Friday, December 18, 2015

Top-10 Overused Buzzwords on LinkedIn

I read an article from "Business Insider" that lists the top-10 overused buzzwords that LinkedIn users have in their profiles. It's an interesting list, and I will let you decide if you have these words or not—and whether the words need to be changed.

In my opinion, authenticity, accuracy, and precise communication are the best approaches. If the word applies to your skills and background, use it; just don’t overuse it again and again in your profile. I use a couple of these words in my LinkedIn profile, and I am not changing those couple of words because the words are accurate. Here goes a portion of the article:

The No. 1 overused buzzword last year across LinkedIn profiles globally and in the US was "motivated."

If you want your profile to stand out in 2015 (per Business Insider, not necessarily per me), avoid these overused words and phrases at www.linkedin.com:

1. Motivated  

2. Passionate

3. Creative

4. Driven

5. Extensive experience

6. Responsible

7. Strategic

8. Track record

9. Organizational

10. Expert

Randall Ponder, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA     www.editingexpert.com
https://www.twitter.com/randallponder       @randallponder

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Paris Attacks: Lessons Learned from the Media

The attacks in Paris last week were horrific, and they graphically showed a dark side that remains on our earth. At the same time, there was an outpouring of solidarity for the victims, city of Paris, and country of France. My sympathies go out to the victims’ families and other people who were affected by this event. As did millions of others across the world, I watched in horror as the aftermath became increasingly clear.

Fortunately, the media were there almost instantaneously reporting on the events, and journalists from dozens of countries were on the ground within hours. Viewers were dependent on professional reporting to present accurate and up-to-date information on what was known about all things related to the attacks.

What got my attention in the hours and days after November 13 were the facts, speculation, and revised statements about what happened. News reports after a major catastrophe are, in my view, always a developing story. We learn a little bit at the beginning, increasingly more as the hours and days go on, and if we’re lucky, one day we get the truth about what really happened. That is just the way it goes with big and complicated events such as the attacks.

I noticed three media trends develop over the past week, and I want to mention them today and show how they relate to us in our daily lives. The lessons learned thus far from the Paris news coverage are directly applicable to us at work and elsewhere.

1. Initial accounts are seldom true or complete; facts change.

There was simply too much going on in the hours and first day or so after the events to know exactly what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and who did it. This may seem obvious, and that is why I am pointing it out today. It is noted that the media is not privy to all the information that law enforcement and intelligence agencies know at any particular moment, so it would make sense that the French authorities would withhold some of their information for fear of compromising their investigation.

In the attacks, I noticed that it took about a half-day before we began to get solid and credible information. Some of this differed substantially from the initial reports on the night of the attacks. Was it one group that attacked all locations, or were there multiple teams that had different missions? In what order did the attacks occur? Were all the assailants dead as was initially reported, or, as we later found out, did one escape into the night? Again, this is just the way it is: Not all information is known at the beginning.

That is why we who work in or with organizations must be relentlessly proactive at the beginning of an assignment or project, regardless of the scope. For us to get all the information we need to make decisions or adjust course, this information gathering is heavy at the beginning while it remains constant and intense throughout the project. Information gathering never ends, nor should it. In the macro and micro environments in which we operate, change is inevitable and the facts and assumptions change frequently. Communication to, from, and throughout all levels of our organizations is key to successful outcomes.

If we are to make the right decisions along the way, we have to act just like French law enforcement and the international community are acting right now. They are relentless in their attempt to get fresh and correct information each day, because each day gives them the opportunity to get closer to the end of their most immediate problem, or project. The media are doing the same thing by being open to this truth, accepting the constant change, doing their job by validating their sources, and reporting what we should know. So for us, the lesson learned is to work hard on a project, but be open to changes in our facts, assumptions, and environments so that we too can succeed at what we’re doing.

2. If someone says something is true, that is not necessarily so.

During the Paris coverage over the past week, we heard from witnesses and news commentators who gave their opinions on what had happened and why. The first-hand witness statements tended to be accurate, though in a several instances I noticed that some people extended their testimony by making some questionable statements about what they saw happen. In addition, some witness statements directly contradicted the accounts of others. I will not judge them on this; they went through an intense and tragic situation that will haunt them for many years. 

