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Crevasse is clearly a French word that means, pretty much, a big crevice. We’re most likely to find a crevasse in a glacier, because that’s where it gained a foothold in English.
Both words come from the word crevace, which English borrowed from French in the 14th century. Crevace became crevice in English and crevasse in French. Climbers used the French word as they hiked around Switzerland, avoiding deep fissures and chasms in the Alpine ice.
Crevasse didn’t reach English until the early 19th century, according to the citations in the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED’s earliest citations, in 1814 in 1819, refer to breaches in the levees of Louisiana. “A breach...Read More »
Canadianizing a text often means converting measurements to the metric system. But it’s not as simple as plugging “6 ft to m” into Google. Converters are accurate, but they’re more like transliterations than translations.
First, outside of technical materials, measurements are usually imprecise. It’s often more appropriate to round a conversion. Six feet becomes two metres, not 1.83 m.
Second, Canadian’s wouldn’t talk about a person’s height in terms of metres. Lumber, too, is always measured in feet and inches. I’m not sure why. A legacy thing maybe? But since carpenters literally keep roofs over our heads, I’ve always acquiesced.
Soft and hard conversions are what I’m talking about in the first point. According to ...Read More »
I saw a tenents of our core business in an item I was editing the other day, drawing a compromise between tenets and the often-misapplied tenants. Or perhaps simply resurrecting a perfectly good word from Latin.
What the writer was going for was tenets, a principle of belief. It’s often rendered as the more familiar word tenants, people who rent property. Tenants for tenets seems almost rampant. President Obama has pronounced the nonexistent n at least twice in major speeches. Libertarian political commentator Wayne Allyn Root attacked Obama in a recent...Read More »
Featured Topic: Word Trouble
This week’s News Roundup focuses on word troubles: words we can’t translate, words we borrow and loan, and old words with a new but controversial life.
- “Is Any Word Untranslatable?”: The answer might depend on what you want the final translation to be. (The Guardian)
- “Does English Still Borrow Words from Other Languages?”: One reason English is so rich is that it liberally borrows words from other languages. Are we still doing that? (BBC News Magazine)
- “Some Words Are(n’t) Better Than Others”: Those hip new words that bother you so? They...
BuzzFeed, a popular news and entertainment website that shares breaking news and viral content, made its style guide free and available on the Web today.Read More »
One of the language newsletters I read has a feature that gives quick lessons on usage problems. The feature is often informative, reminding readers of the difference between loath (an adjective) and loathe (a verb) or that descend doesn’t need to be followed by down.
But once in a while, the feature baffles me, as with this recent (paraphrased) lesson:
Don’t use social to mean “sociable.”
According to the newsletter, social means “living together in communities; relating to human society,” while sociable means “to be with others; gregarious.”
This was news to me. I thought social also meant “to be with others; gregarious.”
As all good copyeditors should...Read More »
The University of California, Irvine (UCI) is seeking a university editor to lead its General Catalogue team in the registrar department. UCI, a research university in southern California, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015. It has 28,000 students and 10,500 faculty and staff.
The university editor is responsible for the overall production, including content and format, of the General Catalogue. Responsibilities include recruiting, hiring, training, and managing staff; coordinating and...Read More »
The style guide you have been using the longest may seem superior to all others. It's possible to assume the "rules" for your style guide are basic tenets of the English language.
Of course, if the English language had a universally accepted rulebook, we wouldn't have style guides.
My first Associated Press Stylebook was a 1976 edition acquired in 1979 when I started high school. I read every entry. I didn’t memorize it, but I at least knew where to look up whatever question I had. Over time, my knowledge of the book diminished rather than increased. They kept changing it on me. That which I thought was law proved to be just opinion subject to change.
You are entitled to have your favorite style guide, but some cautionary advice: Don’t hold up one...Read More »
Whether the material in front of you is so engaging that you forget to use your Editor’s Eye, or you can’t see it straight anymore after seeing it a hundred times, there are occasions when we all could use some strategies to make it to the end of the manuscript.
1. Have the computer read the page aloud.
This is the tech twist on the “pair reading” strategy used by proofreaders. It activates the listening part of your brain, and makes you interpret the words anew. And the computer won’t skip a single word or fill in any missing ones. Macs have this feature built into the accessibility options, Acrobat will do it for PDFs too. Look for “speech” in the system preferences....Read More »
Earlier this week, the American Copy Editors Society hosted a Twitter chat about its upcoming annual conference. In addition to reinforcing why you should attend (training, networking), there were tips on how to make the most of your conference.
For those times when you want to attend simultaneous sessions, our own Dawn McIlvain Stahl (@PurplePenning) suggested befriending someone going to another session and sharing notes or following someone who’s live tweeting one of the sessions. Board members Merrill Perlman (@meperl) and Andy Bechtel (@andybechtel) note that session hopping is another good way...Read More »