Our ridiculous English spelling




Ridiculous 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






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.” Ouch. 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. … Continue reading






Banished words list: fun for a slow news day




You have probably noticed an article or two about the annual banished words list. Did you notice that it came out on January 1? The public relations department of Lake Superior State University has issued the list since 1976. It’s a lot of fun for word lovers. New Year’s Day is a slow news day, so when the list was new, it seemed a good day to get some press. I thought it would be fun to look back at previous lists to see if our society has actually stopped using any of the words. … Continue reading