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The Word Guy - ArcaMax Publishing



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Should You Clutch Possessives With Both Hands?

Jan/17/2018

Q. I've long been bothered by the use of the possessive when yoked with "of," e.g., "Rob is a friend of Amy's." Why wouldn't we just say, "Rob is a friend of Amy"? Or even better: "Rob is Amy's friend." -- Amy Robinson, Hartford A. Rob is ...





Metaphoric 'Bow Wave' Makes Waves

Jan/10/2018

In a recent interview, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster told PBS Newshour anchor Judy Woodruff that the Trump administration had increased the defense budget to address "a bow wave of deferred military modernization." Hmmm ... a naval ...





Word Guy Confesses to Being 'Noddy'

Jan/03/2018

"Even Homer nods," wrote a reader this past year after gently pointing out an error in one of my columns. In this nod to Homer, he was quoting the Roman poet Horace's forgiving response upon noticing that a character who had been killed off ...





British Compressions Lead to 'Bedlam'

Dec/27/2017

We often think of the Brits as being "veddy, veddy" precise in their pronunciation. But, truth be told, they gleefully lop entire syllables from words, pronouncing "immediately" as "meejutly" and "necessary" as "nessree." I was first gobsmacked...





Trendy Words Eclipsed Eloquence in 2017

Dec/20/2017

This past year's language was a fright! We traded barbs from left and right. Insults, jeers and accusations, Eloquence was on vacation. Media buzzwords sang like Latifah: "Narrative," "pivot," "alt-right," "antifa." Widespread "harassment"...





Pronunciation Causes 'Utter' Confusion

Dec/13/2017

Pronunciation can be controversial and divisive. Phonology fanatics both lam-BAYST and lam-BAST their opponents, throw both tuh-MAY-tohs and tuh-MAH-tohs at them, and even threaten them with both HAHM-i-side and HOHM-i-side. Aptly enough, even ...





Coming to Terms with U.S. History

Dec/06/2017

You can learn a lot about American history not only by studying wars, treaties and laws but also by examining its words. Do you know, for instance, why opponents of Andrew Jackson called themselves "Whigs"? Why the Republican Party was first ...





Are You Booked for the Holidays?

Nov/29/2017

Put some schoolin' in your yule-in' this holiday season with one of these new books about words and language. "Breezy" and "entertaining" aren't words usually associated with grammar, but they aptly describe "Making Sense -- The Glamorous Story...





A Different Kind of Great Divide

Nov/22/2017

During the past few decades, our nation has been ripped in two by extreme partisanship. One side blasts the other as "bleeding hearts," "permissivists," "panderers." The other side calls its opponents "reactionaries," "protectionists" and "...





I Now Pronounce You Mangled by Kyff

Nov/15/2017

Here's a pronunciation quiz I'd fail miserably. That's because it comprises eight words I've always mispronounced. Can you show up the Word Guy by choosing the correct pronunciation? 1. fungi -- A. FUN-guy (hard "g") B. FUN-juy (soft "g") 2. ...