As for the media, they reported what they knew: raw information and solid facts once verified. Yet again, there were numerous instances where a television journalist would make a statement, and the next day this would be proved false. Is it the fault of the journalists? In most cases the answer is no because that is the nature of their job; that is, report what is known, verify when necessary, and update later as facts become clear.

As a notable example, we heard at various times with authority that the weapons used in the music hall were shotguns, automatic weapons, and explosiveslots of each. As of today, we do not know exactly which weapons were used because the final report is not complete, but it would not surprise me if the mix of weapons changes, given that there are only so many types of weapons that a team of terrorists can carry without detection before an attack.

In our lives at work and elsewhere, people give us advice, answers to questions, their opinion, first-hand accounts, and what they perceive as facts. Our job is to assess this trove of information and determine which is valid, factual, and useful. What I am mentioning should not be new to you, but it bears repeating that just because someone says something is true, that does not make it true. I can give you several unbelievable personal examples of this, but I will let you explore this truism on your own. While at work, make it a personal commitment to be more discerning of the vast amount of information and so-called facts that fall into your lap.

3. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.

I observed, in general, that the television media did not overstate what they knew or what they could tell us about the attacks on Paris. News reports seemed to be refreshingly frank with the viewers. This balanced approach to their job appealed to me, and I commend it. However, I did notice three glaring missteps by two different television networks; I would be remiss if I did not mention the incidents, which all referred to one victim’s stunning tale of survival.

A Parisian was in harm’s way, and it looked like she was going to get severely injured. My issue with the television reporting is that the reporters promised to the viewer that the incredible story of the lady would soon be told to us in a few minutes. In all three cases, about 20-30 seconds were used in the story’s promotional teaser, which also told us to stay tuned to hear “all of the details.” Well, I stayed tuned, and I did not hear the details.

It turns out in all three instances, the same video footage of the lady’s ordeal was shown along with some commentary, but the networks never delivered on their promise to me, the viewer. After waiting for the networks to give me the entire story, they eventually spent around 15 seconds showing and describing 80% of the lady’s ordeal, and then her story was over with not a clue as to how it ended; then it was on to the next story. More time was spent on the buildup to the story than on the story itself. In the end, I was left hanging and begging for more information on the lady’s condition, which was never revealed. Fortunately a couple of days later, I discovered on television that the lady survived her terror and was doing well.

The lessons are not to overpromise and underdeliver; don’t renege on your promise; and don’t insult someone’s intelligence. These truths are self-evident, and we can see their use in all aspects of our daily life. When we promise to do something and don’t do it, we lose credibility and stature to those with whom we interact. Avoid it.

Next month, we’ll get back on track with some easy fixes for daily writing. Thank you for your time today, and please bookmark my blog.

Randall Ponder, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA     www.editing-expert.com    
https://www.twitter.com/randallponder       @randallponder 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Easy Fixes for Daily Writing

Most people write every day. Whether you’re in school, at work, or in retirement, there are reports to be written, memos to be drafted, and emails and text messages to send. We write for our internal audiences such as co-workers, and we write externally to our customers, potential customers, and others. Most of us don’t give our writing a second thought; we just do it.

Therein is a potential problem: If we write without any reviewing or editing afterwards, we send stuff that is sloppy, has errors, or doesn’t communicate what we want it to say. How do you feel when you read some online news that has misspellings, incomplete facts, or faulty conclusions? What about company policy number 37 that is confusing, chock full of errors, and dated eight years ago? There may be a sinking feeling in your stomach at this moment, and if so, that’s ok because it might mean that your preference is to read, see, and send communications that are pristine, logical, and precise. Even if you’re not all knotted up when envisioning such haphazard writing, you might find it useful to have some quick pointers on improving what you have written. Writing well leaves a good impression, and it reflects on your professionalism, your concern for the recipients of your document, your ability to communicate well, and, of course, you.

