Saturday, August 27, 2011
5:01 pm pdt
Every time you see a vampire in the movies, he is always immaculate. His hair is perfect
and there’s not a thread out of place on his outfit. How is that possible? It’s
a bit hard to stay well groomed when you can’t see yourself in the mirror.
4:59 pm pdt
Quick Rule: Quoting the Dictionary
Not at all. One: It’s a cliché. Two, it’s
assuming that your reader does not already know the definition to a word like “success” or “ambition,”
and that’s just insulting. Three, it assumes that even if your reader doesn’t know the definition,
that he or she can’t look it up. And, finally, if it is a technical word, like a legal or medical
term, then you need to be using a legal or medical dictionary.
4:54 pm pdt
Word of the Every So Often
tout: (verb) to solicit business,
votes, or what have you in an importune matter. They were trying to tout their success with the new spending
bill by hiring a plane to fly over the city with a banner telling the tax payers that their money was not being wasted.
Monday, August 22, 2011
2:52 pm pdt
Also new to the Incomplete Guide are Quick Rules. From time
to time we’ll post a shortened version of a basic rule of English. Some of them are legitimate rules,
such as using semi-colons, although they may be greatly simplified. And some of them are just things that
annoy me, like quoting the dictionary. You can wait here to check out these rules one at time, or you can
check them all out at once in their very own folder inside the Grammar tab.
rule for using a semi-colon: You can only use a semi-colon if you can also use a period. That’s
it. A semi-colon is NOT a longer comma. It is a shorter period. And
since a semi-colon is the same as a period, if you use it as a comma, you’re going to have an instant fragment.
So if it is the same as a period, then why use it at all?
2:29 pm pdt
We’ve added a new tab, because, after all, most of what we learn is just that: Trivia.
Suits me to a “T”
This saying has become a cliché meaning something that works perfectly; it is just what you need.
The saying is originally a plumber’s term. When three pipes join together in a “T,”
they need to be exact.
1:48 pm pdt
Arguing that your vocabulary is good enough is like arguing that Keystone
Light is good enough.
1:35 pm pdt
would anybody want to be extraordinary? Isn't that like saying you want to be more average?
Sunday, August 21, 2011
6:50 pm pdt
of the Every Once in a While
ubiquitous: (adj.) found everywhere. The graffiti was so
ubiquitous in the city that nobody was surprised when it started appearing inside of the businesses.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
7:33 pm pdt
Another Thought for the Day
Money won't get you to heaven, but it will get you to the front of the line.
Thought of the Every Once In A While
9:25 am pdt
of the Every Once in a While
Why is it better to be safe than sorry? Every old person I've ever heard lamenting about the
life they won't be able to live again always says the same thing: They wish they had been more sorry and less safe.
9:23 am pdt
Word of the Every Once in a While
iniquitous: (adj.) nefarious .
Her iniquity caused the workers to rise up in revolt, so she had them all taken out back and shot, which really surprised
nobody, because, after all, she was nefarious.
Friday, August 12, 2011
11:01 am pdt
Word of the Every Once in a While
nefarious: (adj.) famously wicked;
iniquitous. The Wicked Witch of the West won this year’s award for nefariousness.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
2:27 pm pdt
Lecture of the Week
Vocabulary… why bother at all?
…because there has to be a better word than “awesome.” I mean, really, how can
a wreck you saw on the highway and your girlfriend both be awesome? Awesome has been so overused in the
past many years that it has come to have no meaning at all. Sure, at one time it meant “breathtaking,
tremendous, overwhelming,” but now it means everything from “OK” to the most amazing thing you’ve
ever seen. When something is truly awesome, we need a better word for it, so people will not just think
And awesome is not alone. While compiling this list (a compilation)
I’ve noticed a marked propensity for the majority of the words to be adjectives. I think that’s
true for words as a whole. We are less in need of new names for those things we see around us than we are
in need of new ways to describe them. Take for instance the common vehicle. Sure, you
can call it a car, truck, or SUV, as the case might be, but if you want me to find it in the parking lot, you had best be
using some adjectives, such as size and color, for beginners.
And to circumvent the argument, sure, people probably will
know what you mean if you say that it was an awesome sunset. Your girlfriend will probably even be flattered
if you tell her she’s wearing an awesome dress. But would she even be more flattered
if you told her she was breath-taking? Awe-inspiring? Splendidly adorned?
Well, maybe not the last one, but hopefully you get the idea.
After all, if we want to be unique individuals, if we want
to be different than everybody else, then why are we willing to limit our entire repertoire of language to clichés?
What it comes down to is that writers are wordsmiths. Their medium is the written word.
Imagine trying to create a painting with only primary colours. You could do it, but it probably
will never hang in the Louvre. The shades and hues – the adjectives – are what really brings
a painting to life. Therefore, almost by default, writers, the really good ones, will have a better vocabulary
than most normal people. And what’s the point of having a better vocabulary if you don’t use
it? After all, if we never expanded our vocabulary, then we would all probably still be grunting in caves…
that is, if we ever could’ve gotten out of the trees. And you should never expect anybody to dumb
themselves down for you. It’s insulting to them, and it’s insulting to you. Therefore,
if you want to become a better writer, you really need a better vocabulary.
1:24 pm pdt
Word of the Week
odious: (adj.) something that evokes intense displeasure.
Garfield finds Odie to be quite odious.
1:23 pm pdt
Thought of the Every So Often
be used to guide your actions, not to justify them.