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Scripturient: The definition of evil

I try to choose my words carefully. Words have power, words can create emotions, words linger and stick with us. Words matter. Words can be tools of great precision and effect. So when I hear or read them being abused, misused or simply inappropriately… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: The definition of evil

Scripturient: The gems of Salomé

I was perhaps 11 or 12 when I first encountered Oscar Wilde’s play, Salomé. Some of it, at least. At the time, I knew nothing of Wilde, his writing, or even much about theatre in general. After all, I was in grade seven or eight. It would be a … . . . → Read More: Scripturient: The gems of Salomé

Scripturient: Type Crimes and Taxes

Type crime is the term author Ellen Lupton uses in her book, Thinking With Type, to describe egregiously bad typography. That description came to mind as I perused the latest fluff mailer from our MP; the so-called “Tax Guide.” So-called be… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Type Crimes and Taxes

Scripturient: Teas or Tisanes?

I suppose it’s crotchety of me, but whenever I hear the term “herbal tea” used to refer to an infusion of leaves or fruits that contains no actual tea, I get shirty. They’re actually not tea at all, they’re tisanes, a plea… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Teas or Tisanes?

Scripturient: The Secret to Good Writing

Spoiler alert: the secret to writing well is…. (insert drum roll)… writing. Writing a lot. Every day. Every possible minute you can spare. Writing and writing more and then writing even more. But doing so within a pre-specified limit. Oops&#823… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: The Secret to Good Writing

Scripturient: Grammatical Hell in a Handbasket

The Washington Post has started the apocalypse. Yes, they have. And the whole world is about to go to hell in the proverbial handbasket because of it. The maw of Hell has opened… The Post has decided after decades – centuries? – of e… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Grammatical Hell in a Handbasket

Scripturient: Moved by myself…

After watching Collingwood council meetings on Rogers again, I felt I should re-post a link to a piece I first wrote several years ago, then again in 2014, then re-wrote in April of this year: Me, myself and I Every time I watched the meetings, I als… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Moved by myself…

Scripturient: A Sense of Pinker’s Style

I share one of Steven Pinker’s passions: I like to read style books, grammar books, language books. To me, they’re like literary chemistry sets. When I was young, getting a chemistry set for Christmas or a birthday opened a whole world to … . . . → Read More: Scripturient: A Sense of Pinker’s Style

Scripturient: Nope, That’s Not by Marcus Aurelius

An image appeared on Facebook purporting to be a quotation taken from Marcus Aurelius. Having read his Meditations more than once, I was baffled because it didn’t look at all familiar. The quote is: Everything we hear is a opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. It’s a good […]

Scripturient: Where Have The Real Heroes Gone?

Heroes, it sometimes seems, have been relegated to legend and myth. There are none left, none of the sort I used to associate with the name. Not in the media, anyway. The word has been so abused in the media over the last century, tossed about in such a cavalier manner that it has lost […]

Scripturient: The Venereal Game

The Venereal Game is the provocative subtitle of James Lipton’s 1968 classic, An Exaltation of Larks (reprinted in 1977, and later expanded in the 1993 “ultimate” edition). Venereal, in this sense, comes from venery which in turn comes from the Latin venari, to hunt or pursue, rather from the sexual connotation.* The collective nouns in much of […]

Scripturient: Another Archy Poem

Most of Don Marquis’ Archy pieces were written in lowercase. The literate cockroach, we learned, would stand on the typewriter and dive, head first, onto the keys. But this way, he couldn’t use the shift key to get capital letters or punctuation (he did get capital letters, once, when Marquis left the shift-lock on the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Prenzie Scamels

Four hundred years after he wrote them, we still use in everyday speech the many words and phrases Shakespeare coined. He gave us so many, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to list them all here. But two words he wrote have stopped us dead: prenzie and scamels. What do they mean? Were they more […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Bad Designs

I’m not a graphic designer. I was not formally educated in that art. However, over the years, my jobs in editing and writing for books, newspapers, magazines and publishers have required me to learn the rudiments of layout, typography and design. I am the first to admit my design talent is merely adequate. Despite that, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Me, Myself and I Redux

At Collingwood Council meetings, you will always hear someone say “Moved by myself…” when presenting a motion at the table.* Argh! Where did these people go to school? Clearly our education system has failed us if people were raised to say that. And this is in the public record, too. To me it’s like nails on […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Defining Classical Music

I listen to classical music a lot, even more than before since the arrival of the new classical FM station in Collingwood. But while my listening at home is through a selected collection of CDs, the content played on radio – internet radio included – is more eclectic. Airplay often includes soundtracks, music from musicals, even […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Responsibility of Free Speech

In January, 2015, Marie Snyder, on her blog, A Puff of Absurdity, raised the question of how free should speech be. I share her concerns about the apparent limitlessness of our rights: our right to free speech is not matched to any inherent responsibilities, civic or moral, to behave in a mature manner, nor does […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Happy Talk

A recent study proved an old notion – the Pollyanna Hypothesis – that there is a “universal human tendency to ‘look on and talk about the bright side of life’” according to a team of scientists at the University of Vermont. The story was reported on Science Daily recently. Reading through newspapers, magazines, websites, music lyrics and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Words, Your Brain and Sex

One of the reasons I’m a dedicated librocubularist* can be found in a story on IFL Science that is headlined, “Learning New Words Activates The Same Brain Regions As Sex And Drugs.” It opens: While it doesn’t get much better than sex and drugs for many out there, new research has found that simply learning […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Some Latin Quotes to Ponder

Here are some translations from Latin quotations I took from a few books of mine, notably The Anchor Book of Latin Quotations, compiled by Norbert Guterman (Anchor-Doubleday, New York, 1966 and reprinted 1990) and Cave Canem: A Miscellany of Latin Words & Phrases, by Lorna Robinson (Walker & Co., New York, 2008). Some of these […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Abusing quotation marks

What goes through your mind when you see words in a paragraph or a sentence surrounded by quotation marks? Like that sign in the image on your left? That they are words excerpted from conversations or written content? Or that they are special; peculiar words, or perhaps used ironically, sarcastically or in jest? Take these examples […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Ruthful, funct and doleless

Why can’t someone be clueful, only clueless? Hapful, not simply hapless? Aweless instead of just awful? Ruthful not merely ruthless? Doleless, not just doleful? Gormful, not just gormless? We can be thoughtful or thoughtless, careful or careless, mindful and mindless. Why not ruthful and gormful? Why not the qualities of ruthiness, gormliness and doleliness? Can […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Me, Myself and I

At council meetings across the province, you will hear someone say “Moved by myself…” when presenting a motion at the table. To me it’s like nails on a blackboard. The grammatically correct way to present a motion is, of course, to say, “Moved by me…” So why the mistake? Common misunderstanding and discomfort, it appears, according […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: How to Spot a Communist

As I just learned from a recent piece on Open Culture, I must be a Communist. Based on my preference for writing (and reading), that is. (This would definitely surprise my left-wing friends who often think I’m right of Stephen Harper… himself being so far right of the iconic Genghis Khan that it defines a […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Feetish or Fettish?

I was surprised to recently read in David Crystal’s book, The Story of English in 100 Words, that fetish – which I pronounce “feh-tesh” – was once pronounced “feetish.” In fact, in the 1920s, Crystal writes, the BBC had that pronunciation in its guide for radio broadcasters.* It makes sense, of course, when you think […]