In keeping with my prior promise to you, I am only mentioning practical, relevant, and easy-to-use tips and fixes. Today’s post will offer you five ways to clean up your communication so that your recipients have better feelings when they read or see what you have written. In another post later this month, I will offer some more ways to ensure that your written products look sharp. Today’s post is not a review of how to write; it is useful guidance on what to do after you have finished writing something.

1. Spell-Check. Always use the spelling and grammar checker (aka spell-check) on your word processing software to catch misspelled words in your documents. If you’re writing an email and don’t have access to spell-check (although there is a review tab in most email software), then write the email and copy/paste it into a blank document; then spell-check this new document and correct the email as necessary. Spell-check will also alert you to any grammar issues that you can correct as well. If you have the money and believe you are in need of some serious double-checking of your writing, there are dozens of software packages or online companies from which to choose.

A caveat to spell-check is that it’s not always correct. And so with every suggestion it gives you, think about it and decide whether to accept or decline the suggested alternative spelling or grammar improvement. As an example, if you write the following sentence and then spell-check it, Microsoft Word will consider it a correct sentence; however, it is not correct.

“He was on a mission to sleigh or trap the animal, since it was violently killing his outdoor pets.”

So because of instances like this, never completely rely on spell-check.

2. Read What You Write. After spell-checking your document, read it a minimum of two times. Read once on the computer screen, and then print the document and read it again. I promise you that after reviewing the printed document, you will find an error, an improvement, or a logic issue that you would have never seen just by reading from the computer screen.

Why is that? By printing the document, you are, in essence, reformatting it to your eyes and mind, thus allowing you to take a fresh look at your document because you’ve become too familiar with it. This slightly time-consuming task will pay off for you when you see things that you had not seen before. As a copy editor, unless I am editing something online in real time, I rarely go final on a document until I print it and review the written words as they appear on paper.  

3. The Buddy System. Some experts advocate reading your document backwards before you go final. This may catch some errors, and if you have the time, go for it. I find it tedious to read a document this way, and the only real benefit is to catch punctuation errors; it doesn’t help you find errors in sentence structure, logic, or style. Instead, spend your coveted time with your buddy. That is, find someone in your workplace or family who can read your document for themselves so that they can tell you what they think and possibly catch errors that you’ve missed. Just give them your document and ask them for any comments on the areas we are discussing today. Your buddy might catch some sentences that don’t make sense, a paragraph that is all over the place, and of course, misspellings. In turn, pay back the favor and volunteer to review your buddy’s documents as needed. You both will benefit as a result, and all of your documents will see improvement.

4. Wait. It’s quite amazing that after you write a document and put it away and out of mind for a while, it will then be much easier to edit and review. The idea is that you give your mind and eyes a break from the constant exposure to your words. When you wait a while for another review, you will be refreshed and in a better position to tackle the final review. If you have the time, take an overnight break from the document; when you look at it the next day, it will be almost as if you’re looking at it for the first time. No kidding.

5. One Space Not Two. In upcoming posts, I’ll offer some quick fixes that deal with the issues of format and style, but I will put those aside for the moment—except for one thing. One space, that is. Please commit this to memory by repeating three times while tapping your feet: “There is only one space after a period.” There. You’ve done it, and you are now in the 99th percentile on this grammar topic.

If you randomly look at others’ documents, such as memos, résumés, or anything, you will still find that some people believe that it’s ok to insert two spaces after a period, question mark, or exclamation point, which are usually called the three end marks. That’s ok, and the people don’t mean to do anything wrong. They are simply perpetuating a once-correct way of doing something during the age of the typewriter; it is no longer correct. Right now, check any magazine, newsletter, book, or newspaper, and you’ll likely find that they too have only one space after the end marks. Unfortunately, there are many self-published books, electronic books, websites, and online articles that are still using the two-space rule; this is usually because these items were not edited properly. If you’re using a typewriter, you could probably get away with the double spaces, but ever since the dawn of computers and multiple fonts, space adjustment after an end mark is properly accounted for with just one space.

