Archive | September, 2012

Word of the Week: Inscrutable

29 Sep

Inscrutable: (adj.) Not easily understood or investigated

Similar to: Enigmatic, impenetrable, ambiguous

Example: My mother said that she found it inscrutable why my new product, Ins-crouta-bowls–square-shaped bowls for holding croutons–had failed so badly.  I said, “Maybe because it was a terrible idea!”  It was a straightforward response, and I was right.

Abbrevs.

22 Sep

I married a boy.  He’s actually quite a man.  For example, he has little to no opinion on the the interior decoration of our home, he enjoys the sport of football, I’ve got him wearing a brown belt with black shoes, he likes dark beers that are flavored with things only really manly men like in their beers, like exotic chiles and stouty grains and, you know … not talking about feelings.  These beers are meaty.  They’re heavy.  They’re black as the secret sins in my heart.

Oh, and also, he owns shoes made by Crocs.  His reason is that he has flat feet and they’re very supportive and comfortable.  But know what else is supportive and comfortable?  Your wife staying with you because you don’t wear terrible shoes!

So he’s a very manly man.  I want to be clear about this.  But he also has some qualities that — and I want to make sure I’m using the proper and respectful terminology here — make him a foo-foo Tinker Bell.

Most of these qualities make being married to him even more excellent.  One incredible example of one of his wonderful qualities is that he actually DOES talk about his feelings.  So fortunately, this means he shares things he thinks with me.  Unfortunately, this means that I have to know what he’s thinking.  Like recently (and this actually happend), a certain Taylor Swift music video was playing, and he asked, “What in the world are they wearing?” and I said, “Well, I think this song is Romeo and Juliet themed, so I think they’re going with that,” he his response, instead of being something like, “Huh,” or “I like to eat raw meat while watching a football match” or “Hold on, I have to go leave the toilet seat up,” he says, scoffing, “Well, those costumes are really more Victorian than Elizabethan.”

UPDATE: Just one minute ago, I asked him what the context was wherein he made that comment (I couldn’t remember what we were watching).  His face fell a little, because I think he realized what was happening in this blog, and he told me it was a Taylor Swift music video (which we were just watching for, um, research!).  But then he followed that up by saying, “I mean, they really weren’t completely Victorian.  It’s just … they were NOT Elizabethan.”

He has another habit, though, that is not so much a qualification for him to be a judge on Project Runway, and is moreso lifted from teenage girls.

The man loves abbreviations.  Or, as he actually and always calls them, abbrevs.

I’ve gotten so used to it that I sometimes forget how much it happens.  Then I am reminded.  For example, we were with some friends the other week, trying to decide where to eat, and he suggested (using the term that he always does) that we dine at Noods and Co.  I didn’t think anything of it.  Everyone else slowly backed out the door and ran screaming from the parking lot.  “Something about nudes!” I could hear them yelling.  “Never socialize with them again!”

He abbreviates everything.  He abbreviates so much that I cannot even think of adequate examples (and neither can he; I just asked).    I can tell you that he does refuse to say that he is going to “Hop in the shower,” choosing instead to exclusively claim that he is going to “hop show.”  And just a few minute ago, when we were talking about going to see The Master later this afternoon, he asked if, in the movie, “Philly Hoffs” (Philip Seymour Hoffman) played a cult leader.

Even outside the world of teenage girls and my husband, abbreviations and acronyms are important.  I don’t need to teach you about how to make abbreviations (“… and you can write M … R … S … and then a period; what does that stand for?  Oh, those letters represent a lady who thinks she’s better than you on account of you just don’t understand how much a KitchenAid just really revolutionizes life in the kitchen”); however, I do see a lot of people running into problems when it comes into the punctuation and style of certain abbreviations and acronyms, so let’s just talk about a few.

First of all, for a lot of abbreviations, I can’t tell you things like whether you should use upper-case or lower-cases, periods or no periods.  These things are largely determined by style guides (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).  So invest in a book or use the Internet for this.

Here are a few areas I can weigh in on, though.

1. In formal writing, before you use an abbreviation, you must first spell out the whole word.  For example, you might say, “The American Psychological Association (APA) has a lot of thoughts about abbreviations.”  From then on in the paper, you may safely just use APA.

2. Those pesky Latin abbreviations.  You know, i.e., e.g., et al.  When you should use them?  Well, sparingly, and when you do, most experts say only in parentheses.  And just for reference, here are the differences between them:

i.e.  This stands for “id est,” which means “that is” or “in other words” when translated.

e.g.  This stands for “exempli gratia,” which means “for example.”

et al. This stands for “et alii,” which means “and others.”

A lot of people have a hard time knowing when to use i.e. and when to use e.g.  It’s a little self-explanatory.  Since e.g. means for example, you use it when you are giving examples (e.g. like this).  You should use i.e. when you want to re-state something (i.e. you want to say it in another way).  These words should NOT be italicized.

3. Like I said, different stylebooks have different rules about where to use periods and commas.  For example, most style books recommend using periods after degrees (like B.S. or Ph.D.), but APA says, “No way, Jose, Phd!”  The best advice that I can give you is to always go to your stylebook.

