Category: Language & Writing

Happy Grammar Day

Three posts in three days. I know, right? Better not make this a habit. But how could I let National (not my nation, but who cares?) Grammar Day pass without a tip of the proverbial hat? Especially after coming across this totally cool grammar quiz on the Grammarly Blog via Grammar Girl’s Twitter feed? (Goodness! I’ll stop typing “grammar” now. Okay, a couple more times: grammar; grammar. I’m done now. Promise.)

I lied. I’m not done. But you need to click here to see the rest.

On losing

On losing

I have a theory why online auction sites are so successful, as compared to regular online retailers. Auction sites allow you to win. And winning feels nice.

Think about it: shopping in and of itself makes us feel good. The buyer’s remorse comes later, of course, but at that moment you hand over your cash and take possession of that object that you have coveted for who knows how long, your body gets flooded with all manner of feel-good hormones. (Come to think of it, one could probably consider buyer’s remorse the hangover that occurs when one come off the high produced by this particular naturally produced drug.)

But auction sites take it a step further. Even before you hold that coveted item in your hands you get to experience the unsurpassed joy that’s produced when the message flashes across the screen that you have won the auction.

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On false starts, birthdays and changing one’s mind

On false starts, birthdays and changing one’s mind

Man, I’m out of practice with fiction writing.

NaNoWriMo is going quite well, word count-wise. Day one started with a bang, well, actually not, as I started writing at midnight and the wife was already in bed, so I kept it quiet. But it started well with me exceeding my quota in the first day. The following few days saw me missing my quota, though it was still a vast improvement over last year where I couldn’t start writing until day four.

I reached both the five and ten thousand word milestones only two days behind schedule and was all set of a 5k-Sunday which would have put me back on track and in a good position to build up a lead for the three days I’ll be missing when I attend a conference from tomorrow.

Then I hit a snag. Click here to find out more.

Percussive Etymology – Rule of Thumb

Percussive Etymology – Rule of Thumb

It’s time again for Percussive Etymology (now sporting its very own header, courtesy of the wife). In this fortnightly feature my trusty hammer and I will explore the origins of one of the many quirky phrases contained in the English language.

Percussive EtymologyThe continued positive response to this feature truly warms my heart. Following the brass monkey shenanigans I have been inundated with suggestions of other phrases to mutilate explain, and even a specific request to once more debunk a popular fallacy regarding the origins of a particular expression. While mythbusting was not part of my initial plan for this feature, I acknowledge that I can provide a valuable service to the linguistic sciences by making this small addition.

In that vein we will today address the expression “rule of thumb”, suggested by Misha Burnett. (By the way, Misha recently published the final instalment in his Book of Lost Doors trilogy, The Worms of Heaven. Why don’t you stop by his blog and give it a look?)

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Percussive Etymology – Cold enough to freeze something off a brass monkey

It’s time for the second instalment of Percussive Etymology. In this fortnightly feature my trusty hammer and I will explore the origins of one of the many quirky phrases contained in the English language.

Percussive EtymologyAfter the resounding success of my post on “gumming up the works” it’s a bit intimidating to write another one of these. What if people don’t like it as much? What if I get no comments at all? What if I unwittingly offend my readers and they all unfollow this blog at once? (Do bestselling authors live with this pressure each time they submit a new novel to their publishers?)

However, let no man person call me a coward. Today’s phrase (and pardon the French), “Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”. Thanks to Matthew Wright for the suggestion.

(By the way, the best part of today’s post is at the very end, below the line.)

Continue reading “Percussive Etymology – Cold enough to freeze something off a brass monkey”