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All the English You Will Ever Need

 

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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

August 17, 2018 

redoubt:  (noun)  stronghold; castle; fortification.  Retreat to the redoubt!

 

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Word of the Week

underwhelmed:  (adj.)  The opposite of whelm.  When the politicians announced the tax breaks we all found it rather underwhelming.

3:44 pm pdt 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lecture of the Week

Capitalization Matters

Sure, it’s bothersome to capitalize, especially when you’re sending text messages, and we all know how important it is to get those out as quickly as possible.  You have to think about it, then you have to hit that little button to make a capital.  That’s work.  It’s just so much easier not to.  It’s right up there with using apostrophes.  Quite frankly, it’s work.  And who needs that?  But just like the meanings of words change when you don’t use apostrophes (consider the difference between “he’ll” and “hell”), the meaning also changes when you don’t capitalize.

Consider the following examples:

If you don’t capitalize corvette, you are no longer writing about a car.  You are writing about a fast sailing ship. 

Likewise, “mustang” is a horse; “Mustang” is the car.

If you capitalize directions, such as “South,” then you are writing about the specific geographical region, as in “The South’s gonna do it again!”  If you don’t capitalize the “ess,” then you are writing about the general direction, as in, “If you want to get to Portland, you need to go south.”

What about Republicans and Democrats?  In the lower case, republican and democrat are forms of government.  In the upper case, Republican and Democrat are political parties in the United States.  Likewise, a tea party is something a four year old daughter plays at, whereas the Tea Party is something her 40 year old mother plays at.

As well, Constitution is different than constitution.  The former is that beloved document that pretty much defines everything that makes one an American, and the other is a word that describes a state of being, as in:  His constitution always seemed to improve when he thought about how wonderful it was to live in a country that had such a document as the Constitution.

And is it God or god?  Generally, capitalizing God is an indication of a particular deity, generally the Judeo-Christian notion of God.  Therefore, if you automatically capitalize God every time you use it, then you are probably indicating your bias, whether you know it or not.  On the other hand, god with a little “gee” is an indication of no god in particular, or a choice from among many.  For instance, if you are talking about the Greek gods, it would be a little gee since you are not saying which god.  Likewise, if you wrote, “the god Zeus” it would be a little gee, since you are indicating a choice among many.  What that pretty much comes down to is that Christians and Jews tend to capitalize the name God when referring to their deity, and everybody else on the planet pretty much doesn’t, either because they don’t feel the need to, or because their god has a definite name.  And then let’s not forget capitalizing all the pronouns associated with God.  Don’t.  Really, it’s not necessary, and many Bible scholars feel the same.  “Bible,” by the way, should be capitalized because it is the name of a specific book.  However, if you are using “bible” in a general sense, such as the “wine-lover’s bible,” then you would not capitalize it.  And as long as we’re on the subject, do know that Jew’s don’t call their bible the Old Testament?  Only Christians call it the Old Testament.  The Jews generally call it the Hebrew Bible.  And, I suppose, they call the New Testament the Christian Bible.  But that only seems proper.  And could somebody please explain to me why the Books in the Old Testament are arranged differently than they are in the Hebrew Bible?

And then there’s the personal pronoun “I.”  Sure,  the English language is apparently the only language on the planet that capitalizes the personal pronoun “I.”  And it’s on the agenda for our next meeting to look into changing that.  But until then, we still do.  First, you actually have to think about it, and then you have to take the effort to hit the shift button, and you may ask, “What is there to confuse ‘I’ and ‘i’ with?”  Don’t they both mean the same thing?  Really… no.  The “i” you refer to in the lower case is apparently somebody who doesn’t know grammar, or who doesn’t care.  Either way, I have to wonder about your credibility.  And once your reader ever questions your credibility, you have none.  Of course, I would also question why you are mentioning yourself in a formal paper, but that’s for another essay.

 

5:20 pm pdt 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Word of the Week

whelm:  (verb)  to overcome completely; originally it meant with water, but it can be by anything.  Seriously, whelm means the exact same thing as overwhelm.  So, in our bid to get rid of completely and otherwise eliminate redundancy, we here at HGP urge everybody to start using whelm when they would otherwise use overwhelmed.  He was whelmed when he learned that he no longer had to say “overwhelmed.”

4:36 pm pdt 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Word of the Week

discombobulated:  (adj)  really confused.  If you discombobulate the students by using the verb form of an adjective for the example sentence, then they will be discombobulated.

9:19 am pdt 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Word of the Week

boisterous:  (adj)  rambunctious, but to a slightly lesser degree, unless, of course, you want it to mean the same, then nobody’s going to really care.  We thought the boys were being rambunctious, but were relieved to find out that they were only boisterous.

 

6:14 pm pdt 

Word of Last Week

rambunctious:  (adj.)  wildly boisterous.  My sister-in-law believed her child was just being rambunctious when she dynamited her preschool.  “Girls will be girls.”

 

6:12 pm pdt 

This Week's Deep Thought
If wars work, why do we keep having them?
6:09 pm pdt 


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