4. Here are some things you should NOT abbreviation:

-Days of the week or months of the year in normal writing (like in the middle of a sentence)

-Words at the beginning of the sentence (unless the sentence starts with a title like Dr. and Mrs.)

-State names except when mailing letters

-Words that start with the letters a-s-s.  It’s … just good practice.

Again, I want to assure everyone that my husband is totally a dude.  For example, today, I was like, “I really believe I can make a difference in the educational and professional world!” and he said, “Go make me a sandwich, your role is in the home!”

He’s so sweet.

Word of the Week: Daunting

15 Sep

Daunting: (adj.) Causing fear or discouragement; overwhelming

Similar to: Intimidating, formidable

Example: I cannot think of a more daunting task than trying to determine who looks more like he’s perpetually watching a car crash: Elijah Wood or a lemur.

You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means: Part III, Or, Commonly Confused Words.

5 Sep

Taking things out of their context can be a dangerous thing.

Take, for example, the whole tradition of bridesmaids.  In the context of weddings, it’s perfectly appropriate–and even expected–to ask your closest friends to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes and shoes and gifts and jewelry and travel all so that they can dress up in the same clothes and stand in a line holding a bouquet of flowers while you kiss somebody.

We just accept this, like it’s no big deal, like it’s a totally normal thing to do.  But the other day, I wanted to kiss this dude I’m married to now*, and so I called up all of my friends and said, “Quick! Wrap up a toaster or a set of wine glasses, put your hair in a curly sideways ponytail, and get down here to stand in a line next to me! Oh, the theme is ‘Reclaimed Rustic Garden Antique Vintage Throwback Owl Owl Owl Owl Owl.’  And instead of giving the guests favors, we’re going to donate to the charity of–hello?  Hello?” and all of the sudden everyone’s acting like this is a super weird thing to do.

[*On a non-grammatical note, I should say that I am married now, and while it’s excellent and fantastic, I do not like to use the phrase “my husband.”  Yes, sure, that’s what he is, but there’s something painfully stuffy and braggadocious about typing it.  You know, unlike the word braggadocious.

It was hard enough to say “my fiancé.”  Eventually I did just because it was easier, but for a long time I referred to him, “my boyfriend who proposed to me and I said yes.”  I suppose that, following the same idea, the long-form for “husband” would be, “That guy who watches those silly football matches with beer drinks and never leaves the toilet seat down and forgets to do home maintenance hammer projects and has an actual medical problem with obesity even though I’m thin and model-esque! Laugh track! Sitcoms! All men are fools!”]

The point I’m making is this: it is important to keep things in their proper context.  With that in mind, the following is a list of commonly confused words that you should stop using in the wrong context.

1. A lot vs. alot

A lot means “many” or “a whole bunch.”

Alot is not a word.

2. All ready vs. already

All ready: Completed prepared.  As in, “The shepherd’s pie was all ready to be eaten.  The hunter’s pie was not.”

Already: By this time; so soon, so early.  As in, “Shouldn’t the hunter’s pie already be done?”

3. Eminent vs. imminent

Eminent: Well-known; influential.  As in, “Eminem was an eminent presence in his college elective course, ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, I’M FROM DETROIT AND I’M GONNA CUT YOU: Seuss Gets Pissed, Or, An Introduction to Caucasian Rhyme.'”

Imminent: Impending; soon to occur.  As in, “If my knees feel achy, I know a storm is imminent.  Especially if my knees are achy from kicking Thor in the gut for not agreeing with me that ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ is totally his song.”

4. Precede vs. proceed.

Precede: To come before.  As in, “A new study shows that 80-90% of occurrences wherein an infectious disease is passed from one person to another are preceded by the phrase, ‘Hey, isn’t Ke$ha great?'”

Proceed: To move forward; to carry on.  As in, “The best way to proceed on an airport’s moving walk-way is this: move to the right if you’re in a hurry, and stay on the left if you’re like me, spread-eagle on the moving ground, gasping, ‘GAIA, BLESSED MOTHER, YOU’RE HAVING A SEIZURE.'”

5. Accept vs. except

Accept: To take or receive; to consent to.  As in, “My friends accept me for who I am: their boss, who has written friendship into their contracts.”

Except: With the exclusion of.  As in, “My friends accept me for who I am because of the contract, except for my best friends, who also accept me as ‘the defendant’ in their civil suit against me.  Best friends are so funny! And litigious!”

So remember: context, context, context.  It’s like the other day, when I got into a big fight with a police officer.  At first he was really mad and all arrest-y because I said, “I’m gonna punch you in the stomach until you can’t breathe!”  But the thing is, if he had waited for me to give him the context–“I’m gonna punch you in the stomach until you can’t breathe BECAUSE I’M TRYING TO GET TO A ROBBERY”–I have a feeling he would have been a little more understanding.  Instead, he gave me the Nicholas Sparks treatment, which is basically where I get tasered and then someone I love gets cancer, and also, I’m an awful writer.

 

 

 

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