Bloody Well Write

September 24, 2009

National Punctuation Day®

Filed under: grammar,punctuation — bloodywellwrite @ 12:39 pm
Tags: , ,

Today is Thursday, September 24, 2009 — the sixth annual celebration of National Punctuation Day (NPD). Punctuation ensures that groups of words make more sense and take on more meaning than you can shake a stick at.

Hooray for punctuation!

In 2004, NPD was founded by Jeff Rubin, a former newspaper guy. In 1981, Rubin started The Newsletter Guy, a newsletter publishing firm. Rubin is also a public speaker, addressing effective writing and marketing techniques. I bet that he also addresses the importance of proper punctuation — but that’s just a guess.

Check out the official Web site. It offers some of the standard stuff (e.g., definitions of each punctuation mark, examples of punctuation gone awry, a resources section); most notable, perhaps, is the information concerning the baking contest. Send in two photos of your masterpiece — one of it going into the oven raw and one of it coming out, all warm and yummy — and you may win a bunch of non-edible NPD stuff. How cool is that?! Very, I say.

Doesn't a bake-off seem like a better idea?! (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/3367193003)

Doesn't a bake-off seem like a better idea?! (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/3367193003)

OK, stop messing around here and go bake something with meaning, such as a semicolon or em dash. You know you want to.

Happy trails!

SAK

September 22, 2009

Theatre vs. theater

Some people say that when it comes to spelling that which is theater — er, theatre — it all comes down to snobbery. Well, to that I say,” Poo-poo to you.”

Outside of the United States, especially in countries that had once been under British control, the word is typically spelled theatre. Those who fought to keep the British spelling didn’t want the proper language to become diluted by a bunch of insolent miscreants — bloody Americans. Stateside, however, theater won out as the predominant spelling. Back in the early 1800s, Noah Webster created “An American Dictionary of the English Language” to Americanize the language of the day, taking out as many British-isms as he could manage. One result: Theatre became theater.

It is prudent to maintain the spelling of any company or movie house or whatnot that happens to spell its name one way, even if you think it should be the other. Some examples:

Music Theatre of Wichita

AMC Theatres

Theatre Rhinoceros (but San Francisco Live Queer Theater)

The Theater section of The New York Times

•  “Paradise Theater” by Styx (but Paradise Theatre in Gig Harbor, Wash.)

There is, however, another distinction between the two words that is gaining in popularity. Even though the AP Stylebook hasn’t come around to agreeing yet (but they will), I think that it makes simple sense and provides a reason to use one spelling instead of another, depending on context. And, of course, since the nature of the English language is one of constant transition, I’m all for promoting the separate — yet equal — definitions. (Go ahead, AP: Put up your dukes.)

Going to the theatre tonight — or maybe they ARE the theatre? (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/a2gemma/40151793)

Going to the theatre tonight — or maybe they are the theatre (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/a2gemma/40151793)

Theatre = anything related to a performance or study of an art form, which is not a structure (e.g., a degree, a company, a troupe).

Theater = a structure that houses a dramatic production (e.g., movie, play, musical, opera, ballet, dance).

So: If you are going to the theater (bricks and mortar) to work on scene construction or set up lights or mow the front lawn, cool. If you’re getting all dolled up for an evening at the theatre (very posh), have a mahhhvelous time, dahhhling.

Easy as “Waiting for Godot.”

Happy trails!

SAK

September 10, 2009

Into vs. in to

Filed under: grammar,spelling — bloodywellwrite @ 1:31 pm
Tags: ,

This one, folks, is a simple concept.

Into
Use into if you are describing something in motion or something completely entranced with something else:

• She walked into the shoe store.
• The kids jumped into the piles of leaves.
• He is turning into a werewolf.
• They were totally into Jim Morrison’s poetry.

The muddy boys are jumping into the lake (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laffy4k/247066114)

The muddy boys are jumping into the lake (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laffy4k/247066114)

In to
Use in to if in is used as an adverb and to is used as a preposition connecting the verb to an indirect object.

Think of it this way: If the sentence could technically end after in, then you can add a prepositional phrase (i.e., a non-necessary phrase that starts with a preposition and adds a bit of detail to the sentence) by using to after in (but not changing in to into.

Clear as mud? Here are some examples:

• The concerned citizen turned the wallet in to the police. (It could easily read The concerned citizen turned the wallet in. The prepositional phrase is to the police — interesting additional info but not completely necessary for the completion of the sentence.)
• I will not give in to chocolate cravings.
• He was nervous about handing his assignment in to the instructor.

Pooch gave in to the power of nap time (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nesster/3701101878)

Pooch gave in to the power of nap time (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nesster/3701101878)

See? I told you it was a breeze.

Happy trails!

SAK

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