Showing posts from February, 2012

WNW: Leap Day Edition

For today's Word Nerd Wednesday, I'm taking advantage of an event that happens only once every four years. We won't be talking about what a leap year or leap day is, but in honor of leap day, here are some old, obscure definitions of leap, for the pleasure of true word nerds, from the OED:
1796: The sudden fall of a river to a lower level.
1486: Supposedly a name for a group of leopards, spelled as lepe.
1747: In mining, a fault or dislocation of the strata
1620: Parched peas, as in leap pease.
1607: The action of a female animal. (Why a male animal doesn't leap in the seventeenth century, I have no idea.)
And my favorite, because it sounds so cool, like you could build a story around it:
1698: A leap in the dark, "a hazardous action taken with uncertain consequences"
And that's just a few of the definitions for the noun (another is a basket for fish; I had no idea). The verb form has even more definitions.
Happy leap day!

WNW: One or Two Spaces?

Several weeks ago, while waiting to meet with the family after church, Erin and I started talking about our daughters, who are now great friends. Then she mentioned Word Nerd Wednesday and a possible topic.
I wondered why I hadn't addressed it before:
What's the rule for spaces after a period: one or two?

First the short answer, and then the explanation for the longer answer:
With very few exceptions, use ONE space.

I know that saying so will make a lot of people annoyed with me. Sorry! I know how hard it is to retrain your thumb to not hit the space bar twice.
I learned this the hard way with my first freelance article job. The editor (kindly) asked me to submit my future work with one space so she didn't have to remove the extra spaces for me. I got motivated (hey, money and bylines were on the line!) and quickly trained myself to do one space.
To understand today's rule, we need to understand the old one.

Why we needed two spaces in the past:
If you're 35 or older (rai…

Super Cool Essay Book

I don't remember how I first came across DeNae Handy and her blog, My Read Life Was Backordered. I do remember laughing myself silly reading several posts, coming close to wetting my pants more than once.
The first time I met her in real life was about a year and a half ago at the Casual Bloggers Conference, where we were both speaking. She was as fun, funny, and awesome in person as she was on her blog. Turns out, DeNae is a great writer as well as a great person and friend.
Several months ago, DeNae asked me if I'd like to be part of an essay collection with a bunch of really cool people. The book would be about our lives—our real, normal, Mormon lives, complete with the chaos of motherhood (or fatherhood), the highs and the lows of faith and family. Nothing saccharine or preachy, just great essays about what it's like being who we are.
I immediately said yes, and the final book will be available really soon, to premiere at the Story @ Home conference (where DeNae and I ar…

WNW: Valentine's Day Edition

For today's Word Nerd Wednesday, I'm chiming in a day late with relationship words in other languages.
This one's inspired by an article in Big Think by Pamela Haag. I stumbled upon it some time ago that listed top 10 foreign words about relationships that have no English equivalent.
Of course, the word nerd in me was all over that.
I love how languages have nuance and meaning, and how even a pretty simple translation from one language to another often lacks some of the feel and flavor of the original.
For example (taking a brief departure from Valentine's Day):
Two of my favorite words of all time are Finnish and have no English equivalent: sisu [SEE-soo] and jaksa [YAHK-saw].
Sisu is sometimes translated as "guts," but that's an incredibly lame word for it. Sisu is more of the drive, the fire, the power in someone who endures and comes out the other end. Sort of. You have to know the Finnish to really get it. If you can endure a really hot Finnish sauna t…

Sherri Needs New Lungs

Next month marks 23 years since a landmark day in my family, a time that forever changed me.
My baby nephew received a liver transplant within days of his first birthday. In 1989, infant liver transplants were new. Something like two hospitals in the nation were doing them, and only a few hundred infant liver transplants had even been attempted. Omaha had one of those hospitals. A good number of infants didn't make it.
Michael almost didn't. I remember phone calls across the country to plan a funeral. Tears. My brother and his wife practically living at the hospital. Reports that Michael's bed looked like it was covered in plastic spaghetti because of all the tubes. It was one of the first times in my life I dropped to my knees and sobbed with a desperate prayer. He pulled through.
Then, at nineteen, having defied every odd, Michael was called to serve an LDS mission, and this spring, he graduates from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree and a teaching cer…

WNW: Use (and Abuse) of the Semicolon

FIRST OFF, some news . . . Back by popular demand: Precision Editing Group is hosting their next Live Critique Workshop in a month! It'll be held at the American Fork Library on Saturday, March 3rd. Attendees are divided among tables, and they get to work with an instructor (staff are all both published writers and professional editors) assigned to each table. Bring along several pages of a work in progress to be workshopped. It's a great learning experience and a bargain to boot. But space IS limited. For full information and instructions for registering, visit the PEG Workshop blog.
Now to today's topic.
Of late, I've come across oodles of egregious semicolon abuse, and it's made me realize that
a) Not everyone in the world loves that little punctuation mark like I do and
b) Fewer know how to use it.
This post is my small attempt to help a bit in rectifying the numbers of both camps.
First off, let's debunk a common misconception.
Myth: Semicolons are totally outd…