Saturday, January 29, 2011

[Brackets] and (Parentheses)


John asked about the difference between brackets and parentheses. In short, while both enclose interruptions or extra information, the parentheses signify that the author is adding information, while brackets indicate that the editor is adding information. In other words, when I break in on myself, I use parentheses; when I break in on someone else, I use brackets.

First, let’s look at some specifics on brackets.

  • When you are quoting someone and come across an error in spelling or in fact, but want to preserve the original for historical accuracy, placing the italicized word sic in brackets [sic] tells the reader, “Don’t blame me—I know it’s a mistake, but that’s what was in the original.”
  • When you are quoting someone and have to change things such as capitalization, pronoun form, or punctuation to fit your sentence, enclose the change in brackets to show that it’s your doing.
  • If you add some form of emphasis to someone else’s material, such as italics or underlining, you may signify that at the end of the sentence by enclosing it in brackets. [Italics added]

Now let’s look at parentheses.

  • When you add something to your own sentence, such as an explanation, an example, or a definition, use parentheses to enclose it.
  • Use parentheses to enclose numbers or letters that are used in a listing.
    “There are three branches in the federal government: (1) executive;
    (2) legislative; (3) judicial.”
  • Do not overuse parentheses. If you have a large number in a sentence, you are drifting away from the primary focus.


SIDEBAR: A writer has choices when it comes to interrupting his or her own material with a definition or a synonym. You may use parentheses, commas, or dashes.

  • Mitosis (cell division) typically involves four successive stages.
  • Mitosis, cell division, typically involves four successive stages.
  • Mitosis—cell division—typically involves four successive stages.


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hy-phen


Mike from Onaway asked about hyphens on Tuesday’s program this week. Specifically, compound adjectives were the focus. Compounds of all kinds are two or more words joined as a unit. The general rule is, when the compound adjective comes before the noun or substantive that it modifies, use hyphens: a little-appreciated skill; a soon-to-be-married woman. But when the compound adjective comes after the noun or substantive that it modifies, drop the hyphens: a skill little appreciated; a woman soon to be married.

Since local style sheets and practices can sometimes be a bit quirky, I recommend that you consult an unabridged dictionary when possible. Rather than being carved in stone, hyphen rules today tend to focus on eliminating ambiguity. In other words, if leaving a hyphen out will confuse the reader, put one in at will. Writing a small-business owner will make it clear that you are not referring to the height of the proprietor. Using third-world war will clarify that there wasn’t another one after WWII. Spanish-language student indicates that she isn’t from Spain.

Aside from compound adjectives, hyphens have other uses. They may show up in compound nouns: mother-in-law; kilowatt-hour; president-elect. Hyphens are used when a word cannot fit completely on one line in order to signal that there is more to come. Don’t guess; consult a dictionary to learn where breaks are allowed.

Traditionally, hyphens are used with certain numbers:

  • fractions written as words (two-thirds, seven-eighths)
  • the numbers 21 through 99 when written as words (twenty-one, eighty-three)
  • numbers over 99 do not use hyphens unless they contain the numbers just mentioned ( three hundred, but three hundred twenty-seven; five thousand twenty, but five thousand twenty-one)


SIDEBAR: Hyphen, the band


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stormy Weather

Sarah asked about the names that we give to major storms. Among other things, she wondered about the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon. The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory indicates that winds which surpass 74 miles per hour are named by their location:

  • "hurricane (the North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean east of the dateline, or the South Pacific Ocean east of 160E)
  • typhoon (the Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the dateline)
  • severe tropical cyclone (the Southwest Pacific Ocean west of 160E or Southeast Indian Ocean east of 90E)
  • severe cyclonic storm (the North Indian Ocean)
  • tropical cyclone (the Southwest Indian Ocean)”


The etymologies of the words that we use to designate violent storms are interesting.

  • cyclone: from the Greek κύκλος circle (or κυκλῶν moving in a circle, whirling round).
  • hurricane: from the Carib word variously given as huracan and furacan.
  • tornado: may have resulted from a misspelling of the Spanish tronada, ‘thunderstorm,’ modified to reflect the Spanish tornar to turn or return, in order to emphasize the turning winds.
  • typhoon: the Oxford English Dictionary suggests an amalgam of sources leading to different versions: (1) the Urdu ṭūfān, a violent storm of wind and rain; (2) the Arabic ṭāfa, to turn round; (3) the Greek τῡϕῶν, typhon; (4) and the Chinese tai fung, big wind.


