‘Educate’ vs. ‘Inform’

Education As regular readers of this blog are aware, every once in a while I take time away from retelling stories I find entertaining and go on a little language rant. As a writer and editor, I hope my friends will view this as coming inevitably with the territory. Today’s post – about the widespread […]

The Commencement Speech You’d Really Rather Hear

Graduation season is again upon us. The season for speechifying. As a professional speechwriter, I’d like to offer the following text for the featured speaker at whichever graduation you’ve been invited to attend: “Good morning, graduates, parents and guests. To provide some unexpected relief, I’ll be brief. I’ll simply answer a question many of you […]

Advance Man for the Grim Reaper? No, Thank You!

Stereotypical obit writer I recently read an article in The Economist about Obit, a documentary on the obituary writers at the New York Times. As someone whose writing credits include several obits, I found the article of considerable interest. I got my start in the genre when I was working as publications manager for Alexander […]

‘Bespoke’ vs. ‘Custom-Made’ or ‘Made-to-Order’

  Here’s a word that, in my view unfortunately, has been creeping into use in the U.S. – “bespoke,” as in a “bespoke” suit or shirt. Taking myself as a representative moderately well-educated American native speaker of English, I have to admit that the first couple of times I came across “bespoke” I was completely […]

Windiness Is Ubiquitous

Nearly a year ago I wrote about unnecessarily windy phrases like “next week Wednesday” and “15-year anniversary.” It seems, however, that the wind never stops blowing. Have you ever noticed how people sometimes appear to forget simple words and instead use liberally loquacious locutions (there’s one!) whose extra length only makes reading tiresome? Want another […]

‘Regard’ vs. ‘Regards’

  Regular readers* of this blog probably realize by now that I often react to poor usage almost as I do to the sound of fingernails on a blackboard. So – Surprise! Surprise! – here’s something else that bothers me: seeing “regards” written in place of “regard.” One extra letter makes a big difference. The […]

‘Simplistic’ vs. ‘Simple’

Simplistic ain’t simple. Well, actually it is … in the sense that the difference between the two words is clearcut or, you might say, plain and simple. We all know what “simple” means – “not complex, easy.” However, it’s such a simple word that sometimes, when some of us would like to sound more impressive […]

Sky’s the Limit for Hotel Tax? Ask Icarus!

  I wrote this opinion piece (op-ed) in response to an article that appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of the North Bay (California) Business Journal. It was published this week’s (Jan. 23) issue, which was delivered to my mailbox yesterday Jan. 21. (The published version appeared under an additional headline – “Visitors pay hotel […]

May I Help Who’s Next?

Have you ever been in a store needing assistance when a clerk or barista who’s just finished helping another customer asks, “May I help who’s next?” It’s happened to me more times than I can count – umpty-ump times at least, if not skatey-eight, as my mom used to enumerate such things. In checking to […]

A Delightful Collaboration

Dr. Richard R. Kelley with Howard and Sandra Yesterday, December 17, 2016, was the conclusion, for me, of a 14-year editorial collaboration* with a remarkable man, Dr. Richard Kelley, who, on the eve of his 83rd birthday, has just put down his pen as “scribe, editor and publisher” of a remarkable corporate newsletter. Saturday Briefing, […]