Define your Words Carefully

rogersgeorge on March 16th, 2017

Here is the lead sentence of a two-part article written by someone I generally respect. His material is thoroughly researched and clearly explained. However, I think he’s being a little too editorial here, pushing the boundary of meaning for effect rather than to convey information. At least he’s honest enough to describe in advance how he’s redefining the word.

I encounter so many myths and misunderstandings about rising sea level, in effect lies.

The article goes on to explain and correct some common misunderstandings. But to be a lie, a misstatement has to be deliberate and have the intent to deceive. Since he doesn’t name names, I don’t think he’s justified in calling them lies. I think most people who hold these incorrect positions are uninformed or misinformed, with no intention to deceive. In fact, that’s pretty much what he says as he redefines the word.


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Pair Parallelism

rogersgeorge on March 14th, 2017

In English (and other languages) we have pairs of words that go together. If you use one, you should use the other. Some pairs that come to mind are: either—or neither—nor both—and not only—but also on the one hand—on the other hand (some wags add “on the third hand”) Greek has one called the “men—de” […]

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Comparative, Superlative

rogersgeorge on March 12th, 2017

The comic Luann (here Luann Againn), by Greg Evans, has a character characterized by interest in physical appearance and lack of interest in things academic. Her loss. But she’s a good example of what not to do, so that’s a good thing, I guess. Does her mistake jump out at you? If you’re a regular […]

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Why People use “I” after a Preposition

rogersgeorge on March 10th, 2017

Because your grade-school English teacher corrected two mistakes at once. You’d say something like the first three words in this Jump Start comic by Robb Armstrong: The first “mistake” is putting yourself first when you mention yourself and someone else. Putting yourself first is perfectly grammatical; doing so isn’t humble, though. In our culture, we think […]

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A word about Numbers

rogersgeorge on March 8th, 2017

I checked this site’s history, and all I found that was about numbers was this post about writing numbers with letters. It includes some stuff about numerology, Greek, the number of the beast, and a party game. Go read it. But I appear not to have mentioned these more mumdane stylistic niceties about writing numbers: […]

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