Bloody Well Write

July 31, 2009

Barbecue vs. barbeque vs. BBQ

Filed under: AP Stylebook,spelling — bloodywellwrite @ 3:55 pm
Tags: , , ,

Ah, summer. Gotta love all the food that seems to go so well with summer’s rising temperatures. Take, for instance, BBQ.

Or is it barbeque? Or bar-b-que? Or barbecue?

It’s not quite as sticky a situation as it may first appear.

I just verified the answer in the trusty AP Stylebook, and it states, plain as a pulled-pork stain: barbecue.

Run, Wilbur, run

Run, Wilbur, run

No q, no abbreviation (although if you’ve already spent the money on the big neon sign — with the wrong spelling — and it’s been attracting patrons for years on end, then by all means, don’t worry about changing the sign).

Happy trails!



July 29, 2009

The interrobang: Say what‽

This gorgeous, little punctuation mark is currently making a name for itself in grammar circles and, hopefully, beyond.

“But what the heck is it‽” you exclaim (and rightly so, as it is an unusual beast).

The interrobang shows surprise and question

The interrobang shows surprise and question

Read the entire article.

July 28, 2009

One space after a period

Filed under: grammar,punctuation — bloodywellwrite @ 4:59 pm
Tags: ,

Back in the day when “back in the day” wasn’t a grossly overused phrase, English teachers taught their students that every sentence ends with some form of punctuation: a question mark, an exclamation point, a period. And that punctuation necessarily is followed by two (count ’em, two) spaces before the next sentence officially begins.

That’s how I learned it.

That period-double-space thing was for school term papers, tests and such. And it was for the birds. Why in the world would we knowingly force our thumb to do the unnatural act of pressing down on the space bar twice at one shot? We were told that it helped the reader by providing more of a visual stop. Really? That black spot at the end of a decently written sentence isn’t enough of a clarification that the sentence is done, so a little extra white space should do the trick? Hmmm. Suspect.

In today’s fast-paced, cram-it-all-in society, that white space has been nudged out. And I, for one, am happy about that.

Although I do see a lot of period-double-space configurations in my editing work, the publishing tool that I currently work with mysteriously (and thankfully) eliminates one of those spaces — I don’t care which one, just that one is, indeed, obliterated, thank you very much.

Just remember that the English language morphs as it goes along, so it’s now OK to throw caution to the wind and only include one space after the ending punctuation. And if you happen to run into your middle school teacher, smile sweetly and say that you have fond memories of those days.

Happy trails!


July 27, 2009

Under way vs. underway

Filed under: grammar — bloodywellwrite @ 5:03 pm
Tags: ,

This is a no-brainer.

Under way is two words, every time, with only one exception — when it is used in a nautical sense as an adjective before a noun: The HMS Murray was underway.

A vessel is determined to be underway if it:

• Is not docked

• Does not have a lowered anchor

• Is not fastened in any way to a stationary object

• Is not being propelled

Underway is distinct from making way, which implies propulsion. So if a boat is just floating, engines off, anchor up, unattached, it is underway.

It is two words — under way — in every other instance (no matter what you read on the Net): The dress rehearsal is under way. The sewing project is under way. The naval maneuvers are under way.

Crazy what you learn when you think it’s a no-brainer, huh?

Happy trails!


July 20, 2009

Real estate agent vs. Realtor

Filed under: grammar — bloodywellwrite @ 10:47 am
Tags: , , ,

If you’ve dabbled at all in the real estate market, you’ve no doubt come to know that a real estate agent is, in fact, not the same thing as a Realtor.

A Realtor (the term is a service mark and, as such, demands an initial cap R) is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

That not just a real estate agent

Not all real estate agents are Realtors

The NAR is a trade organization for real estate agents; it provides comprehensive information — including classes, research, a trade-specific magazine and activities — for its members. Founded in 1908, the NAR now has more than 1.3 million members. Its core purpose is to help its members become more profitable and successful.

To join the NAR, real estate agents must first join their local real estate board. At that point, they are free to become an NAR member. This, of course, prohibits people such as me (wanna-be real estate agents) from joining just for the fun of it. Because you know I would.

The main point of this entry is this: Don’t go throwing around the term Realtor willy-nilly. Verify that the agent you’re referring to is, indeed a member of the NAR and then use either Realtor or real estate agent accordingly.

And please note that there is only one a in Realtor; it should be pronounced as it’s spelled (real-tor) — not real-a-tor. Realtors will thank you much.

Happy trails!


July 17, 2009


Filed under: grammar — bloodywellwrite @ 1:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

Yes, that’s correct.

No, I didn’t misspell the title of this entry.

There is no “n” in the word that describes the proprietor of a restaurant.

Even if it’s a hillbilly restaurant. Still no “n.”

They "got the weenies"

They "got the weenies"

Just for fun
You have to hear the HillBilly Hot Dogs theme song. (Turn your computer’s speakers on and up.) And if you’re ever in Lesage or Huntington, W.V., stop by this joint for some grub: As the song says, they “got the weenies!”

