Archive | August, 2012

Word of the Week: Foist

25 Aug

Definition: (v.) To insert or introduce surreptitiously (sneakily); to force someone to accept something undesirable by force or deceit

Similar to: Impose, pass off, compel

Example: The jeweler tried to foist the diamond on me like it was something valuable, but I knew it for what it really was: a really, really, hard, sharp rock that was sparkly and valuable.  Oh, crap.

Titles

15 Aug

 

Hello! We’re back!  We were on a long “getting married” hiatus, but now we’re back and … well, we’re back!

I was under the mistaken impression that upon getting married I would receive a new, fancier, more grown-up title.  I was thusly fully prepared to be introduced for the rest of my life as Her Royal Highness, Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, PrinCESS of Genovia.

It turns out that actually, now I’m just technically a Mrs.  I don’t get a crown or anything, but I do automatically get a 10% discount off of holiday-themed vests.

Titles actually played a semi-important role in our wedding.  Our gift to our guests was a super awesome mix CD that told our story in song.  It isn’t so much that music plays a central role in both of our lives and in our relationship: it’s more than I made an ill-advised investment in jewel cases about a year back, and I’ve got some product to move.

Choosing the songs for the CD was actually pretty simple; it was coming up with a title that was a little more difficult.  We spent an afternoon brainstorming.  We could name it something like “Kidz Bop Kidz Sing a Two-Song Sampler of Jewel’s Poetry Put to the Sounds of STOMP! Because of, You Know, the Homeless Thing,” but apparently the kidz were so appalled by how terrible Jewel’s poems were that they stormed out of the recording session, muttering things like, “‘I feel my flesh burn beneath the teeth of their inDIFFERENCE’?!  Are you kidding me?  A girl in her high school creative writing class called, Jewel, and she wants her mixed metaphors back.  Come on, guys, we need to lay down that Smash Mouth track again.  Puberty’s knockin’.”

We could have named it “Here for the Right Reasons and Other Sounds of ABC’s The Bachelor: Hot Tub Splashes and Regret,” but, you know, we didn’t.  We could have named it “Oops!…I Did It Again.  No, Guys, For Real, Stop the Truck: The Accidental Re-release of Britney Spears’ Second Studio Album,” but we didn’t.

Instead, we named it “Evan and Riane’s 100% Guaranteed Music Elixir: Now, THAT’S What I Call Marriage! Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mix CD.”

The grammatical question these titles raise is a question I run into a lot while writing papers: how do you decide what to capitalize in a title and what to not?

The rules actually change depending on whether you’re following APA, MLA, the Chicago Manual, or something else.  If you have a specific requirement, you should follow those rules.  However, for our purposes, I am going to use the Associated Press style, which is fairly simple and widely accepted.

1. The first and last word of the title should always be capitalized, no matter what.  Even if your title is “I Swear the Last Word of This Title Won’t Be Capitalized.”

2. Capitalize nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, subordinating conjunctions, SOME regular conjunctions, and any word that is longer than three letters.

3. Do not capitalize the following words: a, an, and, at, but, by, for, in, nor, of, on, or, so, the, to, up, yet.

4. What about short words like “is”?

Refer to #2.  The length of the word is not the first thing that determines whether it is capitalized or not.  The purpose of the word matters more.  Is is a verb, and all verbs should be capitalized.  Therefore, is should be capitalized.

5. What if the first word or the last word in my sentence or title is automatically un-capitalized, like iPhone or e.e. cummings?

Your best bet is to re-write your title so that you don’t even have to deal with that problem.  All styles, despite their differences, want the first and last word capitalized, so quit making waves!  If you can’t re-write your sentence to do this, different styles are going to recommend you do different things, so stick with what your style book says.  My recommendation would be to keep the lowercase if it is meant to be there (keeping iPhone instead of changing it to IPhone); however, the Associated Press would disagree.

One final note if you’re looking to make an investment: it turns out that plastic jewel cases are not the wave of the future after all.  I should have realized.  They’re just hard, clear pieces of plastic … wait a minute.  What. if. we. could make. colored. jewel cases?

I have to make a phone call.

 

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