Friday, May 2, 2008

the expert can goof

Well the expert goofs, but being an expert catches it -- right after she saves it!! (or she's sly, trying to make you see such errors) Did you catch it? There was a phrase put in the wrong place, so it sounds as if I'm writing about a dictionary with d's and t's in between vowels (as in seating and seeding), but I'm talking about those letters in words in the dictionary. If you didn't catch it, be warned!! You don't want to do that. It brands you as a poor communicator!!!!

Tip for today: to avoid using a d for a t or vice versa, often a related word is your clue.
You know it should be batter, not badder, because a batter is one who bats. You know it should be sitting not sidding because you sit, so, in adding the ing ending, you still use t. It's a wedding if people wed, but it's a wetting agent if it gets something wet. Wherever possible, and admittedly, it's not always possible, think of the word within the word. Sorry, but for words like lady and city that don't have related words, you're just have to go back and memorize them.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Beware!! Rampant misuse of English

I teach in what is supposed to be a selective college, maybe not the Ivy League, but consistently ranked 1 or 2 after them in the Northeast. Reading the papers of my students leads me to one conclusion: literacy is dying out!! These kids know movies and TV the way my generation knew literature and history. However, they don't know squat about the great world of books, and their writing skills can only be characterized as illiterate. So-o-o, let's go: a lesson every day or so. And, send me your questions. I'll answer them. Why trust me? Well, I have a Ph.D. from an Ivy League school in Linguistics and my specialty is the English Language, how it developed, how it works, and who is saying what. I know about the dialects of American English, not from random observation but from careful study of speech collected scientifically from people of all walks of life all over the USA. I know how the language works from analyzing reams of speech and writing from a wide variety of sources. I won't just tell you about the kinds of do's and don'ts your typical English teacher preaches -- or the nonsense in most of the books on how to write and speak that you can buy. I will, however, show you what errors are being made wholesale and why they're errors and how they can harm your reputation if you make them. I base my recommendations on all those errors I get from students -- and in business communications.

Lesson 1: I shudder at shutters

In American English, t and d in between vowels are pronounced identically. So, betting and bed So long as people read a lot and were familiar with the printed word, this caused no problem, but now? I get spellings like norodic for neurotic, and shudders (on a house) instead of shutters. In fact, wherever a t belongs, most students will spell it with a d. I've even gotten cidy and priddy for city and pretty. How do mistakes like those look on a job application. be aware whenever you write of those pesky d's and t's. CHECK EVERY WORD in a GOOD DICTIONARY THAT HAS A d or t in beween vowels, AND USE THE CORRECT LETTER.