Wednesday, April 26, 2017

This Week: More Contranyms on the Podcast + on the contraire/au contraire, on the contrary, to the contrary

on the contraire/au contraire, on the contrary, to the contrary
People who like to show off their French sometimes use the expression au contraire when they mean “on the contrary” or “to the contrary.” People who don’t know any better mix up French and English by saying “on the contraire.”

“On the contrary” is the earliest form. It means “it’s the opposite”: “I thought you liked sweet pickles.” “On the contrary, I prefer dills.”

“To the contrary” means “to the opposite effect,” “in opposition”: “No matter what my neighbor says to the contrary, I think it’s his dog that’s been pooping on my petunias.”




Wednesday, April 19, 2017

This Week: More Contranyms on the Podcast + fit the bill/fill the bill

fit the bill/fill the bill
Originally a “bill” was any piece of writing, especially a legal document (we still speak of bills being introduced into Congress in this sense). More narrowly, it also came to mean a list such as a restaurant “bill of fare” (menu) or an advertisement listing attractions in a theatrical variety show such as might be posted on a “billboard.” In 19th-century America, when producers found short acts to supplement the main attractions, nicely filling out an evening’s entertainment, they were said in a rhyming phrase to “fill the bill.” People who associate bills principally with shipping invoices frequently transform this expression, meaning “to meet requirements or desires,” into “fit the bill.” They are thinking of bills as if they were orders, lists of requirements. It is both more logical and more traditional to say “fill the bill.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

This Week: Contranyms on the Podcast + mute point/moot point

mute point/moot point
“Moot” is a very old word related to “meeting,” specifically a meeting where serious matters are discussed. Oddly enough, a moot point can be a point worth discussing at a meeting (or in court)—an unresolved question—or it can be the opposite: a point already settled and not worth discussing further. At any rate, “mute point” is simply wrong, as is the less common “mood point.”


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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

This Week: More Photography on the Podcast + stricken/struck

stricken/struck  
Most of the time the past participle of “strike” is “struck.” The exceptions are that you can be stricken with guilt, a misfortune, a wound, or a disease; and a passage in a document can be stricken out. The rest of the time, stick with “struck.”

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

This Week: Photography on the Podcast + A.D.

A.D.  “A.D.” does not mean “after death,” as many people suppose. “B.C.” stands for the English phrase “before Christ,” but “A.D.” stands confusingly for a Latin phrase: anno domini (“in the year of the Lord”—the year Jesus was born). If the calendar actually changed with Jesus’ death, then what would we do with the years during which he lived? Since Jesus was probably actually born around 6 B.C. or so, the connection of the calendar with him can be misleading.

Many Biblical scholars, historians, and archaeologists prefer the less sectarian designations “before the Common Era” (B.C.E.) and “the Common Era” (C.E.).

Traditionally “A.D.” was placed before the year number and “B.C.” after, but many people now prefer to put both abbreviations after the numbers.

All of these abbreviations can also be spelled without their periods.


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https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/

On the podcast this week, we discuss one of Paul Brians’ favorite topics: photography.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This Week: Religion on the Podcast + Bible

Bible
Whether you are referring to the Jewish Bible (the Torah plus the Prophets and the Writings) or the Protestant Bible (the Jewish Bible plus the New Testament), or the Catholic Bible (which contains everything in the Jewish and Protestant Bibles plus several other books and passages mostly written in Greek in its Old Testament), the word “Bible” must be capitalized. Remember that it is the title of a book, and book titles are normally capitalized. An oddity in English usage is, however, that “Bible” and the names of the various parts of the Bible are not italicized or placed between quotation marks.

Even when used metaphorically of other sacred books, as in “The Qur’an is the Bible of the Muslims,” the word is usually capitalized; although in secular contexts it is not: “Physicians’ Desk Reference is the pharmacists’ bible.” “Biblical” may be capitalized or not, as you choose (or as your editor chooses).

Those who wish to be sensitive to the Jewish authorship of the Jewish Bible may wish to use “Hebrew Bible” and “Christian Scriptures” instead of the traditionally Christian nomenclature: “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” Modern Jewish scholars sometimes use the Hebrew acronym “Tanakh” to refer to their Bible, but this term is not generally understood by others.

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https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/

On the podcast this week, we talk about some commonly confused religious terms.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

This Week: Sex & Music on the Podcast + liquor

liquor
Although it may be pronounced “likker,” you shouldn’t spell it that way, and it’s important to remember to include the U when writing the word.


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https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/

On the podcast this week, we talk about some commonly confused sex and music terms.