Misused Phrases

Whether you are writing or speaking, the language pitfalls abound. Here a some common ones excerpted by Business Insider:

  1. Adverse means "detrimental." It does not mean "averse" or "disinclined." Correct: "There were adverse effects." / "I'm not averse to doing that."
  2. Appraise means to "ascertain the value of." It does not mean to "apprise" or to "inform." Correct: "I appraised the jewels." / "I apprised him of the situation."
  3. Beg the question means that a statement assumes the truth of what it should be proving; it does not mean to "raise the question." Correct: "When I asked the dealer why I should pay more for the German car, he said I would be getting 'German quality,' but that just begs the question."
  4. Bemused means "bewildered." It does not mean "amused." Correct: "The unnecessarily complex plot left me bemused." / "The silly comedy amused me."
  5. Cliché is a noun, not an adjective. The adjective is clichéd. Correct: "Shakespeare used a lot of clichés." / "The plot was so clichéd."
  6. Data is a plural count noun not, standardly speaking, a mass noun. [Note: "Data is rarely used as a plural today, just as candelabraand agenda long ago ceased to be plurals," Pinker writes. "But I still like it."] Correct: "This datum supports the theory, but many of the other data refute it."
  7. Depreciate means to "decrease in value." It does not mean to "deprecate" or to "disparage." Correct: "My car has depreciated a lot over the years." / "She deprecated his efforts."
  8. Disinterested means "unbiased." It does not mean "uninterested." Correct: "The dispute should be resolved by a disinterested judge." / "Why are you so uninterested in my story?"
  9. Enormity refers to extreme evil. It does not mean "enormousness." [Note: It is acceptable to use it to mean a deplorable enormousness.] Correct: "The enormity of the terrorist bombing brought bystanders to tears." / "The enormousness of the homework assignment required several hours of work."
  10. Hone means to "sharpen." It does not mean to "home in on" or "to converge upon." Correct: "She honed her writing skills." / "We're homing in on a solution."
  11. Hung means "suspended." It does not mean "suspended from the neck until dead." Correct: "I hung the picture on my wall." / "The prisoner was hanged."
  12. Ironic means "uncannily incongruent." It does not mean "inconvenient" or "unfortunate." Correct: "It was ironic that I forgot my textbook on human memory." / "It was unfortunate that I forgot my textbook the night before the quiz."
  13. Nonplussed means "stunned" or "bewildered." It does not mean "bored" or "unimpressed." Correct: "The market crash left the experts nonplussed." / "His market pitch left the investors unimpressed."
  14. Parameter refers to a variable. It not mean "boundary condition" or "limit." Correct: "The forecast is based on parameters like inflation and interest rates." / "We need to work within budgetary limits."
  15. Phenomena is a plural count noun — not a mass noun. Correct: "The phenomenon was intriguing, but it was only one of many phenomena gathered by the telescope."
  16. Shrunk, sprung, stunk, and sunk are past participles--not words in the past tense. Correct: "I've shrunk my shirt." / "I shrank my shirt."
  17. Simplistic means "naively or overly simple." It does not mean "simple" or "pleasingly simple." Correct: "His simplistic answer suggested he wasn't familiar with the material." / "She liked the chair's simple look."
  18. Verbal means "in linguistic form." It does not mean "oral" or "spoken." Correct: "Visual memories last longer than verbal ones."
  19. Effect means "influence"; to effect means "to put into effect"; to affect means either "to influence" or "to fake." Correct: "They had a big effect on my style." / "The law effected changes at the school." / "They affected my style." / "He affected an air of sophistication to impress her parents."
  20. Lie (intransitive: lies, lay, has lain) means to "recline"; lay(transitive: lays, laid, has laid) means to "set down"; lie(intransitive: lies, lied, has lied) means to "fib." Correct: "He lies on the couch all day." / "He lays a book upon the table." / "He lies about what he does."


First Do No Harm

I've never been able to quite articulate this experience I walk around with but I suspect anyone who has lived with trauma might understand it. I have many emotions and at the same time I'm very sensitive to the pain of others. I don't want to impose or somehow make their pain worse so I tend to hide my feelings. As a result, I've struggled with this notion - how can I be the full expression of myself without causing harm? This from the Israeli author Etgar Keret's interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air offers insight:

GROSS: Since your father survived the Holocaust literally in a hole and your mother managed to survive in the Warsaw Ghetto - although her parents did not - when you were growing up as their child, did you think that you weren't allowed to experience pain or sadness because your sadness, your pain couldn't compare? It was like nothing compared to what they experienced as children.