Next time, we’ll continue the discussion and expand it to other areas that you encounter while writing each day. Once again, thank you for your time, please bookmark my blog, and check back with me in a couple of weeks.

Randall Ponder, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA     www.editing-expert.com  
https://www.twitter.com/randallponder      @randallponder

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Looking for Answers to Questions

Many years ago, the singer/songwriter/author/entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett wrote a wonderful ballad that he still performs to this day. It’s entitled “He Went to Paris” and is considered by many Buffett fans as one of his best songs. I like it for many reasons, but I will focus on just one. The song sets up today’s topic by its very first verse: “He went to Paris, looking for answers to questions that bothered him so.” I could stop writing right now and feel complete, but I can’t because I need to convey to you why those words are relevant to us.

How many times during a week do you go to a business, store, or restaurant and you have questions about a product, price, or menu—about anything? And how many times at work or at home do you interact with a co-worker, significant other, or a child and have even more questions? Let’s keep it simple and round up; we’ll go with a thousand times. During these one thousand interactions, you have questions that are clearly bothering you in the sense that you’re looking for answers, sooner rather than later.

Now, look at the following set of three questions that you could ask someone along with some possible answers that could be given to you. Pick your preferred answer and we’ll continue in a moment.

Q. I notice that the shirt is not available in a medium size; could you order one for me?
A. Absolutely!  B. No problem!  C. Not a problem!  D. Yes ma’am, we can.

Q. I really want that hamburger on toast instead of the bun. Can you do that?
A.  Not a problem!  B. I can absolutely do that.  C. That is absolutely not a problem.  D. Yes sir.

Q. Hey (insert co-worker’s name here), thanks for making that fresh pot of coffee.
A. No problem!  B. Not a problem.  C. You are absolutely welcome.  D. You are welcome.

For me, my favorite answer to all three questions was the last choice. Was “D” your favorite choice as well? If not, then that’s ok, and I respect your choice. For those of you who chose “D”, I would like to explore why we chose it. I can think of several reasons: It is a clean and definitive affirmative response with no room for confusion; it doesn’t tempt us to ask an awkward follow-up question; it’s traditional; it’s polite; and it’s not one of the other three answers.

Combining answer “D” with the other choices could work almost as well while taking some of the abrasiveness away from the other choices. Consider these acceptable responses:

- Yes ma’am. That would be no problem.

- Yes sir. Fortunately, that would be no problem because we have some fresh bread on hand.

- That is absolutely impossible for me to do because we have no bread.

- You’re welcome. It is not a problem for me to do that.

So we see that the words themselves aren’t the problem, and there are countless uses of the words “absolutely” and “problem” that are just fine. It becomes problematic when the person at whom the phrase is used thinks the answer is curt, rude, unclear, or unprofessional. The answer may, in turn, make the person feel awkward, confused, or disrespected. If we want to communicate successfully and make others feel special, using the right words will help.

When we ask questions of others, usually we have compelling reasons to do so. We need to determine—without doubt—an answer. Like Jimmy Buffett wrote, we have a question that is bothering us to some degree and we want someone to answer it. In recent years, language has gotten relaxed and sometimes we get relaxed answers from others. In general, I think this is a great trend and makes for a better world. Sometimes, however, we need to speak up and call out those phrases or words that are annoying, bothersome, unclear, just-plain-wrong, or open ended. The answers I write about today are grouped into two categories that I wish did not exist: “No Problem” (and its variations) and “Absolutely” (and its variations).

Do I want to ban these words? No. I’d just prefer them not used in certain circumstances, such as shown in the three questions posed above. It makes good business and personal sense by not avoiding this grammar issue and instead addressing it head on. By formally training our workers and staff on how to properly answer customers’ questions, businesses would make customer experiences so much better. Similarly, if we hint to a relative that their answer is ambiguous or, in essence, a non-answer, then we will help them make some improvements that will be of great benefit across many areas of their life. They may even appreciate our suggestions at some point. How about that?

