Factorial – April 2011

Writing for people who don’t read

One of the challenges in writing today is that most of us are bombarded by so much stuff that we don’t read much of it carefully. If we’re reading online, information needs to be easy to find and digest or we move on. I am as guilty as the next person. The only time I really savour words is when I am reading a novel or an article that has captured my attention. The boring stuff I scan or chuck in the recycling bin.

This topic has come to my attention for two reasons. I was told off this week for not confirming an appointment. This instruction was given in a little piece of paper attached to the top of a letter. I hadn’t read it because the appointment was in my diary and I planned to read the letter just before the appointment. Why waste time reading something boring twice?

The second reason is that I am trying to think of the ‘right’ word to encourage people to use the online writing programs I’m developing. I want people to read and act on this word!

Researching online, the choices seem to be Get started, Enrol, Register and Sign up. I wonder if there are generational differences in word choices. What’s your preference? Would you enrol, register, get started or sign up for a grammar program? Email mary@themfactor.com.au
 
What distinguishes good writing from bad writing?

The www.grammar.about.com offers advice from 10 writers. In brief:

1. Don’t expect writing to be easy. (Aubrey Kalitera)
2. Master the fundamentals. (Stephen King)
3. Say what you think. (Walter Benjamin)
4. Reach for the best word. (Ernest Gowers)
5. Order your words. (Cicero)
6. Attend to the details. (Clive James)
7. Don’t fake it. (Paul Goodman)
8. Know when to quit. (William Carlos Williams)
9. Lean on editors. (Gardner Botsford)
10. Dare to be bad. (Julia Cameron)

Read the full article at
http://grammar.about.com/od/advicefromthepros/f/goodwritersandbad.htm?nl=1  

Integrious

A while ago a reader asked me for an adjective to describe the virtue of integrity. I couldn’t think of one. Apparently, moves are afoot to make the word integrious stick. It sounds ugly to me.

www.integriousproject.com  
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_adjective_form_of_integrity  

Tip of your tongue

If you can’t quite remember a word and it’s bugging you, try remembering it with the help of http://chir.ag/projects/tip-of-my-tongue/

Articles recommended by readers

Quit leveraging your dialogue
Journalist Tracey Spicer looks at some of the latest corporate-speak, such as:
• Unpacking issues
• Cutting edge
• Operationalisation (Kevin Rudd)
• Sustainability
• Leveraged
• Impact
• Liaison

What are your favourite weasel words?
http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/quit-leveraging-your-dialouge  

What Happens in Vagueness Stays in Vagueness
Speechwriter Clark Whelton first noticed Vagueness in the 1980s. It’s a linguistic virus that has infected the English language and its symptoms include ‘like’ and ‘you know’. (‘So I’m like, “Want to, like, see a movie?” And he goes, “No way.” And I go …’).

Be entertained by the article at
http://www.city-journal.org/2011/21_1_snd-american-english.html  

OK
Last month I wrote about the word OK and a reader sent me a link to another article on the topic:
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/503/what-does-ok-stand-for  

Pet peeves section

A reader’s pet peeve this month is apostrophes in plurals – DVD’s and CD’s, instead of DVDs and CDs. Borders committed this crime in an e-newsletter. (Borders Online is not affected by this restructure and continues to stock a huge selection of books, CD’s and DVD’s …)

Quote of the month

‘Our attention span is shot. We’ve all got Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD or OCD or one of these disorders with three letters because we don’t have the time or patience to pronounce the entire disorder. That should be a disorder right there, TBD – Too Busy Disorder.’ 
Ellen DeGeneres

 
 

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