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All the English You Will Ever Need


The English language is constantly evolving, both the words we use and the rules that control the usage of those words.  Therefore, it is impossible to ever have a definitive grammar guide, or, if you will, a Complete Guide of American English.  And that’s our excuse.



Word of the Every So Often

May 24, 2019

squire:  (verb, not the noun version)  for a man to escort a woman.  Lord Basil squired his mistresses into the room, and Lady Basil squired them out.


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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Word of the Week

indefatigable:  (adj.)  Untiring or ceaseless in efforts, as in:  She was indefatigable in her efforts to burgle the home until she got her comeuppance.

8:06 am pdt 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Word of Week

comeuppance:  (adj.)  deserved fate; you got what you had coming to you, as in:  After swindling all those old folks out of everything they had, begging for spare change on a street corner is his comeuppance.

4:55 pm pdt 

This Week's Deep Thought

Why is Alaska on Day Light Savings Time?  In the summer, it never gets dark anyway.  It’s not like one more hour of sunshine is going to change anybody’s life.  And it’s not to keep from being confusing for the rest of the country.  Alaska has its very own time zone, anyway. In fact, they have two:  Alaska and the Aleutians/Hawaii Time Zones.  And the Aleutians/Hawaii Tim Zone doesn’t do Day Light Savings.  So what’s the point?

4:51 pm pdt 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Join ACRONYM Today!

Here at the Holy Grail Press we have notice with increasing alarm that acronyms are threatening to take over our language.  It is becoming increasingly impossible to communicate without a listing of what alphabet letters stand for what.  Take “IRA” for example.  To name just a few, it can be the Irish Republican Army, International Reading Association, Individual Retirement Account, or Mrs. Inez Raylene Amerson.  But there are other acronyms.  Among many, there are scuba and radar, FBI and FBLA, CCR, CRT, RCA, AMA, FDA, NBA, NAS, SEC, BVD, BVM, and HGP.  Even the USA PATRIOT ACT is one really long acronym.  And don’t tell me that they named it and then realized, to their surprise, that that is what all the initials spelled.

 And then there is text messaging.  For the longest time I thought OMG was an additive in Chinese food.  Imagine how embarrassed I was when I learned it actually meant Outer Mongolia.  This nonsense has got to stop!

Therefore, we here at HGP have started the Association for the Cessation of Ridiculously Officious Nomenclature for Yakking Morons.  We believe that Acronyms must be stopped, and, with your support, we believe we can stop them, although we haven’t a clue how.  But that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to try, or that you can’t help!  All you need to do is join ACRONYNM.  By sending 29.95 to the Holy Grail Press in care of the Internet you will receive absolutely nothing, other than knowing you are now an official member of ACRONYM.  And in doing so, you will know you have at least done something, and what can be more important than that?

1:44 pm pdt 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Word of the Every So Often


Burgle:  (verb)  It's what burglars do.



11:32 am pdt 

Today in Grammar

February 4, 1895:  The Semi-colon.


As early as 1895, after coming off the disappointing loss of the dash to rival Gutwald Buetterstrapp*, Erstl von Hemholtz had confided in his longtime confident and friend, Über Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager that he was experimenting with something radical, “a mix... no, a combination... of a comma and a period...” what he was calling a “sort-of-comma.”  Convinced that punctuation wasn’t confusing enough, he began stacking punctuation on top of each other in the summer of 1883, while vacationing in the Alps.  Early attempts had him placing the comma on top of the period, but, as he stated in a letter to Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager, “I feel the period holds the comma down.  Without the period, the comma would rise much higher and take on a life of its own.”  It wouldn’t be until 1903 that von Hemholtz would finally let the comma rise and shock the entire world with the invention of the apostrophe.  But for now Hemholtz was mired in what he called his “stacking phase.”  He confessed once again to Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager that he “liked the symmetry” of one period stacked on another, but went on to state that he couldn’t “really see any purpose in such a thing.”  It would be another eight years, also in 1903, before he would resurrect the colon, commenting at the time, “I was wrong all along in thinking I needed a purpose.”

