Posts tagged "Words & Language"

The Sexist Pronoun

By Cyberquill • 05/10/2016 • 6 Comments

Anyone who has ever dabbled in writing has likely encountered the vexing conundrum of having had to select—without running the risk of distracting his/her/his or her/their readers from the actual substance of the text by prompting them to try and glean the writer’s socio-political leanings from his/her/his or her/their selection—the aptest pronoun to refer backRead More…

It’s Enough to Say Dakota

By Cyberquill • 05/08/2015 • 36 Comments

There already is a North Dakota. Where else should the only other Dakota be located but to its south?

Between You and I: It’s Me!

By Cyberquill • 11/11/2014 • 4 Comments

How come people succumb to the impulse to hypercorrect “me” to “I” only when the hypercorrected “I” stands removed from the verb or preposition by at least two intervening words?

WARNING: This Post Contains Language

By Cyberquill • 09/15/2014 • 10 Comments

Literally doesn’t literally mean literally anymore. A few other words, it seems, are also increasingly being used in ways distinct from their literal meanings.

How Language Works or Why We Should Keep Using “Retard”

By Cyberquill • 05/29/2013 • 2 Comments

When several words or expressions mean the same thing, why is it OK to use some but not others? How come we can, be it in jest or in vexation, refer to people or concepts as “demented” or “idiotic” with relative impunity, but all hell breaks loose when we say “retarded”?

What Does Fire Do?

By Cyberquill • 04/08/2013 • 4 Comments

Arctic temperatures have descended upon your city, the heating is out, and so you light a log in your fireplace. Now the log burns, and, cuddling up on your sofa with a nice cup of tea, a plate of cookies, and a good book, you enjoy your little fire. But what exactly does the fire do? …

Monstrous Parlance

By Cyberquill • 06/11/2012 • 14 Comments

I just received an email from that opens thus: “This message is to notify you that your Monster resume has expired, and is no longer searchable by employers.” Now, I’m not one to blow his cool over trifles, but this kind of stuff really harshes my mellow; and I don’t mean the superfluous comma after expired or the missing accents on résumé…

Fork in the Road

By Cyberquill • 11/26/2011 • 16 Comments

When you come to a fork in the road, take it out. For whatever reason, somebody may have driven a salad fork into the blacktop. Or a pitchfork. A visual artist may have done it. Or a savage road killer. …

Live and Let Live

By Cyberquill • 05/22/2011 • 6 Comments

There is no courage without fear. Implicit in the concept of courage is the notion of acting in spite of being afraid. If you’re not worried that anything bad might happen to you in consequence of your actions, you cannot be said to be acting courageously. …

Black Ink

By Cyberquill • 03/09/2011 • 16 Comments

You are my favorite visitor. Absent nonverbal clues, you have no way of knowing whether I’m being sincere, sarcastic, affectionately teasing, polite in a perfunctory way, or none of the above. As written and in isolation, “You are my favorite visitor” could mean you are my absolute favorite visitor, my least favorite visitor, that I’m just goofing around, or anything in between. …

If Words Have No Meaning

By Cyberquill • 01/17/2011 • 25 Comments

The Washington Post reports that federal authorities are planning to move the trial of the alleged gunman in the Jan. 8 mass shooting in Tucson to San Diego. But what is government if words have no meaning?

None of Your Business

By Cyberquill • 10/30/2010 • 34 Comments

Often true, but never the real reason we choose to withhold information.

To Tell Or to Zip It?

By Cyberquill • 08/10/2010 • 24 Comments

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”(Jesus Christ; Luke 6:31)
It happened again. I perused someone else’s latest blog post, and there it was, in full plumage, staring right at me—a typo. How to proceed in this oft-encountered and delicate situation presents the thorniest of dilemmas. …

Best When Toe-Tagged

By Cyberquill • 06/07/2010 • 19 Comments

Barack Obama’s presidency is unconstitutional. His place of birth has nothing to do with it. The “birthers” were correct in their conclusion but wrapped themselves around the wrong issue to get there. Mr. Obama’s presidency is unconstitutional because, at age 47, he was simply too young to have been inaugurated. All his acts as “president” are therefore null and void. For all practical purposes, the nation has been a rudderless dreadnought for going on 18 months now. …

Address (Where You Live)

By Cyberquill • 03/17/2010 • 8 Comments

Yesterday I received my 2010 Census form in the mail. Didn’t I just read somewhere that they were looking for census workers to knock on doors and ask personal questions? So then wherefore this form in my mailbox? …

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