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

Miscellaneous Entries.

rotary; rotatory. “Rotary” is the everyday adjective describing something that spins on an axis, esp. a mechanical object {rotary razor}. In technical and scientific writing, “rotatory” describes something subject to or causing a spinning force {optical rotatory dispersion}.

route is pronounced either /root/ or /rowt/. For quite some time, pronunciation specialists have heavily favored /root/. But even those who say that they’re planning a cross-country route (/rowt/) would surely also say “Route (/root/) 66.”

ruble (= the basic monetary unit ...

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LawProse Lessons #75 & #76

Lesson # 75
What’s the most eye-opening lesson that lawyers learn at LawProse seminars?

ANSWER: There are many eye-openers, but the biggest is probably that writing style matters much more than most legal writers suspect. It is the wand that turns good ideas into gold. And just as you know the quality of a musician in the first 20 notes, you know the quality of a legal writer in the first 20 words. There’s no hiding one’s ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sanctionable.

sanctionable.

Like “sanction,” “sanctionable”carries a double sense of approval and disapproval. Most often, “sanctionable” means “deserving punishment” — e.g.: “‘It had never been suggested that a physician’s discussion of marijuana as a medical option was illegal or otherwise sanctionable,’ the suit states.” Mike McKee, “Doctors Fight Back on Prop 215,” Recorder (S.F.), 15 Jan. 1997, at 1.

But the word sometimes means “approvable.” Avoid it in this sense — e.g.: “In Massachusetts, Gov. William Weld has weighed in with a proposal that ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sanatorium; sanitorium; *sanatarium; *sanitarium.

sanatorium; sanitorium; *sanatarium; *sanitarium.

Dictionaries are almost evenly split between the spellings “sanatorium” and “sanitorium” (= an institution for the treatment of chronic diseases or care of long-term convalescents; a health resort). *"Sanatarium" and *"sanitarium" are needless variants — e.g.:

o “Early Tuesday, Carter — the first former or current American president to visit Castro’s Cuba — was to visit Cuba’s AIDS sanatarium [read ‘sanatorium’ or ‘sanitorium’] and a farm cooperative, both on the outskirts of Havana.” “Carter Debates Castro on ...

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

Miscellaneous Entries.

rigmarole (= a senselessly cumbersome, hassle-filled procedure) is the standard spelling. *"Rigamarole" is a variant spelling that is less than half as common in print. Despite its spelling, “rigmarole” is usually pronounced /RIG-uh-muh-rohl/, though the dictionaries record /RIG-muh-rohl/.

rill; *rille. “Rill” = (1) a brook or stream; or (2) a long, narrow trench or valley on the moon’s surface. *"Rille" is a variant spelling for sense 2, but there is little reason to promote it.

riposte; *ripost. “Riposte” /ri-POHST/ (= a ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: same (4).

same (4)

Today: In Ill-Formed Phrases.

Part A: *"Same . . . as are."

“Are” often appears superfluously when writers state that two or more things are identical — e.g.: “Tucson officials say they are not in the same financial straits as are [read ‘as’] officials in Boston, where bankruptcy remains a possibility.” Stephanie Innes, “Damage Done: Church Plagued by Loss of Trust,” Ariz. Daily Star, 28 Dec. 2002, at A1.

If the verb seems desirable after the “as” — because the reader ...

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LawProse Lessons #73 & #74

Lesson # 73
What is the biggest mistake that lawyers make in the writing process?

ANSWER: Starting to write before they’ve figured out precisely what the message is. As a result, the writing tends to be long-winded, meandering, repetitious, and unfocused.

For tips on adopting a sensible method for writing, see these sources:
Garner on Language and Writing 3-11 (2009).
Legal Writing in Plain English 3-6 (2001).
Scalia & Garner, Making Your Case 66-67, 69-80 (2008).
The Winning Brief 3-42 (2d ed. ...

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

same (3).

Today: As a Constitutional Crisis.

An ambiguous “same” pronoun once gave rise to a major constitutional question: whether John Tyler was in fact the tenth President of the United States. When President William Henry Harrison died on April 4, 1841, Article II of the Constitution read: “In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the ...

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

same (2).

Today: As a Pronoun Generally.

Unfortunately, the pretentious construction (“same” as a pronoun) has spread from legalese to general writing — e.g.: “Two more yards and it would have been Young’s first NFL touchdown. Noting same [read ‘that fact’?], he spat out a wad of smokeless tobacco before leaving the dressing room.” John Crumpacker & Gwen Knapp, “Sacks Coming in Bunches for the Line with No Name,” S.F. Examiner, 3 Dec. 1996, at B5.

In fact, when used as a ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of Day: same (1).

same (1).

Today: As a Pronoun in Legalese.

This usage, commonly exemplified in the phrase “acknowledging same,” is a primary symptom of legalese. H.W. Fowler wrote trenchantly that it “is avoided by all who have any skill in writing” and that those who use it seem bent on giving the worst possible impression of themselves (Modern English Usage 1st ed. at 511). The words “it,” “them,” and the noun itself (e.g., “the envelope”) are words that come naturally to us ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Language-Change Index

Language-Change Index.

The third edition of Garner’s Modern American Usage reflects several new practices. Invariably inferior forms, for example, are now marked with asterisks preceding the term or phrase, a marking common in linguistics.

The most interesting new feature is the Language-Change Index. Its purpose is to measure how widely accepted various linguistic innovations have become. Such a measuring system for usage guides was first proposed by Louis G. Heller and James Macris in 1967. They noted that “usage specialists can make ...

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

Miscellaneous Entries.

right, adj. ; righteous; rightful. These terms are sometimes confused. “Right” = correct, proper, just. “Righteous” = morally upright, virtuous, or law-abiding. This term has strong religious connotations, often of unctuousness. “Rightful” = (1) (of an action) equitable, fair {a rightful solution}; (2) (of a person) legitimately entitled to a position {the rightful heir}; or (3) (of an office or piece of property) that one is entitled to {his rightful inheritance}.

right, vb. ; *righten. The latter is a ...

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