Posts filed under ‘The meaning of it’

Punctuation, makes a difference!

Rather than tell you how important punctuation is I’d like to show you with one of my favourite examples of all time. Gloria’s letter to John…her friend or foe? Beware the comma and the full stop and their placement!

dearjohn

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November 3, 2016 at 6:08 am Leave a comment

Loving language like a lexophile

I found out the other day that I am a lexophile. A colleague sent me some “Friday Funnies”  and I was thoroughly entertained by the twists on words and phrases and delighted to find out there is even a term for these figures of speech which feature an unexpected ending: Paraprosdokians .

I thought I’d share a few here in case anyone else enjoys them:

  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  • Don’t worry about old age; it doesn’t last.
  • Police were called to a day care where a 3-yr-old was resisting a rest.
  • Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.
  • The roundest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Circumference.
  • To write with a broken pencil is pointless.
  • When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.
  • The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
  • A thief who stole a calendar got 12 months.
  • A thief fell & broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.
  • The dead batteries were given out free of charge.
  • A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.
  • A bicycle can’t stand alone; it is two tired.
  • A will is a dead giveaway.
  • Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
  • A backward poet writes inverse.
  • In a democracy it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your Count that votes.
  • A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.
  • If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
  • Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft & I’ll show you A -flat miner.
  • The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.
  • A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France, resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.
  • You are stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.
  • A calendar’s days are numbered.
  • A lot of money is tainted: ‘Taint yours, and ‘taint mine.
  • A boiled egg is hard to beat.
  • He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
  • Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
  • When you’ve seen one shopping center, you’ve seen a mall.
  • When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she’d dye.
  • Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.
  • Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.
  • Acupuncture: a jab well done.
  • Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes.
  • England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.
  • I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.
  • They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Typo.
  • I changed my iPod’s name to Titanic. It’s syncing now.
  • Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
  • I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.
  • I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.
  • This girl said she recognised me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.
  • When chemists die, they barium.
  • I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.
  • I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
  • Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.
  • I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
  • Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?
  • When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
  • Broken pencils are pointless.
  • What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
  • I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.

August 10, 2016 at 8:33 am Leave a comment

Written versus spoken English

We have just had a French exchange student stay with us and it was enlightening to see how she struggled with the different pronunciations of English words that were spelt the same! It reminded me that without the human interface, our words can often lack meaning and our message may be lost. You need to say the words out loud in context to see how they are different as if you look at the written word only – and it is not your first language, there is nothing to tell you there is any difference!

Consider these examples:

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

We must polish the Polish furniture.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

 

 

The English language is one of the most difficult to comprehend!

August 5, 2015 at 11:24 am Leave a comment

Homophonia

How do you navigate through the complexities of the English language…carefully! And with a good dose of reading widely and editing religiously you can avoid these common homograph and homophone traps.

 

homophones

 

homograph is a word that has the same spelling as another word but has a different sound and a different meaning: lead (to go in front of)/lead (a metal)

Other befuddling examples include:
The bandage was wound around the wound.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
We must polish the Polish furniture.
Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

A homophone is a word that has the same sound as another word but is spelled differently and has a different meaning: to/two/too

I have written about others in my post on they’re/their/there.

As always there are no rules around getting these right, except for abbreviations of course where you simply see if the word is actually two words, shortened!

September 5, 2014 at 6:04 am Leave a comment

Acronyms unravelled

I work at an institute that uses  acronyms for absolutely everything (even its name is an acronym) and it causes endless confusion when  people presume you know what the acronym they are using stands for! I can read a report or attend a meeting where half the content is acronyms which is not only confusing but confounding!

Acronyms

Spell it out (SIO)

An acronym must  be spelt out the first instance it is used, even if it is possible people may know what it stand for. Acronyms in a company, or industry become know as jargon and when speaking or writing in-house it is acceptable not to spell out the acronym if 100% are familiar with its meaning.

YABA:

Acronym overuse has even coined its own acronym: YABA (yet another bloody acronym)!

Tech-speak:

The use of acronyms has grown exponentially to the use of technology as  many complex naming protocols have forced abbreviations to be created for speed and clarity. Some examples are JPEG, FAQ’s, CD-ROM, even WWW. These have become so commonly understood they are not necessary to explain.

Acronym Help:

 

If  you need to find the meaning of an acronym you could use this handy link (but is is American)

http://www.acronymfinder.com

And if you get stuck with chat/text acronyms here’s another one:

http://www.netlingo.com/acronyms.php

 

February 9, 2014 at 4:50 am Leave a comment

Pruning your verbiage

As an editor of many business reports, websites and project stories I often find myself patiently explaining that less is more.  Whilst it is easy to get caught up in the magnificence of your achievements (or requests or news….) sometimes the quicker (and simpler) you say it the better – as demonstrated here.

word edit

Enough said!

trimming a hedge

 

Go forth and trim.

 

January 30, 2014 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

The language of age

Image

I received one of those annoyingly slow powerpoint presentations tonight, you know the kind with stunning photography but terrible typography that comes on one agonisingly slow line at a time, all in different fonts and colours. I persevered and was rewarded with this little insight into how we use language to describe our age which I have summed up here (in around 50 words instead of the 500 on the ppt.!)

You’re nearly 5! (usually preceded by 41/2, 43/4’s etc – how exciting)

You’re about to be ten (double figures – impressive!)

You’re into your teens (dig that) 

You become 21 (how mature!)

You turn 30 (and the language turns too)

You’re pushing 40 (bit of an effort now)

You reach 50 (phew)

You make it to 60 (just)

You hit 70 (woah, slow down)

You’re only 75 (see, not that old really)

You’re a healthy 100! 

September 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm Leave a comment

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