Most popular searches on Online Writing Training
I occasionally look at what terms people search for on my website. The top items are always:
The term ‘eggcorn’ was coined by linguist Professor Geoffrey Pullum in 2003 when he spotted acorn spelt as eggcorn.
Some common eggcorns are:
- just desserts (instead of just deserts)
- straight-laced (instead of strait-laced)
- miniscule (instead of minuscule)
- free reign (instead of free rein)
- with baited breath (instead of with bated breath)
- preying mantis (instead of praying mantis)
- slight of hand (instead of sleight of hand)
- foul swoop (instead of fell swoop)
- hammer and thongs (instead of hammer and tongs)
- no love loss (instead of no love lost)
Are you guilty of any of these? Do you know of any others?
I’m reading John Simpson’s The Word Detective: A Life in Words from Serendipity to Selfie. It’s about his life working on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), interspersed with word investigations. Here’s what he has to say about selfie.
It is a truism known only to lexicographers that every new word is at last ten years older than you think. You might think selfie, for instance, is as recent as this morning’s newspaper, but its history actually does stretch back beyond the OED’s self-imposed ten-year inclusion rule. The first reference our bloodhounds tracked down for the term dates from 2002. It first appears – perhaps surprisingly – in Australia, and it seems that Europeans didn’t take any particular notice for a while. Here’s the original online posting from an Australian Broadcasting Corporation online tech forum (still there when I last checked): “Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [that’s there in the original – it’s not my typo] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”
Question: Which is correct?
- We danced with one and other.
- We danced with one and another.
Answer: If you’re dancing with your partner, why not say: ‘We danced with each other’? or ‘We danced with one another’?
Question: What is the correct abbreviation of ‘version’?
Answer: I turned to the Facebook group for this one and the two responses were:
Interesting stuff about writing
Australia’s indigenous languages have one source, study says
Researchers have traced the country’s indigenous languages back to a single, common tongue. Read more.
Grab readers’ attention with these 13 headline writing tips
These millennial entrepreneurs think email is too slow for the startup world
Do you agree that email is too slow? Read this article.
Why first-person narratives and personal storytelling work in content marketing
According to this article, personal pronouns create intimacy and authenticity. Read more.
- Disregard could work as a noun for ignore (dog’s disregard of instructions).
- ‘Arming’ and ‘disarming’ aircraft doors is a procedure. They contain explosive bolts which assist the unlocking of the doors in an emergency.
- What I find particularly galling, are such things as:
- ‘Invites’ – it’s ‘invitations’.
- ‘Train stations’ – it’s ‘railway stations’. Trains are not stationed; they pass through. The railway lines are stationed.
- ‘Hone in on‘ – ‘Say it isn’t so! This is how descriptivism gets a bad name.’ ‘Hone in on’ just doesn’t make sense!
- More and more folk in the UK are responding positively by saying, ‘For sure‘ when a simple, ‘Yes’ would suffice. (Are you noticing that?)
- Another mangling of the English language is the number of folk who insist on saying, ‘Myself and my friend’.
Wonder of words
I only discover a new author who thrills me once or twice a year. If you haven’t read Georgia Blain’s Between a Wolf and Dog, you have a treat ahead of you. It takes place largely over one rainy day in Sydney and the descriptions of the rain are ‘so Sydney’.
‘Outside, the rain continues unceasing; silver sheets sluicing down, the trees and shrubs soaking and bedraggled, the earth sodden, puddles overflowing, torrents coursing onwards, as the darkness slowly softens with the dawn.’
Quote of the month
‘Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.’