June 24, 2008  •  Dyske


One of our regular contributors, porsche, informed me that submitting a comment redirects you to Microsoft’s website. Sorry about that. I keep track of the IP addresses of Spammers, and I send all the spammers to Microsoft’s website. I recently moved the site to a different server, and the new server was returning the same IP address for everyone, and I ended up listing that IP address as a Spammer’s. And, so the site considered everyone who commented as a Spammer. That’s what happened. But that’s a long, boring, technical story, and what matters is that it’s working fine now. Thank you, porsche, for informing me of this problem. If anyone ever experience any problems like this on this site, please let me know.

April 17, 2008  •  Rob

Inch vs. Inches

I’m editing a technical manual. The engineers I’m working with have regularly typed amounts which are under one as “.05 inches” or “.67 inches.” I’ve been of the opinion that this is to be typed “.05 inch” and “.67 inch,” as the amounts are less than one, but I can’t find anything to support either opinion. Please advise.

September 18, 2007  •  ben

Orally Aural. Oh Really?

I suppose these questions are frequently preceded by an argument between one regarded as a pedant and another who is one secretly. I’m the pedant. Are these words pronounced so similarly as to be only identifiable by their context? For instance ‘a dentist works orally’ or ‘I am to give an oral presentation.’ This can lead to ambiguity (if they are pronounced the same): ‘I can only learn a language aurally/orally.’

May 30, 2007  •  juttin

I seek a word that means “more than daily.”

The closest word I can think of is “semi-daily,” but that is too specific. I’d prefer to describe, using a single word, the frequency of a particular event that happens more than once per day, although the number times is not significant and is not always the same. If this is a rare opportunity for someone to make up a word, I welcome a suitable word from someone who is more qualified than I to create such a word. Any ideas?

November 22, 2006  •  j

What is the term used...

... to describe a phrase where all words begin with the same letter? Sally sells seashells at the sea shore..

November 7, 2006  •  heather

injecting swear words

Does anybody know if there’s a term for inserting a word in to another word, particularly swear words? For example: Fam-damn-ily, or Ri-goddamn-diculous? My roommate and I have scoured all of our grammar books and literary dictionaries, but to no avail. Any thoughts?

June 20, 2006  •  jr

Word for a word with no rhyme?

There are many words in the English language which allegedly have no rhyme. I was wondering if there is a term to denote rhyme-less words (i.e. orange, silver...)?

June 7, 2006  •  duke

Word for unconscious vital process?

Is there a word or phrase that describes a vital process that is necessary to maintain a system or operation but is seldom thought about or considered. For instance, the heart pumps blood but a healthy person doesn’t necessarily think about it as he/she goes about doing things.

May 24, 2006  •  guyadams

Interpreting “beyond that already extended”

I have run into a slight dispute at work regarding the following statement and the context is travel insurance. “The company will not reimburse for any additional cover beyond that already extended” There then follows a short list of 3 or 4 items such as health insurance, life cover, baggage. 1. I interpreted the statement as follows: The company would not reimburse for cover that was additional in the specific categories already noted. For example increasing the amount of life cover would be such a case where no reimbursement would be paid. However I interpreted the statement as meaning that if the requested reimbursement was for insurance that was not in one of these noted areas i.e. had not already been ‘extended’ then a claim would be valid. In hindsight I feel that I have used the ability to possibly twist the interpretation into a situation where a modest claim for personal liability insurance cover of £70 (which was not a listed item) will be rejected. 2. 2 colleagues thought that the meaning was simple - no reimbursement for ANY additional cover. I can see this point but if that was what was intended why did the statement not just read ‘ The company will not reimburse any additional cover’? Any ideas or somewhere where I can gather some opinions? BTW I am more interested in the principal and ensuring the correct wording for others in future than the actual claim.

April 7, 2006  •  manuia


Responding to an old post (see below) I was under the impression that there were several kinds of Persian: Farsi, Dari, etc. If we use the word Persian, how does someone know to which one we are referrring? I have seen it written as Persian (Farsi) to make that clear. Is there a cultural reason why Persian is preferable? Khodadad Rezakhani Mar-19-03 3:28AM Something I want to ask you to bring into attention. English has its own names for other languages: Eliniki is called Greek, Deutsch is German, and so on. About the name of the language of Iran: the English name is Persian, a correct name based on the rules of English. However, there has been a wide use of the word Farsi in main stream media (and even the computer world). Farsi is the local name for the language, and as we don’t say “I speak Espanol” when conversing in English, we shan’t say Farsi either. Please point out this matter in your weblog.

March 13, 2006  •  tim


Why is it that drug addiction is referred to as ‘dependency’ and not ‘dependence’? I realize it’s a synonym but it seems like an unnecessary one. No one ever uses the word ‘independency’

March 6, 2006  •  elledee

What is the word for intentionally incorrect spelling?

You know when people or businesses use improper spelling for effect? eg. “Rogz for Dogz” or “Phantasy Star” What is that called? I simply can’t find the answer anywhere.

February 15, 2006  •  mikegreen

Should you sign the copy of a letter

If you have cc’s in a letter, when you mail it, should the “copy” be signed?

February 2, 2006  •  lenga

Are there diffferent types of latin?

Why are latin expressions written differently in English and in French? Example: “ne plus ultra” in English is “nec plus ultra” in French.

January 2, 2006  •  jon

Pronunciation: aunt

I’m not sure if we can ask pronunciation questions here. Well, I’d like to know the correct way to pronounce “aunt,” whether it’s closer to “ant” or “ont.” When you answer, please say where you’re from. I’m curious if it’s an American vs British English thing. In Western Canada we say “ant.”

November 29, 2005  •  ellei

Is it a colloquial form?

Can anybody tell me which is the literal meaning of the following words taken from a Dylan’s song? “a hard rain’s a-gonna fall” It is the “a” before “gonna” not clear at all.

October 31, 2005  •  silje

Steak - correct pronunciation

Is it possible to pronounce steak as the /ea/ in weak is pronounced? Or should it always be pronounced as the /a/ in bake? I’m from Norway, and we’we got steakhouses here, it’s no word for this in Norwegian. So when people pronounce this as the /ea/ in weak, is this incorrect, or is this possible in English too? Thanks in advance. Silje

October 3, 2005  •  marta

Wanna know what it coulda be...

Does anybody know what’s the lingustic term for the words like “wanna”, “gonna”, “outta”, “kinda” etc? Once I heard them being termed as “clitics” but I’m not sure if this term is really used in linguistic circles. So far I’ve come across the words like: gonna, wanna, outta, gotta, hefta (for “have to”), coulda, woulda, shoulda, needa, lotsa (”lot of”), kinda (”kind of”), betcha (”I bet you...”), gotcha (”got you”), supposta (”supposed to”) and also cuppa :) Any other ideas?

October 2, 2005  •  richardcaburet


Why is w pronounced double u, but m is not pronounced double n?

September 29, 2005  •  steve

Spell checkers

You folks could probably answer this question better than anyone else I can think of. Is there any evidence that computer spell checkers help improve peoples’ unaided spelling skills? I ask because I believe it has helped mine. The immediate feedback offered as I type on a word processor seems to break any tendency I might have to start spelling certain words wrong all of the time. No doubt there are educators, psychologists, and others who would argue that a spell checker makes us lazy and without the spell checker on the system we would soon regress to our primitive spelling roots. Maybe they’re right and my improved spelling is just a figment of my imagination, or perhaps a natural tendency that would have happened anyway after many years of writing.

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