Even today subjected as we are to the apotheosis of popular culture using the English language respectfully helps us maintain a sense of ourselves and our values. To do otherwise, to disregard the ways of our words, is to forsake our humanity and, perhaps, even forfeit our future. A society is generally as lax as its language. And in a society of this sort, easiness and mediocrity are much esteemed.
The Vocabula Review is published on the third Tuesday of each month. Click here to read the journal archives:
Books replaced scrolls because they were so handy. You could do things with a book you couldn't do easily with a scroll, like carry it around with you. You could flip to what you wanted without having to roll and unroll feet and feet of material. You could bookmark your place and easily pick up where you left off. You could put it in your pocket, loan it, collect it, put it on a bookshelf and so find it again with ease. New replaced old because it was better.
Ebooks: The Publisher's Dream
One night the chief financial officer of a major book publisher fell into a blissful sleep and had what she felt was a most enjoyable dream. She dreamed that her company owned the rights to only one manuscript....
On Moribund Metaphors
Robert Hartwell Fiske
Metaphors, like similes, should have the briefest of lives. Their vitality depends on their evanescence.
Grumbling About Grammar
Although few people can complain of another's grammatical mistakes with impunity, that is, without revealing their own, I am hopeful that "Grumbling About Grammar" will encourage us all to pay more heed to how the language is used by ourselves as well as by others while bettering our ability to speak and write it. The grammatical errors that I have assembled here come from publications like The New York Times, Wired, TV Guide, and Martha Stewart Living. Others come from websites like Salon.com and Winmag.com. And still others from TV newscasters, politicians, and businesspeople. These are the people we so often read and listen to whether or not we care to. Woefully, it is not Edith Wharton or Henry James from whom we learn to speak and write the language; rather, it is these sometime purveyors of confused, misused, and abused language.
considering the fact that Verbose for because, considering, for, given that, in that, or since. Considering the fact that some 6,400 hospitals endured a lengthy and intensive evaluation, analyzing everything from new technology to nurse-to-bed ratio, our ranking is something to be proud of. USE Since. [Newspaper advertisement] Considering the fact that McCain bests Gore in the latest hypothetical match-ups, the beleaguered veep might do better to ignore the feminist and take a lesson from Naura Hayden, the scholar behind How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time ... And Have Her Beg for More! USE Given that. [Suck.com]
Because of the fact that, given the fact that, in light of the fact that, in view of the fact that, and owing to the fact that are also verbose for because, considering, for, given that, in that, or since. Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. for both men and women, so in view of the fact that packaged breakfast cereals are so convenient, this is very good news. USE since. [Eating Well] It began in the trenches of World War I, and ended eight years ago in Phoenix, Arizona, shortly after Nana Boutelle always punctual in life didn't even make it to her own funeral, owing to the fact that the car carrying her ashes got stolen and mixed up in the Phoenix underworld. USE because. [Boston Magazine]
The Grumbling About Grammar Awards (GAGAs)
1. A quick, easy customer experience garnered Yahoo the success it enjoys today and the new prominence of Yahoo Shopping complexifies the experience and could threaten Yahoo's core experience. Creative Good Inc. (http://www.goodexperience.com/)
Complexifies? The author either is unfamiliar with the word complicates or does not know the difference between neologism and nonsense.
Elegant English vs. Everyday English
We all know far too well how to write everyday English, but few of us know how to write elegant English English that is expressed with music as well as meaning, style as well as substance. The point of this feature is not to suggest that people should try to emulate these examples of elegant English but to show that the language can be written with grace and polish qualities that much contemporary writing is bereft of and could benefit from.
1. Everyday English: I can't think of what I want to say.
Elegant English: Men do not long continue to think what they have forgotten how to say. [C. S. Lewis, The Death of Words]
Scarcely Used Words
Inadequate though they may be, words distinguish us from all other living things. Indeed, our worth is partly in our words. Effective use of language clear writing and speaking is a measure of our humanness. What's more, the more words we know and can correctly use, the broader will be our understanding of self, the keener our acquaintance with humankind.
acedia (ah-SEE-dee-ah) n. 1. an onset of distaste for and boredom with all religious practices. 2. spiritual sloth or indifference; ennui.