‘CorporateSpeak’ and Condescension in Business Letters

A business letter In his novel 1984, George Orwell wrote about Newspeak,1 which “Big Brother” — i.e., the totalitarian government — wanted to substitute for Oldspeak (everyday English). In 1984’s dystopian society, the objective of Newspeak was to strengthen government control of the populace by shaping and limiting its vocabulary. I’ve begun this piece by referring […]

Unless You’re Prepared for People to Ignore — and Maybe Sometimes Laugh at — What You Write, You Might Need the Help of an Editor or Copywriter

If you must smoke, please do it quietly! Yesterday a friend asked if I’d like to speak at his Rotary Club in a few months. We tentatively agreed on a topic, namely the title of this post. The following is a preview of some of the territory I expect to cover in this and another […]

Governor’s Speechwriter — Who, Me?

Gov. John Waihee with speechwriter Howard Daniel on the morning of “the Guv’s” last day in office, Dec. 5, 1994 Last week I wrote about why I love the work I do. This week, readers might be interested to learn how it was that, a quarter century ago, I found myself working as speechwriter to […]

Why I Love My Work

This writer/editor, red pen in hand In introducing myself to potential clients and business colleagues, I sometimes find myself talking about why I love writing and editing. I suspect this might also be of interest to readers, so I’m sharing it now. It’s the creativity in writing and editing that I love. The best analogy […]

Bated or Baited Breath?

Bait breath! A few days ago, while reviewing a blog post (which, to protect the not-so-innocent, I won’t identify), I came across a phrase I feel sure many readers have seen a time or two: After much waiting with baited breath, … You know where I’m going, of course. Should the phrase be baited or bated breath? […]

Passive Aggression

Blowout party with cake The Supreme Court hearings in Washington have primed me for a rant. No, not a political rant. You can find those everywhere you look on the internet. What I have in mind to rant about, instead, is the passive voice. It brings out the aggressiveness in me. Not passive aggression, but […]

Is It Fun or Is It ‘Barbarous’?

End of the “Cretinaceous” — not much fun Fun is a funny word. The dictionary says it’s a noun, which is clear in sentences like: We had fun (fun is the object of the verb had) The roller coaster was a lot of fun (here, fun is the object of the preposition of) In recent years, however, fun has also come […]

PORE vs. POUR

A couple of weeks ago (July 3), Donald Trump – who claims to take pride in his ability to write – published a tweet that read, in part, “…the Fake News constantly likes to pour over my tweets looking for a mistake.” Far be it from me to dump on a guy who, even if […]

TOE the Line vs. TOW the Line

Toeing the line Here’s an amusing misuse of a common phrase – “toe the line.” Some writers mistakenly render it “tow the line.” The right way, using the word “toe,” creates the image of someone placing his or her foot exactly at the line – perhaps a starting line for a race or, more commonly, […]

Kisses and Buses: Do You Know the Difference?

Can you tell the difference between a kiss and a bus? What a crazy question! A kiss is a smooch and a bus is a coach, two entirely different things (that almost rhyme). Do you know any other words for kiss? Probably very few. Smooch is pretty good, and if you want to pile on […]