Category Archives: Language and Communication

Playing with, and ranting about, language: miscommunication, badly worded signs and questions, and changing usage (Anyone heard from “take” lately? Didn’t think so.).

What It Is

At age 12, I was mildly startled to learn that French-speaking animals can make different noises than English-speaking ones.  While cows sound about the same in both of Canada’s Official Languages, Francophone mice don’t make a (perfectly reasonable) squeak, they make a (perfectly ridiculous) wee, wee, wee noise.

What, I wondered, was with that?   Continue reading

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Who You Gonna Call?

Returning home to a three-month pile of snail mail, I start by making four piles: His, Mine, Ours, and Junk, the most easily handled but sadly the smallest pile.

Pile of snail mail

His

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Up To Or More Guaranteed

“That’s an up to $500 value, or more.”

The TV spokeswoman—apparently named Jennifer and a former serving member of the US Navy—is promoting a mortgage loan scheme that’s somehow linked to Veterans Affairs benefits.  This is not my country and the details of its government programs escape me.

In addition to offering savings through lower monthly interest charges, this program includes a free home appraisal to determine the size of the allowable loan.  Jennifer is pretty pumped about it.   Continue reading

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Poetry and Prose

“Marriage is a book in which the first chapter is written in poetry
and the remaining chapters in prose.”
– Beverley Nichols (1898 – 1983), British writer;
attributed in The Quote Verifier, by Ralph Keyes

In high school I wanted to write poetry.  All my succeeding chapters have been in prose.

Most of my work life has been helping other people write better prose: clearer, shorter, punchier.  Most of my leisure time has been trying to help my own self write better prose: snappier, funnier, memorablier.   Continue reading

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The Ize Have It

I don’t say it’s wrong, exactly, but it is faintly precious, this current British preference for the “s” over the “z.” A preference clearly on display for me these days, working with some writers from England.

They analyse, categorise, characterise, compromise, finalise, optimise, organise, pressurise, rationalise, and realise.  If I object, they apologise.

I say “current preference” because, as it turns out, the Brits started with “z” in all those words.   Continue reading

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