Sometime between kindergarten and high school, you might have encountered the Sandwich Project. It’s a classroom exercise often used to teach concepts about programming and robotics. But it’s also a good way to make us think about writing clearly for any purpose. Here’s how it works. The teacher divides the class into small groups. Each … More How do you make a sandwich?
“Super” is a super word. Well, it’s really more of a prefix. It’s Latin for “above,” which is why the superstructure of a ship or a building is on top rather than down in the bilge or the basement. We also use “super” in a figurative sense of higher rank, which is why people in … More A super suggestion for the linguistically lazy
In our school days, we probably all tried the same tricks to stretch our minimal research into the five-page report assigned by the teacher. Widen the margin, but not quite enough to attract attention. Use big type and extra spacing. Write sentences like, “This five-page report will report on the rise of the Byzantine Empire, … More The long and the short of it
We hear bureaucratic language so often that it’s hard to keep it from seeping into our informal writing. One especially widespread and irritating phrase is “negatively impact.” It means “hurt.” So say that. You’ll get one word to do the work of two; one syllable to do the work of six. The storm damage has … More Ow! That negatively impacts!
I saw this sentence on an Internet discussion site this week: “I’ve commented in opposition to those comments as an expert in the field they were on before.” Whew. I had to wrestle that sentence to the ground before I could understand it. Once I did, I could see that the information was all there, … More Some re-assembly required