Every copy editor and logophile will, from time to time, get roped into an argument about what the word decimate means and how it should be used. Etymological purists get upset when they find the word being used to indicate any general drastic reduction in the size of something. The exact size of the reduction, these purists argue, is inherent in the word itself: decimate stems from the Latin root decem, for the number ten, so the word must mean "to reduce in size by ten percent."
The Associated Press Stylebook has added to its burgeoning entry on global warming (now 261 words), counseling against the use of skeptics and deniers when talking about those who don’t think global warming is such a big deal or say that we can’t really do much about it.
The way we torture ourselves with lay and lie is one of the great puzzles of the English language. We use different versions of the word depending on tense and whether there is an object we’re acting upon.
It was last month that the lamentations began: “I can’t believe summer is almost over.” Now that it is September and 84 degrees in central Ohio, many look to Labor Day weekend as the last hurrah of summer.
That has more to do with the school schedule than climate. For astronomers, summer stretches between the equinoxes, vernal and autumnal. For those in the northern hemisphere, which includes central Ohio, that means we don’t need to stop calling it summer until Sept. 23, at 8:20 a.m. to be specific.
Moneys and monies are plural forms of the word money, which already acts as a plural itself. The -ys or -ies spelling depends on your stylebook or your personal preference, but it isn’t common that you need to use either. Usually, money is all you need.
Authors and digital publishers who have looked to Colborne Communications for editing, design and project management can now mount funding campaigns with it, too. This week, Toronto-based Colborne announced it will acquire Pubslush, a book-oriented crowdfunding company.
I think all editors, at some point in their careers, go through a "Grammar Police" phase during which they offer unsolicited (and sometimes unsubstantiated) advice about how to "correctly" use a particular phrase, pronounce a particular word, or use a particular idiom. I know I did. It's an annoying phase — not for the editors, but for everyone around them — and one hopes they grow out of it quickly.
Assent and ascent are two soundalike words that are just uncommon enough that we might stumble over the spellings. The sc combination in the one that involves climbing mimics the first two letters of scale, which as a verb means to climb something. The words ascent and scale are ultimately related through the Latin scandere, to climb.
To give your assent means you are agreeable. Assent is an indication that you are going along with the plan, and not being a stubborn ass.