Thursday, August 21, 2008

Parvum Opus 290 ~ Unrecovery


Another file exploded yesterday so I reinstalled Windows Office. Hope it helps. Bits of Word document guts and brains are stuck all over the typewriter keys. What a mess. Right now I’m wearing protective clothing as I type. The “recovered text” was no good, but I did find some deleted notes in the recycle file (or redemption file or reformation file, which I hear are new terms in the Green catechism). I’m saving every 60 seconds with different file names and in different places, on the hard drive and online (Yahoo Briefcase). Another good suggestion is to mail a file to oneself.

Editing Etiquette

An editor wrote to Miss Manners about the etiquette problem that plagues us all: what to do about spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in signs in public places. Fortunately, the tact that prevents us from correcting individuals does not apply to places of business, where the owners presumably want to make a good impression.

Shakespeare Daily Insult

[Thine] horrid image doth unfix my hair. ~ from Macbeth

That explains the snakes. It’s a vicious circle (or a viscous circle, as someone once wrote).

As Far As

“I was very interested as far as changing my career.”

The several problems with the “as far as” blunder are clear in this quotation from the newspaper. First, the speaker omitted the end of that phrase, which should be “as far as changing my career goes” although that would have a slightly different meaning, suggesting the speaker was interested in something else related to the career change. Second, she used the half-phrase as a preposition, a substitute for the simple “in”, which is all she needed after “interested”. Third, what she said is probably not what she meant, and meaning is what we’re all about: “ far as changing my career” ~ but no further? People seem to use this truncated phrase to mean something like “the subject of” but the whole phrase means “to this extent”.

OINY Issues

From Overheard in New York (which we will pronounce “oiny”):

||| Conductor: This train will not be going to South Ferry, due to issues with the problem.

||| Tween girl looking at internment camp exhibit: Mom, what's an internment camp?

Mother: Umm... I think it's, like, a place where you go when you get a job as an intern. ~ International Center of Photography Museum

Watch Out for Segways

Thanks to Pat S. for reminding me of the annual Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest.

From the B-L site I found a good article by crime novelist Elmore Leonard on writing, part of a New York Times series “Writers on Writing”. Also worth reading regarding censorship: “What Do You Call a Terror(Jihad)ist?” by P. W. Singer and Elina Noor in the New York Times and “A Festival of Grovelling to Terrorists” by Mick Hume in Times Online (different Times, UK), about self-censorship. (Note the double L in grovelling, a British spelling.)

South Africa Gets Funny

Since South Africa has gotten politically correct, some black South African comedians fed up with the “gendered” and “othering” speak are doing tough comedy. Rian Milan wrote about it in the Wall Street Journal.

About “gendered”: I guess it means outward sexual presentation, which one can choose, as opposed to “sexed”, which means “determined the sex” of a baby chick or something useful like that. Although I did know a young woman who used it to mean carnal activity, as in, “And then we sexed.” In Newspeak, not only do people get to decide on their gender, they can denounce other people who use the “wrong” pronouns. I still don’t think a woman who has a partial sex change (hormones, no major surgery) and then gets pregnant is a man. Real men don’t get pregnant.

So I guess I’m guilty of Othering.

Can You Spot the Difference?

||| Appraise and apprise are not the same. Appraise means to estimate the value. Apprise means to inform.

According to, per Webster 1913, “In the United States, [appraise] is often pronounced, and sometimes written, apprize.” My advice is not to do either.

Recently, though, I heard travails pronounced tra-vies. The speaker may have been laboring for an assumed French pronunciation, but it should be tra-vail, with the long A and the L on the end, although the stress may be on either syllable.

||| Grandiose and grand are not exactly the same. They both mean great and imposing, but grandiose has the additional sense of pompous and pretentious, so it should be avoided as a synonym of grand.


We should not require song lyrics to be logical, but after seeing several “Imagine” bumper stickers, referring to John Lennon’s song, I started to extrapolate from “Nothing to kill or die for, no religion too”. People with no religion love that song, but let’s think about no money, no land, no water, no enriched uranium, or any of the other things people fight over on the macro level, and on the micro level, no love (well, people don’t really fight for love, it’s really for lust and jealousy) or no revenge or no respect. And on both levels, no survival instinct.

Why Newspapers Fold

We get the daily newspaper delivered, and I always look through at least a few sections: check out the front page and the editorials, read the advice columns and some of the comics. But here’s one example of why newspapers everywhere are failing. On the front page, a 1-1/2 inch wide column is devoted to highlighting some of the stories inside, a sort of annotated table of contents. Recently, the top of the column previewed a story that would be in the next day’s paper about what has changed in school supplies in the last 25 years, and there was a photo too. It’s not news, it’s not a gripping or important feature, and it doesn’t deserve almost 4 inches of front-page space. The editors decided that in the entire world, there was nothing more newsworthy to put in that space.

The top half of the front page has traditionally been reserved for the most important headline stories, because it’s visible when stacked at newsstands, hence the expression “above the fold”. The big above-the-fold front page stories on the school-supplies day were about tennis, the lottery, and the uneven distribution of fire companies in the city. On that day beneath the school supplies story, it said that Alexander Solzhenitsyn died, see page 10, no photos anywhere. I’ll look the story up online.

Cincinnati’s other major newspaper closed on New Year’s, so this remaining paper doesn’t have any competition. I like newspapers the way I like books: the format is familiar, comfortable, lightweight, quiet, portable, and cheap; it doesn’t require a power source; it’s safe to take on planes and you can write on it. Electronic formats don’t have to replace paper entirely, and I hope they won’t, but it looks like the papers might be doing themselves in.


Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Back issues from December 2002 may be found at Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please e-mail, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2008. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.

No comments: