising first became a thing, many approached it with hesitancy fearing change and not having a deep understanding of what the medium was all about.

Then the wisdom of advertisers who were trying to push this new craze, said, Wait we can measure results.

The assurance of measured results had more promise than ever, because there were algorithms to assess how many times people were clicking on your advert. And even a follow through to detect if the individual bought the advertising product.

But online, still contained in some respects, evolved into a social monster with the advent of Facebook soon followed by Twitter. At first dismissed as meaningless chirps, in the case of Twitter, and more social engagement for Facebook, what you or your would-be-advertiser could say on these platforms soon became opportunities to “talk directly to your audience”.

This eliminated the guess work that traditional advertising relied upon with blaze justification the likes of “We know that half the advertising works, but we don’t know which half”.

What an insane approach to a situation that demands millions of dollars. Not only is social media more sensible, it can provide accurate reading down to finite numerical accuracy, much more reliable than “half, but which half?”.
With this incredible information available to any advertiser, expenditure on social media has exploded.

Here are some statistics.
• Social media advertising budgets have doubled worldwide over the past two years—going from $16 billion in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016

• Social media spending in the U.S. alone is expected increase to $17.34 billion in 2019

• In 2017, analysts predicted a 26.3% global increase on spending for social media ads

• Social media ad spending is likely to exceed $35 billion in 2017, representing 16 percent of all digital ad spending globally

• More than 50 percent of B2B marketers rank social media as a ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ low cost ad option

More stats

 

 

How good is your spelling? Take this quick test

When there is so much stress in the world, I like to keep things light. That’s why I’ve chosen this quick quiz to take your mind off world disasters for a few minutes. As this is a language blog, you probably guessed, this is about spelling.

Go ahead, see how good your spelling is?

Enjoy!

Check your spelling skills
How good is your spelling


http://www.awordor2,org/services

 

Top 10 gender/ age appropriate words of 2017

 

 

Have you noticed how your language changes to fit trends that begin to invade your life?
Twitterati is a word in use since the advent of Twitter, Google is a frequently practised verb since the search engine came to dominate our lives.

And since men have shown a fondness for women’s wear and women have demonstrated their liking for some things once thought to be the domain of men, this too has given rise to new words.

Do you remember when grunge first came into the language? That was in 1987 when Mark Arm of Green River and Mudhoney first uses the word. It was originally used to describe a dirty sounding rock music genre “raucous guitar sound and lazy vocal delivery”, and later came to mean dirt, grime. It also described a sloppy style of dress, representative of band members’ attitude towards clothing and appearance.

The list below is the top 10 gender/appropriate list that is most in use today
1. Bromance (n): A close but non-sexual relationship between two men.
2. Grrrl (n): A young woman regarded as independent and strong or aggressive, especially in her attitude to men or in her sexuality (A blend of “Grrrr” and “Girl.”)
3. Guyliner (n): Eyeliner that is worn by men.
4. Jeggings (n): Tight-fitting stretch trousers for women, styled to resemble a pair of denim jeans.
5. Mankini (n): A brief one-piece bathing garment for men, with a T-back.
6. Mini-Me (n): A person closely resembling a smaller or younger version of another.
7. Muffin Top (n): A roll of fat visible above the top of a pair of women’s tight-fitting low-waisted trousers.
8. Screenager (n): A person in their teens or twenties who has an aptitude for computers and the Internet.
9. Muggle (n): A person who is not conversant with a particular activity or skill.
10. Noob (n): A person who is inexperienced in a particular sphere or activity, especially computing or the use of the Internet.

New Words List March 2017

For more words, editing, professional writing blogging and other needs, visit www.awordor2.org/services

How calendar days differ from others

I have always wondered about the difference between a calendar day and just a regular day. The same applies to a calendar month.

What I learnt is that a calendar day must feature on the calendar. That may sound silly. Let me explain.

A work of sedulous magnificence

Deliciously sedulous : increase your word power

A work of sedulous magnificence
Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco, a fine sedulous work

 

I am catching up with the past, voraciously reading through the pages of William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice with a copyright date of 1979. A literary marvel, the author provides delightful entertainment from the first page to the last.

Veracity and verocity: why these words get confused

Today we are going to have some fun exploring the difference between veracity and voracity. These words if not heard correctly can be interchanged to disastrous effect.  The one has to do with truth, the other appetite. Or you could say, veracity concerns one’s appetite for truth, while voracity has to do with a desire to consume.

How to keep your powder dry in the 21st century. Idioms from the military

Keeping one’s options open, is an overused phrase in today’s demanding lifestyle. But its non-committal tone, sounds like its primary use would be by people suffering from FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.