Now back to our two categories. Are the people who use these responses terrible people who should be shunned? Absolutely not! (Ouch. This is another usage that can be decreased.) I meant to say “No, of course not.” In fact, my hunch is that those who use these phrases are people who have inherent enthusiasm, excitement, and friendliness; the last thing we want to do is dampen those fine attributes. The world needs more people just like this who want to make others feel good and have fantastic experiences. Just this past week, for example, I read a quote from an enthusiastic senior executive in a restaurant chain who stated in a major business magazine: “We have absolutely seen increased consumer demand for pork.” She got her point across to the readers, but my point is that the word “absolutely” in this context is probably not needed; and if you’re going to use a strong-sounding word, why not say something like this: “We have seen substantial (or unbelievable, or record-shattering, or previously unseen) increased consumer demand for pork.” Or, just leave out the word; the sentence will be just fine.

I ask my readers to help out those around you when appropriate, and make a suggestion here or a constructive comment there. You could even look puzzled at hazy answers; this may prompt the person to offer an alternative and better answer. All of this will go a long way in getting clear, definitive, and positive answers to the questions that are bothering you so.

Please bookmark my blog, thank you for your time, and I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.

Randall Ponder, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA     www.editing-expert.com  https://www.twitter.com/randallponder      @randallponder

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Say what?

There is no doubt that we all make mistakes every day; what I try to do through this blog is help us make fewer grammatical and communication missteps. The research I put into each blog post helps me become better at writing, editing, and communicating; and my goal is that you will find this information useful and practical. 

Grammar carries over to situations where we converse with others, either informally or formally. Today, I am focusing on some words that are often mispronounced in media, government, and our day-to-day lives. My opinion on each of these words is based on recent research and opinions from practitioners in the field; as a result, if you go with what I suggest, you’ll be fine. The suggestions are intended for those who are English-speaking and living in the USA; you’ll find different pronunciations that are correct in other countries. Since often there is more than one correct way to pronounce a word, I’ll give you the most common and preferred way. I always want to be relevant to you the reader, so the following list of mispronounced words is topical and will help us as we chat with others each day.

1. Pronunciation. The core part of this word is spelled differently than in “pronounce.” Notice that there is no “noun” in this word—just “nun”— so “pro-noun-see-ā-shun” is not the way to say it.
- “Pro-nun-see-ā-shun”

2. Iran and Iraq. These countries have been in the news for decades, and I’ve heard each of them pronounced at least five different ways by people who should know better. No wonder we are confused.   
- Iran: “ear-Ron”—Not: I-Ron, I-Ran, E-Ron, E-Ran, Ear-Ran.
- Iraq: “ear-Rock”—Not: I-Rock, E-Rock, I-Rack, E-Rack, Ear-Rack.

3. Utmost. Your use of language is of utmost importance to your company and those with whom you work. Many times this word is mistakenly pronounced as “upmost.”

4. Calvary. This special word of religious significance is often swapped accidentally for “cavalry,” which is a specific term pertaining to special types of military organizations or soldiers.

5. Applicable. This is a helpful word that we use quite frequently. It’s common to hear its first letter “a” sounding like Hay or Day; but it’s not correct.
- “uh-Plic-uh-ble”—Not ā-Plic-uh-ble.

6. Verbiage. Here we have a word that is nicely used in describing a style or manner of writing or speech (according to one of several definitions of the word), and it is known to be pronounced in several interesting ways. Notice the “a” in the word is silent when pronounced correctly.
- “Vur-be-ij” is correct and preferred with three quick syllables.

7. Espresso. At the coffee shop, some coffee drinkers order “expresso” for their morning drink. This may, in turn, explain the puzzled look on the barista’s face.

8. Prescription. After visiting a doctor, she gives us a prescription, not a “perscription.”

9. Nuclear. Various people have been ridiculed (not nice to do) for pronouncing this scary word as “Nu-ca-lur.” It’s “nu-clear” with just two syllables.

