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Preview: The Word Guy - ArcaMax Publishing

The Word Guy - ArcaMax Publishing

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Copyright: Copyright 2016 ArcaMax Publishing

Jolly Mondegreen Giant Sleeps in Heavenly Peas


"He's making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's not eating nice." Bill Hoelzel sent me this charming rendering of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" by his 3-year-old grandson. It's one of many delightful responses I received to my...

New Word Books Deserve a Kiss


"A kiss can be a comma, a question mark, or an exclamation point." If you find yourself standing under the mistletoe this holiday season, keep that punctuational maxim in mind. It comes from the French actress and singer Mistinguett and appears...

When 'Should'a' Contraction Be Used?


Could'a, would'a, should'a. We know it's OK to use contractions in speech, but when should they be used in writing? Until the early 20th century, most teachers treated contractions like cockroaches scuttling and hissing through students' ...

The Immortal Voice of Elephants Gerald


Mistakes of the ear can bring us cheer! A few days after a music teacher told her students that her favorite singer was Ella Fitzgerald, she gave her class a quiz with this extra-credit question: "Who is Ms. Smith's favorite singer?" One ...

Hurtling Past Linguistic Hurdles


Today I confront five of my linguistic bugaboos -- usage choices that perplex me every time I encounter them. --Hurtle or hurdle? Perhaps because my good friend in high school hurdled (jumped) over hurdles as he hurtled (sped) down the track, I...

'Gussy Up' for a Walk on the 'Shore'line


"The world needs to shore up assistance for impoverished countries." "The University of California has moved to shore up the security for its computer network." "Europe's central bank is trying to shore up the economy. As these sentences from ...

Try the Flaming House Specialty


Today, we present "the dirty dozen" -- 12 errors that readers have spotted in newspapers and magazines: 1. "Designed to immolate a craftsman-style farmhouse, The National Tavern is warm and welcoming." I'll bet it's warm! (submitted by Larry ...

Have Fun With This QU I--Z


I recently challenged you with a quiz on frequently-confused words, based on a list compiled by Bob Barton of Farmington, Conn. That quiz comprised words from the first half of the alphabet, and many of you have asked for more. So here's a ...

'Media' Says 'Underway' Is 'Alright'?


Faithful reader Leo Rockas rocked me recently when he emailed me three challenging questions: When did "under way" become one word? When did "media" become singular? When did "all right" become "alright"? --underway/under way: Traditionally, ...

Meanings Meander Through History


We think of words as immutable -- sturdy bricks with permanent meanings that we can interlock to build solid walls of clarity. Phrases such as "I give you my word" reflect our faith in unchanging definitions. But in fact, words are more like ...