Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Banished Words List

Here we are on the cusp of a new calendar year. Mayan doomsday predictions aside, 2012 was one tough year for many people I know. Let’s hope 2013 is a better year for all of us.

To start the year off right, we’re going to take a look at 2013’s “List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness” as compiled by Lake Superior State University. According to a page on the university’s website, this tongue-in-cheek banishment list began on New Year’s Day in 1976 as a publicity stunt for the school. Since then, “People from around the world have nominated hundreds of words and phrases such as ‘you know,’ ‘user friendly,’ ‘at this point in time,’ and ‘have a nice day,’ to be purged from the language.”

If you have a few moments, peruse the annual list archives (you can find the link on the left side of the banished words web page). It’s interesting how certain words or phrases come to define events and time periods – and how many of those entries are still in frequent use!

Without further ado, here is the 2013 list of words that should be banished from the English language:

fiscal cliff
kick the can down the road
double down
job creators/creation
YOLO (an acronym for "You Only Live Once")
spoiler alert
bucket list
boneless wings

To read complete entries and commentaries for this year's words, go to

And now, let's raise our glasses, coffee cups, or other appropriate beverage containers and make a toast for a peaceful and prosperous new year! Happy 2013 everyone.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

No Typo Apocalypse

So here we are on December 22nd, and everything is pretty much as we left it yesterday. Apparently there may have been a significant typo in that Mayan calendar…

Yesterday was not the end of the world, nor was it the end of the road for typos. Here are six recent examples:

- “Correpondent” (the ‘s’ is missing) instead of “correspondent” during a national news segment.

- “Free reign” instead of the correct phrase, “free rein.” “Reign” means to rule; “rein” is a strap connected to a horse bridle that is used to control the horse. To give something “free rein” is to let it run wild or free, just as a horse would if you let go of the reins.

- “The fire broke out at a Duplex…” The word “duplex” is a simple noun, not a proper noun requiring capitalization. The writer apparently thought this particular duplex was pretty darned important, though, because he capitalized it twice in the same story.

- In the same story about the duplex fire, the writer said investigators were trying to determine whether embers “reignighted” and caused the fire. The correct word is “reignited.”

- A fresh headline from a local news station’s website reads, “Boy hit by in leg bullet.” There’s some serious juxtaposition going on there…

- Then there’s a story posted at a different online news station’s website about norovirus making the rounds. The writer advises readers that the virus can be spread by “touching touching a contaminated surface.” Perhaps touching a contaminated surface once isn’t enough.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Little Logic, Please

One element of good writing that I haven’t really focused on in this blog is logic. But that’s okay, because apparently other writers don’t focus on it, either.

Case in point: These opening lines from an online news story about a fire.

“A small grass fire in Cheyenne Canyon is quickly put out but it may take a while to determine why it began.

“Around 4:30 pm Friday, fire fighters found a car in flames off Old Stage Road. The fire had spread to nearby brush but only scorched about one-tenth of an acre before it was put out.”

The first sentence is telling us that the cause of the grass fire has yet to be determined. Yet the second sentence clearly says that the fire spread from a burning car to its surroundings.

So it’s obvious how the grass/brush fire began: a burning car. What remains unknown is how and/or why the car caught fire.

There was also a typo at the end of the story (were instead of where), but that’s nothing new these days.

Just remember: A little logic can go a long way in the writing world…

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Dirty Dozen

These typos come from a variety of online sources. Enjoy! (Or bang your head on the desk. Whatever you feel is most appropriate.)

Fromer Greeley business owner sentenced for securities fraud

…Some gains been made in women's rights…

She is currently carrying for the dog.

Colorado Springs police have its hands full…

At it's largest, the fire could be seen for miles, "A lot of different people saw it…”

…Police followed up eye witness reports and leads that which led investigators…

We are in sneak peak mode.

We definitely scratched out heads watching the first sixty seconds of this 'math' video.

Beautiful Home Is 211-Years-Old

…they're letting Black Forest voters chose, putting the mill levy on the upcoming ballot.

In that process oil is laid down with lose gravel…

The ricocheted and hit the woman.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Another Example of Why Good Writing Skills Matter

Think a mistake on your resume is no big deal? Think again.

Last night, 60 Minutes ran a story about the difficulty that some U.S. manufacturing companies face in hiring competent and skilled employees. One of the companies highlighted in the segment was Click Bond, a fasteners manufacturer in Reno, Nevada, that makes parts for planes, ships, and trains and has the Defense Department as one of its customers.

Ryan Costella, head of Strategic Initiatives at Click Bond, had this to say about problems his company faces in hiring entry-level employees:

“It's those basic skill sets...I can't tell you how many people even coming out of higher ed with degrees who can't put a sentence together without a major grammatical error. It's a problem. If you can't do the resume properly to get the job, you can't come work for us. We're in the business of making fasteners that hold systems together that protect people in the air when they're flying.  We're in the business of perfection.”

Basic skill sets. That’s all they’re looking for to get in the door. And yet many applicants will be rejected because they couldn’t bother to get the resume right.

Good writing matters.