Our ridiculous English spelling

Spelling is hard. ridiculous english spelling

Spelling is hard. ridiculous english spellingRidiculous English spelling confuses everyone. Even dictionaries and language experts get tripped up.

Do you like to eat ghoti? In case you’re wondering what that means, consider

  • gh as in enough
  • o as in women
  • ti as in nation

To spell it a more normal way, fish. Fish and chips is fried ghoti and fried ghoughghteighpteaux. Continue reading

Have we stopped reading? Becoming a post-literate society

National Gaming Day. post-literate society

National Gaming Day at Monterrey Public Library, 2009

Have we become such a post-literate society that it even extends to how we use libraries?

I just read another tiresome puff piece about how the library isn’t obsolete.

This one especially highlights how millennials (people ages 18-35) visit the library more than any other generation.

But do they read? The article gives only passing notice to books. I don’t find “read” or related words anywhere in the article. Continue reading

Library makerspaces challenge imagination

Cincinnati Public Library Makerspace

Cincinnati Public Library Makerspace

Does it look like we have a whole generation glued to their smart phones and disconnected from their surroundings?

Makerspaces encourage collaboration and make learning fun.

Among other institutions, libraries have begun to embrace the “maker movement.” Continue reading

Should passive voice be used or banned?

I submitted an article to a magazine, and the editing came back with this awkward passive voice construction:

“Shopping bags are just one type of plastic film used regularly by Americans.”


Someone submitted an article to me that had one particularly awkward paragraph with too many sentences in passive voice. I have trimmed it to bare bones, but it contained all these passives:

It is not forbidden to want to look beautiful, but living an ethical lifestyle is encouraged. Buying clothes is permitted, but you shouldn’t buy clothes you don’t need from a retailer known to oppress its workers.

And I finally had my camera with me when I saw the sign ubiquitous in North Carolina restaurants. It has always made me wonder: if I were an employee there, how am I supposed to get my hands washed? Whom should I get to wash them?

So I thought it would be fun to write a post about avoiding passive voice. Upon further investigation, I can’t do that. Too many other authors over more than a century have devoted really bad writing to that task.  Continue reading