KERET: Well, I felt that I was allowed to experience. But I made an extra effort to hide it from my parents, you know? I think that by reflex I felt that - you know, that they had suffered so much that the least I could do would be not to add to the pain that they've experienced in their lifetime. And I think that there's something about these attitudes - that it also kind of pushed me toward writing because what happened was I kind of had this very strong superego that - you know, it started with my parents. But it continued with the entire society - that I was always very much aware of what people wanted of me. And I didn't want to make them feel unhappy.

But at the same time, there was kind of a very strong id under it that wanted all kind of things that I couldn't express. And fiction suddenly became this place where I could write about all my desires, but nobody would have to pay a price for it. Nobody would be unhappy if I would eat five desserts or punch the people who deserved punching or kiss the people who deserved to be kissed, you know? So there was something very liberating about it, you know? Fiction became this kind of, like, padded cell where I could run and hit my head against the wall without kind of causing any harm - not to the wall and neither to my head.



I write like

I thought this site was interesting. It's a site that analyzes your writing style.  I pasted in two different samples of my writing. An essay I pasted in came up as like Chuck Palahniuk - he's the author of Fight Club.

Another essay I pasted in that was mainly dialog came up as like J.D. Salinger!

There is likely no science involved and is just a great way to make writers feel better, but in any case, I'll take it.



My 8 Mile

Sometimes I just feel like, quitting I still mightWhy do I put up this fight, why do I still write Sometimes it's hard enough just dealing with real life Sometimes I wanna jump on stage and just kill mics And show these people what my level of skill's like But I'm still white, sometimes I just hate life Something ain't right, hit the brake lights Case of the stage fright, drawing a blank like Da-duh-duh-da-da, it ain't my fault Breaking eye balls, my insides crawl and I clam up (wham) I just slam shut



What scares the king of scariness, Stephen King? From a recent NPR Interview:

"So here's the movie that scared me the most in the last 12 or 13 years: The movie opens with a woman in late middle age, sitting at a table and writing a story, and the story goes something like, 'Then the branches creaked in the ...' and she stops and she says to her husband, 'What are those things? I can't think of them. They're in the backyard and they're very tall and birds land on the branches.' And he says, 'Why, Iris, those are trees,' and she says, 'Yes, how silly of me,' and she writes the word and the movie starts. And that's Iris Murdoch and she's suffering the onset of Alzheimer's disease. That's the boogeyman in the closet now. ... I'm afraid of losing my mind."

The Te of Piglet

Animal so shy and small,Dreaming you were Bold and Tall - You hesitate, all sensitive, Waiting for a chance to Live.
Time is swift, it races by; Opportunities are born and die . . . Still you wait and will not try - A bird with wings who dares not rise and fly.
But that You you want to see Is not you, and will never be. No one else will ever do The special things that wait inside of you.
You can be a guiding star, If you make the most of Who You Are. And the sensitivity That you're now ashamed to see Can be developed even more, So you can find the hidden doors To places no one's been before. And the pride you'll feel inside Is not the kind that makes you fall - It's the kind that recognizes The bigness found in being Small.

~ Benjamin Hoff, The Te of Piglet

Are Book Covers a Thing of the Past?

I love books. How they feel, how they smell, and how they look. It's easy to think that digital books or ebooks (what do you call them?) spell the end of the tangible pleasure of a book. To some extent that's true, but where digital excels is visual, so why does the look of a book have to suffer? It doesn't. Cover art is very much alive. I'm happy to see it memorialized by some great blogs and Pinterest boards. What's your favorite book cover?

If You Had a Secure Childhood

"One thing you who had secure or happy childhoods should understand about those of us who did not, we who control our feelings, who avoid conflicts at all costs or seem to seek them, who are hypersensitive, self-critical, compulsive, workaholic, and above all survivors, we're not that way from perversity. And we cannot just relax and let it go. We've learned to cope in ways you never had to." ~ Piers Anthony, Fractal Mode, author's notes