Friday, September 11, 2020

New Blog Post by Paul Brians + phantom/fathom

phantom/fathom
Brianna exclaims confusedly, “I can’t phantom why he thought I’d want a coupon for an oil change for Valentine’s Day!” A phantom is a ghost, but a fathom is a nautical measure of depth. When you can’t understand something—being unable to get to the bottom of it—you should say, “I can’t fathom it.” “Phantom” is not a verb. 

 
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Paul Brians’ most recent blog post discusses “ghosting” through the ages. Does Paul have other interests besides English usage? Of course! He’s also an authority on the history of American comic strips.
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https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/

The podcast is just a ghost by now, but you may still listen to all the episodes you may have missed. Episodes 40 and 41 are about American comic strips.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

End-of-year Book Sale + in terms of


in terms of 
Originally this expression was used to explain precise quantifiable relationships: “We prefer to measure our football team’s success in terms of the number of fans attending rather than the number of games won.” But it has for a long time now been greatly overused in all kinds of vague ways, often clumsily.

Here are some awkward uses followed by recommended alternatives:
“We have to plan soon what to do in terms of Thanksgiving.” (for)
“What are we going to do in terms of paying
these bills?” (about)
“A little chili powder goes a long way in terms
of spicing up any dish.” (toward)
“What do you like in terms of movies?”
(What kind of movies do you like?)

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Two books on sale through the end of December—just $12 for Common Errors in English Usage and $17 for Far from the Madding Gerund:

   https://wmjasco.com/william-james-co/55-far-from-the-madding-gerund-9781590280553.html 
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https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/

We bid farewell to the podcast some time ago, but you may still listen to all the episodes you may have missed, including our 2017 Thanksgiving special.



Thursday, August 22, 2019

Summer Sale on Books Continues + New Blog Post + laissez-faire

laissez-faire 
The mispronunciation “lazy-fare” is almost irresistible in English, but this is a French expression meaning “let it be” or, more precisely, “the economic doctrine of avoiding state regulation of the economy,” and it has retained its French pronunciation (though with an English R): “lessay fare.” It is most properly used as an adjective, as in “laissez-faire capitalism,” but is also commonly used as if it were a noun phrase: “the Republican party advocates laissez-faire.”



Paul Brians’ latest blog post is here:
The Triumph of Late Capitalism

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Two books on sale through the end of August—just $12 for Common Errors in English Usage and $17 for Far from the Madding Gerund:

   https://wmjasco.com/william-james-co/55-far-from-the-madding-gerund-9781590280553.html 
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https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/
We bid farewell to the podcast some time ago, but you may still listen to all the episodes you may have missed.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Summer Sale on Books Continues + New Blog Posts + beyond the pail/beyond the pale


beyond the pail/beyond the pale
A pale is originally a stake of the kind which might make up a palisade, or enclosure. The uncontrolled territory outside was then “beyond the pale.” The expression “beyond the pale” came to mean “bizarre, beyond proper limits”; but people who don’t understand the phrase often alter the last word to “pail.”

The area of Ireland called “the Pale” inside the Dublin region formerly controlled by the English is often said to have been the inspiration for this expression, but many authorities challenge that explanation.


Paul Brians’ latest blog posts are here:
When It Rains, It Pours
Politically Healthy Language

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Two books on sale through the end of August—just $12 for Common Errors in English Usage and $17 for Far from the Madding Gerund:

   https://wmjasco.com/william-james-co/55-far-from-the-madding-gerund-9781590280553.html 
 ________________________________

https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/
We bid farewell to the podcast some time ago, but you may still listen to all the episodes you may have missed.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Summer Sale on Books + gauge/gouge

gauge/gouge
“Gauge” is an unusual spelling in English, and the word frequently gets misspelled. Your spelling-checker will catch “gague” (believe it!), but won’t catch “gouge,” which occurs more often than you might think. It’s pretty easy to find a “tire pressure gouge” for sale on the Web. If the word you want has an A sound in it, the spelling you want is “gauge.”


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Two books on sale through the end of August—just $12 for Common Errors in English Usage and $17 for Far from the Madding Gerund:

   https://wmjasco.com/william-james-co/55-far-from-the-madding-gerund-9781590280553.html 
 ________________________________

https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/
We bid farewell to the podcast some time ago, but you may still listen to all the episodes you may have missed.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Jew/Hebrew + New Blog Post by Paul Brians

Jew/Hebrew
These terms overlap but are often distinguished in usage. In the older portions of the Bible the descendants of Abraham and Sarah are referred to as “Hebrews.” Since the sixth century BCE Babylonian captivity and the return from exile, they have been known as “Jews,” a name derived from the dominant remaining tribe of Judah. Modern Jews are seldom referred to as “Hebrews” but the language spoken in the state of Israel today, based on ancient Hebrew, is “Modern Hebrew.” Although “Hebrew” has sometimes been used in a condescending or insulting manner to refer to modern Jews, it is not in itself an insulting term. However, it is normal when you have a choice to use “Jew” to refer both to people of the Jewish faith and to ethnic Jews, religious or not.

“Hewbrew” is a common misspelling of “Hebrew.” If you’re in the habit of ignoring names when they are flagged by your spelling checker, don’t ignore this one.



Paul Brians’ latest blog post discusses the language of anti-Semitism.
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https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/

We bid farewell to the podcast some time ago, but we covered this entry in Episode 50, “Commonly Confused Words, the PC Edition.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Book Sale Continues + translucent/transparent/opaque + New Blog Post by Paul Brians

translucent/transparent/opaque 
Although technically anything that light can shine through is translucent, most writers now reserve this word for substances that don’t clearly display what is on the other side. A frosted window-pane, a thin rice-paper screen, or a sheet of tissue paper may be called “translucent.” A clear window or camera lens is transparent. “Sheer” fabric can be either translucent or transparent. Better check before you go out in public.

“Opaque” is the opposite of “translucent.” Anything solid through which light cannot pass is opaque.


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Paul Brians’ latest blog post sheds some light on a fascinating book by Alan Moore.
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Two books on sale this month, $15 each with free shipping:

   https://wmjasco.com/william-james-co/55-far-from-the-madding-gerund-9781590280553.html 
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https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/

We bid farewell to the podcast some time ago, but if you could use more light these days, you might want to listen to “The Solstice and Celestial Terms.”