 

I was staggered then, when my husband referred to his military training while discussing our travel plans. He said, “I’m trying to work out how to keep my powder dry.” I gave him that ‘lost the plot’ look as I’m the literary part of this coupling and he, the practical.  But when he explained its origin to gun powder I had to sit up and take note.

Hence, Wikipedia enlightens: “Trust in God and keep your powder dry. … “Trust in God and keep your powder dry” is a maxim attributed to Oliver Cromwell, but which first appeared in 1834 in the poem “Oliver’s Advice” by William Blacker with the words “Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry!”

The Phrase Finder says the idiom means to be prepared and save your resources until they are needed.

Its origin is from the allusion to gunpowder which soldiers had to keep dry to be ready to fight when required. This advice reputedly originated with Oliver Cromwell during his campaign in Ireland. In Ballads of Ireland, 1856, Edward Hayes wrote:

“There is a well-authenticated anecdote of Cromwell. On a certain occasion, when his troops were about crossing a river to attack the enemy, he concluded an address, couched in the usual fanatic terms in use among them, with these words – ‘put your trust in God; but mind to keep your powder dry’.”

19th century citations of the phrase invariably give the full version – trust in God and keep your powder dry. This emphasises that ‘keep your powder dry’ was seen only as an additional insurance. This is made clear in a piece from The Times Literary Supplement, 1908:

“In thus keeping his powder dry the bishop acted most wisely, though he himself ascribes the happy result entirely to observance of the other half of Cromwell’s maxim.” http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/217500.html

Finedictionary.com says it means ‘to remain cautious and ready for a possible emergency.’

The dictionary has a list of examples of its use in literature but does not provide dates in all instances.

  • We’ll crouch against the wall, Ned, and keep our rifles, powder and ourselves as dry as possible.” The Texan Star” by Joseph A. Altsheler
  • Keep your powder dry, and trust in Providence, is the motto of the wise. “The Second Thoughts of An Idle Fellow” by Jerome K. Jerome
  • So long as the enemy sticks to the wood all we can do is to wait and keep our powder dry.” In the Field (1914-1915)” by Marcel Dupont. http://www.finedictionary.com/Keep%20the%20powder%20dry.html

Now I’m glad I have a military reference for the next time I have to be indecisive and weigh up my options before making a commitment.

Can you meet me at Wednesday at 3pm? “Well, I’m keeping my powder dry and I can only confirm on Wednesday morning,” I’ll say.

Keeping one’s options open, is an overused phrase in today’s demanding lifestyle. But its non-committal tone, sounds like its primary use would be by people suffering from FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.

I was staggered then, when my husband referred to his military training while discussing our travel plans. He said, “I’m trying to work out how to keep my powder dry.” I gave him that ‘lost the plot’ look as I’m the literary part of this coupling and he, the practical.  But when he explained its origin to gun powder I had to sit up and take note.

Hence, Wikipedia enlightens: “Trust in God and keep your powder dry. … “Trust in God and keep your powder dry” is a maxim attributed to Oliver Cromwell, but which first appeared in 1834 in the poem “Oliver’s Advice” by William Blacker with the words “Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry!”

The Phrase Finder says the idiom means to be prepared and save your resources until they are needed.

Its origin is from the allusion to gunpowder which soldiers had to keep dry to be ready to fight when required. This advice reputedly originated with Oliver Cromwell during his campaign in Ireland. In Ballads of Ireland, 1856, Edward Hayes wrote:

“There is a well-authenticated anecdote of Cromwell. On a certain occasion, when his troops were about crossing a river to attack the enemy, he concluded an address, couched in the usual fanatic terms in use among them, with these words – ‘put your trust in God; but mind to keep your powder dry’.”

19th century citations of the phrase invariably give the full version – trust in God and keep your powder dry. This emphasises that ‘keep your powder dry’ was seen only as an additional insurance. This is made clear in a piece from The Times Literary Supplement, 1908:

“In thus keeping his powder dry the bishop acted most wisely, though he himself ascribes the happy result entirely to observance of the other half of Cromwell’s maxim.” http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/217500.html

Finedictionary.com says it means ‘to remain cautious and ready for a possible emergency.’

The dictionary has a list of examples of its use in literature but does not provide dates in all instances.

  • We’ll crouch against the wall, Ned, and keep our rifles, powder and ourselves as dry as possible.” The Texan Star” by Joseph A. Altsheler
  • Keep your powder dry, and trust in Providence, is the motto of the wise. “The Second Thoughts of An Idle Fellow” by Jerome K. Jerome

Now I’m glad I have a military reference for the next time I have to be indecisive and weigh up my options before making a commitment.

Can you meet me at Wednesday at 3pm? “Well, I’m keeping my powder dry and I can only confirm on Wednesday morning,” I’ll say.