Monthly Archives: July 2012

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Sexism (2).

Sexism (2). Today: The Pronoun Problem. English has a number of common-sex general words, such as “person,” “anyone,” “everyone,” and “no one,” but no common-sex singular personal pronoun, just “he,” “she,” and “it.” The traditional approach has been to use … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Sexism (1).

Sexism (1). Today: Generally. If you start with the pragmatic premise that you want to avoid misleading or distracting your readers, then you’ll almost certainly conclude that it’s best to avoid sexist language. Regardless of your political persuasion, that conclusion … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sewn up.

sewn up. “Sewn up” (= [of an outcome] made certain) is sometimes mistakenly written *"sown up," as if the metaphor had to do with sowing (as opposed to sewing) — e.g.: o “It seems that the powerful had the game … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: seven seas.

seven seas. This figurative term has been used since antiquity, but its meaning has varied among cultures. To the ancient Romans, the “seven seas” were a group of saltwater lagoons near what is now Venice. At about the same time, … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. *self-confessed is a common redundancy — e.g.: “A court that frees a self-confessed [read 'confessed'] murderer on a technicality would seem to bear responsibility for any harm that criminal may do in the future.” Mario Pei, Words in … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. secretive; secretory. The first is the adjective (“inclined to secrecy, uncommunicative”) corresponding to one sense “secrete” (“to hide”; the second is the adjective (“having the function of secreting”) corresponding another sense of “secrete” (“to exude from glands”). “Secretive” … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Sesquipedality (3).

Sesquipedality (3). Today: A Synthesis of Style. The problem remains: to what extent is it advisable to use big words? The Fowler brothers generally thought it inadvisable: “Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched.” H.W. Fowler & F.G. Fowler, The … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Sesquipedality (2).

Sesquipedality (2). Today: Traditional Approaches. Hard words have a legitimate literary tradition. English has inherited two strains of literary expression, both deriving ultimately from ancient Greek rhetoric. On the one hand is the plain style now in vogue, characterized by … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Sesquipedality (1).

Sesquipedality (1). Today: Generally. Sesquipedality is the use of big words, literally those that are “a foot and a half” long. Although the English language has an unmatched wealth of words available for its users, most of its resources go … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. Seattleite; *Seattlite. The first is the standard spelling; the second is a variant form. seaworthy. One word — not hyphenated. second-guess, v.t. Hyphenated thus. secretariat (= the position or quarters of a secretary) is the standard spelling. *"Secretariate" … Continue reading

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