It was on February 4, 1895, while attending a reception at Baron von Yamanstiffer’s, while “watching another guest become violently ill after eating spoiled clams,” that it came to him.  Writing to Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager, Hemholtz stated, “It was there all along; I just needed to put the period on top of the comma!”  It wasn’t until that following summer, at the World Grammar Convention in Berlin, that Hemholtz introduced to the world what he had now come to call the “semi-colon.”  When asked by colleagues what the purpose of such a thing was, Hemholtz answered, “Purpose?  Why, it has no purpose.  It does absolutely nothing.”  In what Hemholtz later wrote in his autobiography as his finest moment, he received a standing ovation that lasted “a full twelve minutes.”  It is still a point of academic debate how Hemholtz could’ve invented the semi-colon before he truly invented the colon.




*  Whereas researchers such as Le Heungh in Paris and Armorwald, who had begun a movement to establish the English equivalent of L’academie du Français in London, believe that there should be no appreciative difference between the hyphen (which had been introduced at the 1878 World Grammar Convention by Fregelmeyer in Oslo to overwhelming approval), and the proposed dash (which Hemholtz claimed to have envisioned as early as 1872), Hemholtz had been convinced that a dash should be considerably longer “to prevent certain confusion.”  Early prototypes by Hemholtz were over three inches long.  Stated Hemholtz, “Let’s see you confuse that baby with a hyphen.”  Finding such a length cumbersome, it was Buetterstrapp, in 1885, who came up with the idea of “simply doubling the stupid thing.”


11:02 am pdt 

Grammar Alive!

Grammar Alive!  

Good evening, my name is Alistar Riley, and this is Grammar Alive!  The show that seeks each night to challenge its viewers with not only what is right, but what is also grammatically correct.  Tonight we tackle what some have called the most tragic miss-use of the English language since “gate” was deemed a suffix.  And that of which I speak is none other than the miss-use of the word “fact.”  Our first guest is Doctor Cranston Edelfice, editor of the very popular Dictionary of Every Word Ever Said And Why You Shouldn’t.  Tell me, Doctor Edelfice, and may I assume that we are not speaking in terms of a medical degree?  Very well.  Tell me Doctor Edelfice, just why is it that you’re getting so bloody agitated over the misuse of the word “fact”?


Well, Alistar, if it mayn’t be too presumptuous of me to call someone by his first name who has yet to receive his doctorate?  Very well, then.  You see, it’s a fact that people are using this word without even thinking about it.  And words without thought... what’s the point of that?  Take my previous example.  I stated that it is a fact that people are misusing the word “fact.”  Of course it’s a fact.  If it exists, it is a fact.  A rather pointless use of the word, I would say.    And then, of course, is the phrase, “It is a known fact.”  What other kind of facts are there?  A lot of good unknown facts are going to do anybody.


I’m sorry, Sir Edelfice, if it may not be presumptuous to call somebody by a term of nobility that is based solely on land, but are you saying that unknown facts cannot exist?


Certainly not, A.R., if it may not be presumptuous of me to call somebody by his first initials because he’s not man enough to tell me to my face if he didn’t.  It exists on the same continuum as known facts.  If they’re unknown facts, they remain facts just the same.  Whether the adjectival modifier negates or confirms matters little.  It is still nothing more than a modifier and it doesn’t change the condition of the noun.


Well you ignorant polymorphatic abstraction, if it’s not presumptuous of me to openly insult you because there’s no one in the entire educated community who would take your side unless a bottle of very fine Scotch were involved in the transaction.  But isn’t that the precise intention of modifiers, to change the condition of the noun?


You know, Crany, if it may not be presumptuous of me to reduce your name to nonsense because it so much better suits your personality, I say the hell with this and we go open that bottle of Scotch I’ve been saving for just such an occasion.  This is Grammar Alive! and we’ll be back after the break with Dr. Hortland Howl, whom, it is a well known fact, is the world’s leading authority on semi-colons, and author of the nearly best-selling novel, Semi-Colon of Desire.  Stay tuned, why don’t you?


10:53 am pdt 

Exclamation Points

In formal writing, don't use them.  It shows bias.  In fact, you shouldn't use them at all unless you're writing dialogue.  And if you do use them, only use one.  What does two exclamation points show that one doesn't?  And if two shows more exclaiming, then why stop there?  Why not seventeen?

A general rule is:  If your words don't do the exclaiming on their own, then punctuation is probably not going to help.  It's a bit like putting "lol" after something that you want me to laugh at.  If I'm not laughing already, if I can't tell it's supposed to be funny, do you think it will suddenly become humourous because you've put "lol" at the end?  Not likely.


10:30 am pdt 

Quote of the Week
Being a writer who doesn't read is like a fisherman who doesn't get in boats.  Sure you can do it, but you're never going to be very good at it.
10:23 am pdt 

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