September 30th, 2008
When I worked for a newspaper, the staff met each week to discuss all the mistakes that slipped past our editors’ notice. Alert and well-rested, we were always amazed at how many glaring errors reared their ugly heads in the light of day. Just the night before, our words had looked so perfect. The staff at The New York Times has a similar meeting, and some of their conversations end up in the column After Deadline. Last week, they discussed the errors spell-check can’t find, like using “forego” (to go before) instead of “forgo” (to give up).
Accept or except? Altogether or altogether? Just for fun, you can test yourself on frequently confused words at the Gaylord College of Journalism.
September 29th, 2008
Good, clear writing sticks to its point. Good, productive writers never get off track, either — right?
Not exactly. It’s easy to lose focus when our writing tools are also our newspapers. While writing at my computer this afternoon, I found myself wandering over to xkcd, my favorite webcomic, only to find it poking fun at distracted writers.
Don’t be afraid to turn off the Internet!
September 26th, 2008
When Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, called the latest iPod Touch the “funnest iPod ever,” some people got angry. “Fun is just a noun, not an adjective,” they said, “even if you’re Steve Jobs.” Grammar Girl jumped in and argued that “fun” is turning into an adjective, and “funnest” will soon be acceptable. Then the linguists picked apart the word’s history — but not before T-Mobile and Google started making fun of Apple. They called their new Android G1 phone “connecteder” and “funnerer”.
Can Jobs get away with calling it the “funnest” iPod? The answer to that question lies not in a musty grammar-book, but in the ears of his audience. My guess is that young techies will think, “Funnest! An odd word to see in print! But this iPod is so fun you forget about rules” — and Jobs will have won his point.
Can YOU get away with using “funnest”? Again, consider your audience. You’re at risk for sounding lazy, flip, or too informal if you use it when writing for your boss, customers, or professionals in other companies.
As for the “funnerer” phone? I laughed.