10. Presley. As in Elvis. Elvis Presley, that is. Most everyone in the world knows how to pronounce his first name, and most people refer to him at least once or twice a year. Now what about that last name?
- “Press-lee”—Not Prezz-lee.

Once again, it’s been a pleasure to pass along some grammar tips to you, and I hope today’s post has served you well.

Randall Ponder, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA     www.editing-expert.com   https://www.twitter.com/randallponder      @randallponder

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sports and Words

The U. S. football season has begun, and this annual passage has motivated me to note it today and make some observations. I have started to pay more attention to the announcers who are heard during the games. Announcers do great jobs given what most would see as herculean tasks—work live on television or radio or at a high school announcer’s booth for three to four hours describing to the viewers or listeners what is happening and trying to do it without error and within seconds; I applaud these men and women for their skill, aptitude, and tenacity.

So today’s post is more about some of the language missteps they and others occasionally make when describing plays, giving statistics, and making on-air predictions. Those of us not in the sports industry make these same mistakes in other areas of our personal or professional lives as we communicate, so the following observations apply to us as well; this is not a condemnation of sports officials or anyone else. My focus is on the areas of quantity, distance, and comparison.

Quantity

Fewer vs. Less. “Fewer” refers to things that one can count or quantify, while “less” deals with uncountable, intangible, or abstract things.

There are fewer players (not less players) on a basketball team than on a football team. Some footballs have less air in them than others, and the ones with less air have fewer pounds of air. The losing team will score fewer points than the winning team; as a result, the losing team may have less of a chance to win the championship. A football game usually lasts fewer than four hours, and it certainly lasts less than a day.

Number vs. Amount. “Number” refers to countable things; “amount” is about all things uncountable. The:

- number of days in the week
- number of seats in a football stadium
- number of fans in attendance at today’s game
- number of players on a team
- number of passes in a game
- total number of points scored in the season
- number of beverage coolers used during a game
- tremendous amount of the fans’ enthusiasm
- huge amount of pressure on the coach to have a winning season
- high amount of confidence one team has over its opponent
- large amount of liquids drunk by the players during the game

Distance

Farther vs. Further. Think of “farther” as a physical distance; remember that and you’ll be ok. “Further” is used when talking about nonphysical or figurative distances, or when meaning “additional.”  

Team A’s quarterback throws passes that are longer and farther downfield than does his counterpart on Team B. The coach tells his players that they have to do more work each week if the team is to further its chances to enter the playoffs. Do your daily drills, and you’ll run farther faster; and furthermore, you’ll be appreciated by a greater number of fans who will have huge amounts of loyalty.

Comparison

Good, Better, and Best; and Great, Greater, and Greatest. Usually good and great stand by themselves, as in “This company is great. That product is good. This football season is going to be great.” Kick it up a notch when comparing something with one other thing, as in “our company is greater than his, that product is greater than its predecessor, or our kicker is better than theirs.”

The superlatives “best” and “greatest” are used when comparing one thing against two or more other things: this season will be the best and greatest of all seasons in the past twenty years. Our team is the best in its division.

Note that when comparing things, always indicate to what they are being compared. It’s confusing to a listener or reader when someone says “that punter is better” or “that punter is the best.” Better than who? The best of what?

Than vs. Then. “Than” is the comparative word, and “then” is related to time.

This quarterback can probably throw the ball farther than the fullback can throw it. A quarterback takes the ball and then he throws it, tosses it, runs with it, or fumbles it. If a team is winning by 30 points in the final minute of a game, then it will win the game because it is playing so much better than the other team.

Between vs. Among. These words aren’t really comparisons (they’re prepositions), but I am going to mention them anyway. Use the word “between” when referring to two things, and use “among” when three or more things are involved.

After the player fumbles the football, we watch a private conversation between the coach and the player. During said conversation, there is some tension among the other players on the team. If fans had to choose between two players to be the player of the game, then they would choose the receiver, because he caught a record-shattering number of passes. However, among the remaining forty or so players on the team, all of them are great players, though it is difficult to say who are among the greatest.

Thanks for your time today, and I wish you a great upcoming week.

