Monthly Archives: October 2017

Discreet vs. Discrete

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Will she be discreet?

These two words are pronounced identically and are commonly mistaken for each other.

DISCREET means circumspect, prudent, careful. If you are discreet, you will avoid gossiping or criticizing others. You try to avoid embarrassing others. Roger promised he would be discreet after his best friend told him he was thinking of divorcing his fourth wife.

DISCRETE means singular, unconnected, separate. Academy Awards are given in multiple discrete categories.

 

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Final Insults From Famous People

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Some people are so clever. Enjoy these. Again, my thanks to Nicki N.
“In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.”  
Charles, Count Talleyrand
“He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.”  —Forrest Tucker
“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?”  
—Mark Twain
 
“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”  —Mae West
 “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”  
Oscar Wilde
“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.”  —Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.”  —Billy Wilder
 “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening.  But I’m afraid this wasn’t it.”  
Groucho Marx

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Yet More Insults

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“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.”  -George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
 
“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one.”  -Winston Churchill, in response
 “I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.”  -Stephen Bishop
“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.”  -John Bright
 “I’ve just learned about his illness.  Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.”  -Irvin S. Cobb
 “He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.”  -Samuel Johnson
“He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.”  – Paul Keating

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More Insults From Famous People

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Hemingway, no dictionary in sight
Again, my thanks (and yours, I hope) to Nicki:
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”  -William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
 “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.”  
-Moses Hadas
 “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”  
-Mark Twain
 “He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.”  -Oscar Wilde

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Insults From Famous People

From my friend Nicki, here are some insults from famous people. Oh, the power of words!

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.” “That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”

“He had delusions of adequacy .” -Walter Kerr (theater critic)

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” -Clarence Darrow

Stay tuned for more.

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Editing Goes Beyond Proofreading

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Surely you know how often I urge you to proofread everything you write. Proofreading will turn up careless errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as typos. Yes, you should still check for all of these, but editing goes beyond that.

Editing makes certain your writing is clear. Are you sure you are conveying the message you intended? Have you assumed your readers know what you know? If so, then why are you writing? You are imparting new information. But you have to be confident you are not confusing your readers, that your information that is new to them is presented logically and cogently.

Editing makes certain your writing is concise. Look for digressions and extraneous words. Get rid of redundancies: last but not least, at this point in time, absolutely complete, true fact, four P.M. in the afternoon, new innovation, blue in color, exactly identical, etc.

I have noticed that when I edit and change wording or move things around, when I then reread what I’ve written I often find I have left a word out or need to remove a word I had inadvertently left in when I revised. This is the time to read your text out loud (quietly, but still audible to you) and one. word. at. a. time. That way you will send your document out without embarrassing glitches. If you read at your normal silent speed, you will very likely speed over them.

Remember, revise comes from the Latin, to see again. 

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Hanged vs. Hung

 

One of my favorite programs is “The Great British Baking Show.” In an early season, a show photographer caught this image of a squirrel on the grounds where the program is shot. (The contestants often use nuts in their recipes, and this photo does indicate a squirrel that is definitely well hung. But I digress.)

My husband and I hung some of my paintings today. Since everything I do makes me think of language, of course I thought of the difference between hanged and hung, two words that are frequently used interchangeably and incorrectly. I originally wrote this post over four years ago, without the squirrel, so I thought I’d do a rerun. Here’s the scoop:

HANGED is used for executions or suicide:  “The criminal was hanged.”  Sometimes you see “hanged to death” along with “strangled to death” and “starved to death.”  Those are all redundancies.  If you’re hanged, strangled or starved, you are dead.

HUNG is used for decor:  “Angela hung the picture of the well hung model on her bedroom wall.”

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