Happy trails!


July 16, 2009

Mom and Dad

Filed under: grammar — bloodywellwrite @ 11:49 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Dear, old mom and dad; they’ve treated you so well, looked after you when you were sick, provided clothes, education, fun and love unconditionally, and all you can do to say thank you is relegate them to a simple noun? Come one. Where’s the love?

What’s being called into question here is how you write (or type or text) mom and dad. Should they be uppercase or lowercase? Mom or mom? Dad or dad?

As with just about everything else in life, it depends.

Go ahead: Bribe me with Chunky Monkey (I'll bite)

Go ahead: Bribe me with Chunky Monkey (I'll bite)

You want easy answers? You got ’em.

If you’re referencing your folks as if you’re using their names (not their given names, as most kids don’t ask their folks, “Yo, Johnny boy and mamma Mia, what’s for dinner?” but instead the names you have called them since you could talk: Mom and Dad), then you uppercase the terms:

• Hey, Mom, can I have some ice cream?
• I love Dad because he lets me stay up later than Mom does.
• I don’t know if I should take the convertible; I guess I should probably ask Dad.

If you’re referencing your folks (or your friend’s folks) with an adjective in front of the word, then you lowercase mom or dad:

• My mom gave me three ginormous scoops of Chunky Monkey ice cream.
• I love my dad because he lets me stay up to watch “Saturday Night Live.” My mom would have a cow if she knew.
• Should we take the convertible? In theory, we should ask your dad.

Would your dad hand you the keys?

Would your dad hand you the keys?

That’s it — no adjective, uppercase. Adjective, lowercase. Now go tell your mom thanks for all the frozen treats she’s let you snarf.

Happy trails!


July 14, 2009

Regardless vs. irregardless

Filed under: grammar — bloodywellwrite @ 10:56 am
Tags: , ,

There’s no such word.

Isn’t that what you hear when one person uses irregardless and another person corrects the first person, saying that the correct word is regardless? Funny thing, though: According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, there is such a word, albeit a not-well-regarded one. Here’s what the online mother of all dictionaries has to say:

Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

Aha! Since Merriam-Webster states that it is, indeed, a real word, doesn’t that give you license to use it?

It's not too cool for fashion, either.

It's not too cool for fashion, either

Nope. That last line — “Use regardless instead” — stands firm. Although plenty of folks say irregardless, that doesn’t make it correct. The theory of its origin is that irregardless is a fusion of irrespective and regardless. It probably started because someone was trying to sound smart in front of some friends and it just caught on, like a bad trend. Just a guess.

Regardless (ahem) of how it started, it would be very cool of you to use regardless instead. You’ll sound smarter if you do.

Happy trails!


July 13, 2009

Academic degrees: Is there a doctor in the house?

Those fancy initials at the end of your doctor’s name make your doc seem more valid somehow, more intelligent, don’t they? They make you trust your physician more than if you were talking colon issues or dermatological concerns with, say, your best friend’s kid brother. Well, your doctor had to put forth a lot of effort to get those little tagalong letters at the end of his or her name (in most cases, anyway). Universities made a pretty penny off of those med students, and many a textbook had coffee stains on them while your physician was struggling to get through med school.

But wait. What about the Ph.D., M.A. and B.G.S. recipients who are not medical doctors? They, too, lost countless hours of sleep cramming for exams, just so they could add a couple of cool letters to their names. (OK, so that’s not the only reason they went to school, but you get the drift for this discussion.) Somehow, though, these folks often get mocked for trying to tag their academic degrees to their names in any public forum — which, in my opinion, is too bad. They worked just as hard for their degrees — no matter that it was in history or English or mathematics — so why shouldn’t they get the recognition, as well?

Regardless, the preferred way to mention someone’s credentials is not with abbreviations, but with a phrase, such as Dr. Sarah Sneed, a marine biologist or Dr. Evil, a mad scientist; the added language offers more description and less pomp. Sometimes, pomp is plenty good. And sometimes, pomp is just annoying. Use discretion.

One of my favorite "doctors"

One of my favorite "doctors"

The AP Stylebook recommends using abbreviations only when mentioning several people at the same time, making a phrase that describes each person’s credentials cumbersome. At that point, use the degree only at the end of the recipient’s full name on the first mention and drop it on subsequent mentions. Remember to set the degree off with commas:

• Marcus Welby, M.D.
• Bob Smith, Ph.D., presented his lecture. Dr. Smith received a round of applause.
• Dr. Sarah Sneed, a marine biologist, is a vegetarian.
• Oh, to write like the author Dr. Seuss — my writing, I fear, is much too loose.
• In attendance were Bill Black, Ph.D., Sherri White, M.A., Todd Green, D.D.S., and Erin Plum, M.D.

Note that when a title comes at the beginning of the person’s name, the degree does not follow. It’s Dr. Sarah Sneed, not Dr. Sarah Sneed, M.D.

I, by the way, am no doctor. I would’ve liked to have played one on TV, though.

Happy trails!


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