Wednesday, January 18, 2017

This Week: More pronunciation on the podcast (French this time!) + rondezvous/rendezvous

The first syllable of “rendezvous” rhymes with “pond” but is not spelled like it. It comes from a word related to English “render” and is hyphenated in French: rendez-vous. In English the two elements are smooshed together into one: “rendezvous.”


On the podcast this week, we make a few more pronouncements about pronunciation (this time it's French).

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This Week: Pronunciation on the podcast + "lite" spelling

“lite” spelling
Attempts to “reform” English spelling to render it more phonetic have mostly been doomed to failure—luckily for us. These proposed changes, if widely adopted, would make old books difficult to read and obscure etymological roots, which are often a useful guide to meaning. A few—like “lite” for “light,” “nite” for “night,” and “thru” for “through”—have attained a degree of popular acceptance, but none of these should be used in formal writing. “Catalog” has become an accepted substitute for “catalogue,” but I don’t like it and refuse to use it. “Analog” has triumphed in technical contexts, but humanists are still more likely to write “analogue.”


On the podcast this week, we make a few pronouncements about pronunciation.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Corrected Link: This Week's Podcast

The link provided for the podcast this week was incorrect in the previous post. Please follow this link to listen to the conclusion of our 2016 wrap-up.

This Week: More on 2016 in review + steak/stake

“Stake” has many meanings, but the only time to use “steak” is when you are talking about a hunk of meat.


On the podcast this week, we continue our discussion wrapping up 2016 by discussing usage-related stories, including the Plain English Foundations worst-of-the-year list.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

This Week: BOOK SALE CONCLUDES + 2016 wrap-up on the podcast + spit and image/spitting image

spit and image/spitting image
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earlier form was “spitten image,” which may have evolved from “spit and image.” It’s a crude figure of speech: someone else is enough like you to have been spat out by you, made of the very stuff of your body. In the early 20th century the spelling and pronunciation gradually shifted to the less logical “spitting image,” which is now standard. It’s too late to go back. There is no historical basis for the claim sometimes made that the original expression was “spirit and image.”

End-of-year sale: Get the book for just $15 through December 31 (free shipping within the US).

On the podcast this week, we discuss some usage stories of the year.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Podcast Notes for the Holidays
We've posted a corrected version of podcast episode #63, which previously had some errors.
Also this week we rerun a two podcasts from last year: our solstice episode and our Christmas episode.

Don't forget to order the book before January 1 if you want to take advantage of our year-end special: $15 (just $12 if you order 5 copies or more). 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

This Week: BOOK SALE CONTINUES + A couple of old favorites on the podcast + Xmas/Christmas

“Xmas” is not originally an attempt to exclude Christ from Christmas, but uses an abbreviation of the Greek spelling of the word “Christ” with the X representing the Greek letter chi. However, so few people know this that it is probably better not to use this popular abbreviation in religious contexts.

End-of-year sale: Get the book for just $15 through the end of the year (free shipping within the US).

On the podcast this week, we repeat some old favorite episodes on the solstice and Christmas. Look for them Wednesday the 21st (Solstice) and Thursday the 22nd (Christmas).