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.


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

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.


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

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.


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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

This Week: Lies on the podcast (part 2) + mislead/misled

“Mislead” is the present tense form of this verb, but the past tense and past participle forms are “misled.” When you mislead someone you have misled them. The spelling error most often occurs in the phrase “don’t be mislead,” especially in advertising. Although this phrase refers to the future, the helping verb “be” requires the participle “misled”: “don’t be misled.”


On the podcast this week, political lying is still in the news, and we discuss what it means.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

This Week: Lies on the podcast (part 1) + abstruse/obtuse

Most people first encounter “obtuse” in geometry class, where it labels an angle of more than 90 degrees and less than 180. Imagine what sort of blunt arrowhead that kind of angle would make and you will understand why it also has a figurative meaning of “dull, stupid.” But people often mix the word up with “abstruse,” which means “difficult to understand.”

When you mean to criticize something for being needlessly complex or baffling, the word you need is not “obtuse,” but “abstruse.”


On the podcast this week, political lying is in the news, and we discuss what it means.