The assassin’s shot that sparked "the war to end all wars” was fired 100 years ago in June, and four years of fighting gave rise, as wars tend to do, to many words that have stuck with us: shell shock, cushy, tank, trench coat, ack-ack, and more.
The American Dialect Society and the Linguistic Society of America will set up shop at the Minneapolis Hilton next week and discuss some fascinating minutiae in language. Members of the ADS will start with a talk Thursday on "The Canadian short vowels in motion" and end on Saturday with "Regional differences in tolerance for contraction." LSA members can hear about such topics as "The bilabial trill in Port Sandwich (Vanuatu) in 1774."
When a word is hyphenated across lines of text, the break traditionally comes at a syllable boundary. Most dictionaries indicate these breaks with a symbol, usually a boldface, centered bullet (•). This symbol indicates potential break points: some dictionaries show all syllable breaks; others show only those allowed by conventional style standards. (For example, most style guides dictate that a single letter cannot be stranded.)
“You have spelled practise inconsistently.” It’s a comment I see from at least one technical reviewer on every textbook I edit.
While it’s not inconsistent, I agree that the Canadian/British distinction between practice and practise is a needless layer of complexity. And, it’s a distinction I need to check every time. I’ve memorized the difference between affect and effect — being primarily a science editor, this comes up a lot — but for practi(c/s)e, I rely on a sticky note on my monitor.