Who talks like that?

We’re told to write the way people talk, which is fine if you hang around people who talk in clear, complete sentences free of stuffiness and jargon. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who don’t talk like that. It’s especially true when they are speaking in a professional capacity and want to sound authoritative. That’s … More Who talks like that?

Riding and writing

My internal copy editor picks strange times to interrupt the rest of my brain. The other day I was looking at a discussion of why members of a particular discussion group seemed to be abandoning their usual politeness and hurling invective at one another. One person suggested that “the need to not be an arsehole … More Riding and writing


Over time, English tends to mash words together into bigger words. “Baseball” used to be “base ball.” We got “toothbrush” the same way. Also “nevertheless” and “commonwealth” and “cheesecake.” You’ll rarely see more than two or three words mashed together in everyday English. Elementary school kids who like to show off their word skills often … More Rhababerbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbar

Original thinking

“Avoid clichés” isn’t very good advice by itself. First, it doesn’t explain why we should avoid them. Second, it doesn’t tell us how to do it. So today let’s turn the advice into something useful. Clichés are trite, worn-out expressions. Quite often they are very good, colorful turns of phrase. A mouse can be extremely … More Original thinking