Writing for Business

September 24, 2012  6:48 PM

It’s Punctuation Day. Here — have some more!

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Did you know that September 24th, 2012 is Punctuation Day‽  It’s also Bluebird of Happiness Day, which surely cannot be a coincidence. I love punctuation!

The National Punctuation Day website provides standard punctuation and information about each item.

Wikipedia has an interesting entry on punctuation and some related entries about non-standard punctuation. Maybe teacher never told you, but there are punctuation marks that haven’t gone mainstream, although maybe they should. See that exclamation point/question mark image to the left (and also after the first sentence)? It’s the interrobang, a single character that indicates that the question is asked in an excited manner. So much more elegant than separate punctuation, especially if multiples are used.

Martin K. Speckter invented the interrobang in 1962. Speckter, who was the head of an ad agency, thought that ads would look a lot better with a single character to display both enthusiasm and inquisitiveness. He was right! Although the interrobang has never become standard-issue punctuation, it’s there for you to use, in the Wingdings font.

And then there’s the irony mark. Alcanter de Brahm, a French poet, promoted this backwards question mark  in the 19th century and various proponents have campaigned for it since. It’s never caught on though, and that has led to a great deal of ambiguity.

Surely the world would be a better place if we signaled our ironic statements clearly ؟

Go ahead — celebrate National Punctuation Day with some new punctuation. Enjoy it responsibly!

See more punctuation-related posts here.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar.

September 24, 2012  1:28 PM

The importance of careful language

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

I was surprised, recently, by a message from Donna Morton, an indigenous peoples activist and CEO of the green tech company First Power. Donna was commenting on our use of the word “savage.” She said it had made her sad. The content was a quiz on, ironically enough, netiquette — proper online behavior: Netiquette savvy or savage? After consulting with Donna and considering the implications of the word, I edited the title to be simply “Quiz: Netiquette” and removed another instance of “savage” in the introduction. The original title is, at this moment, still in the URL but it will be fixed when the tech people can get to it.

When I wrote that quiz, I’m sure I was just pleased to come up with a snappy title and never stopped to consider that it might be considered disrespectful. I don’t associate the word “savage” with indigenous peoples and never have. However, it’s been a derogatory term applied to them for centuries and so it was not a good choice to use in reference to ill-mannered behavior.

I know that the many indigenous cultures around the world are varied and rich and I hope and pray that those cultures and their wisdom may be preserved. I also know that the behavior of supposedly civilized peoples of European origin is responsible for a lot of damage to indigenous peoples and cultures. Their behavior was often savage and the damage continues to this day. The last thing I would ever want to do is to add insult to that injury.

I would never have used that word if I’d thought about it carefully. Although when we hear the word etiquette, we might think of Emily Post and white gloves, the concept is important and always relevant. It’s as true online as it is offline: Good manners are about consideration for the people we share this planet with. And words matter.

See more about Donna Morton and her mission here.

Follow me on Twitter@tao_of_grammar.

September 20, 2012  6:29 PM

Grammar Glossary

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The phrase “fear, uncertainty and doubt” is an example of:

a. an apposition 
b. an epenthetic 
c. a tricolon

Continued »

September 18, 2012  6:14 PM

Writing numbers and numerals: One exception to the rules

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
According to Google, ____________ viewers prefer the TrueView skippable ad format to other in-stream video ads.
a. eight out of 10
b. eight out of ten
c. 8 out of 10
Continued »

September 17, 2012  1:09 PM

Do respect vs. due respect

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
With all ________ to large vendors, startups and small businesses are more likely to innovate.
a. do respect
b. due respect
Continued »

September 13, 2012  1:55 PM

Eek out vs. eke out

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Data center managers try to maximize energy efficiency to ______ more life from older facilities.
a. eek out
b. eke out
Continued »

September 12, 2012  1:57 PM

Wind turban or wind turbine

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The manufacturer’s commitment to clean technology is demonstrated through its on-site ___________, waste heat and rainwater collection, recycling and energy-efficient buildings.
a. wind turbans
b. wind turbines
Continued »

September 10, 2012  2:05 PM

“augurs well” vs. “all goes well”

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The percentages of salary raises in the industry __________ for IT employment prospects.
a. augurs well
b. all goes well
Continued »

August 31, 2012  1:22 PM

The difference between “dependent” and “dependant”

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The ________ variable is what is being measured in an experiment.

a. dependent
b. dependant

Continued »

August 29, 2012  12:27 PM

Sometimes the best edit is a rewrite

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
I’d like to offer __________ to manage the project.

a. myself and Bob
b. Bob and myself
c. neither of the above

Continued »

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