Randall Ponder, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA     www.editing-expert.com https://www.twitter.com/randallponder     @randallponder

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Male-Female and Woman-Man

Although we are 14 months away from the election of a new president of the United States, many people are anticipating the election with enthusiasm, including those associated with the election who are using grandiose and hyperbolic words to describe the candidates and their promises. I’ve heard the following statement or a variation of it dozens of times in the past year: “We are ready to elect the first woman president of the United States.” The country may be ready for her to win, but I am not ready to accept language misuse over the next year to get her elected. So, we have the topic of today’s post.

In my opinion, the correct sentence should read: “We are ready to elect the first female president…” The words “male” and “female” are adjectives for a reason (they can also be used as nouns, as shown later), and they should be used as adjectives when obvious. Here are some correct but nuanced examples:

- female shoes, woman’s shoes, or women’s shoes (not woman shoes or women shoes)
- male slacks, man’s slacks, or men’s slacks (not man slacks or men slacks)
- female principal (not woman principal)  

Consider these other correct examples:

- The next president will be a woman who will have a male or female vice president.
- Our current president is a man who has a female Attorney General of the United States.
- I wear shoes that are made for a man, not for a woman.

A good way to catch mistakes in this gender-centric area is to think about the statement to see if it sounds right. If it sounds right, then it probably is. But as we have seen, many journalists, candidates, and others think that “a woman president” or a “woman doctor” sounds right and is perfectly correct; I understand, and this is their opinion. This debate is not new, and it has been talked about for years in references to non-presidential settings because it singles out women, rightly or wrongly. According to professional grammarians, language constantly evolves and exceptions are made. Some will disagree with my opinion on this topic, and one day these may all be acceptable phrases—but as of now, it is not a correct usage that’s widely accepted. As a society, we are not gender neutral (rightly or wrongly), and until that time arrives, my suggestion is to stick to the rules as much as you can or be as neutral as you can. Possibly, we can quit referring to people as a “male this” or a “female that.” How about just indicate their profession or situation without the adjective?

Thanks for tuning in, and for all of you who are reading today’s post, I hope your favorite candidates—man or woman, female or male—win in the many elections next year. But I must predict, however, that the next president will not be a man president nor will she be a woman president. Sorry.

Randall Ponder, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA  www.editing-expert.com  https://www.twitter.com/randallponder     @randallponder

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Grammar Made Easier

Hello to everyone! Some would say that a better title for my latest and most important blog is "Grammar Made Easier"but, I am going to leave it as is. This blog is intended to be a general forum by which I can make observations and points about grammar and communication usage in today's society; the blog will not be stuffy or irrelevant. I will keep everything light, tight, and practical, because as we all know, grammar is considered by many a contentious and heavy subject that induces naps or glazed eyes. My goal is to make a difference in your personal and professional lives by offering simple grammar and communication suggestions that you can immediately use. So you see, this blog is not about meit's about you.

In addition, you can post comments related to grammar and its use, and others may comment on your post. I intend to post regularly on such everyday topics as grammar usage and the challenges we face all the time in writing, speaking, and communicating well. You'll see some interesting distinctions I make on common errors, and you'll see my thoughts of what I observe others say in the public arena. I must note that I am not a grammarian or English language guru; I just have a lot of relevant experience in writing and copy editing. If you want to ask me a private grammar or communication question (we'll keep it between you and me), feel free to email me via my website's contact section located on this blog.

Your comments will appear online within a day or so because I want to have a brief delay before they're approved. But worry thee not! Your comment is my priority. Although you do not have to register as a user on this site, it would be nice if you would do so and follow me; I'd appreciate it. If that doesn't work for you, you can register as an anonymous member, or just bookmark the site so you can find it a couple of times a month.

Feel free to comment at will and educate us all on your thoughts on grammar; please keep everything clean, positive, and professional, or otherwise, I will delete the offending comment and toss it into the grammar trash can.

Thanks, and I'm glad you're here. 

Randall Ponder, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA     www.editing-expert.com
https://twitter.com/randallponder     @randallponder

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