SIDEBAR: Stormy Weather



Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com



Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Succulent


Someone who watches the Food Channel too much asked about the word succulent. It owes its existence to two Latin components: succus, which means juicy, and the suffix –ulentus, signifying “full of or abounding in.”

Other well-known words using the -ulent suffix include corpulent, esculent, flatulent, fraudulent, opulent, truculent, turbulent, and virulent.

But as always, it’s the little-known words that fascinate me. Let’s look at just a few, most of which are no longer used.

  • amarulent: full of bitterness
  • bucculent: blubber-cheeked
  • cinerulent: full of ashes
  • crassulent: very fat
  • flocculent: resembling tufts of wool
  • frustulent: full of small pieces
  • jussulent: full of broth
  • lutulent: muddy
  • pisculent: full of fish
  • rorulent: covered with dew
  • temulent: intoxicated


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hearsay


Kelly asked about the word hearsay. It’s apparent that it is the conjunction of two words, hear and say. In colloquial use, hear sometimes precedes (and is combined with) the verbs speak, talk, and tell.

There’ll be a time I hear tell


When all will be well


When God and man will be reconciled

But until men lose their chains


And righteousness reigns


Lord, protect my child

Bob Dylan


Hearsay refers to information that one has heard someone else say—in others words, a case of secondary oral transmission. The word usually carries the implication that what one has heard may not be reliable, that it should be treated as rumor. Thus, it is often expressed as mere hearsay or only hearsay.


Generally speaking , hearsay evidence is not admissible in a court of law, but many exceptions are listed in the sidebar below.


SIDEBAR: Hearsay Evidence [See Rules 802-807]

http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rules.htm


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com



Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.

Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Monday, January 10, 2011

Red-letter Day


Brian asked about the origin of red-letter day. It means a day or date of special significance.

It tracks back to medieval liturgical calendars. The days that commemorated saints’ days or special festivals were literally printed in red ink to make them stand out. Less auspicious or less important days were printed in black ink, and were referred to as black-letter days.

SIDEBAR: Pet Shop Boys: A Red Letter Day


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com



Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Saturday, January 08, 2011

American Dialect Society Word of the Year

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Cry Uncus!


Last Tuesday’s vocabulary quiz on Words to the Wise featured the word unciform, meaning hook-shaped. It is an offshoot of the Latin word uncus, a hook. In turn, that owed its existence to the Greek word ὄγκος (onkos), hook.

In both cases, the words had various applications—everything from a fish hook to a grappling iron to the barb of an arrow to a gruesome device used to drag the corpses of executed criminals along the ground to dump them in the Tiber River.

Many of the words based on those roots are obsolete, but they are interesting and worthy of review.

• aduncate: hooked or bent inward
• inuncate: to hook or entangle
• obuncous: very crooked
• uncate: hook-shaped or furnished with hooks
• unciform: hook-shaped
• uncinariasis: hookworm disease
• uncinate: hooked or furnished with hooks
• uncinus: a hook-shaped process
• uncked: hooked
• uncous: hooked or curved
• uncus: a hook or hook-like process


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


Check out Mike's program-based books here:


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org

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Monday, January 03, 2011

Proud Wounds and Door Panels


The images used to portray a proud person often share the idea of inflation. The proud man sticks out his chest. He is puffed up with pride or bloated or swollen with pride. He believes that he stands out above the rest.

I am speculating, but I think that this stereotype accounts for two other meanings for proud that came up on my last show.

The first one appears in the phrase proud flesh. When there is a gap in a healing wound, granulated tissue forms to bridge the gap. When there is too much of it, it stands out higher than the adjacent tissue. It is often discussed in horses, but it can occur in humans, too. It appeared in the book History of Fovre-footed Beastes by E. Topsell in 1607: “Vsed by Phisitians for taking downe of proud swelling wounds.”

Second, door panels can be proud. These are panels that protrude, that are raised, rather than sit flush with the frame. Traditional doors often have the panels proud. It can pertain to drawer fronts, too, as attested by the description from an antique dealer: “French-style side or wine table. Solid timber frame and drawer fronts, with single proud panel-front drawer with cast iron pull.”


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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