I’d be grateful if you checked out this blog on The Independent, written by the daughter of good friends, someone I’ve known since she was a baby, and whose daughter is affected by Rett Syndrome.
It is written from the heart, about a condition most of you won’t, thankfully, have any idea about.
All I’m trying to do is spread the word about the condition. It’s up to you what you do.
Maybe not quite so relevant to my overseas readers, but for anyone local – ie in Nottinghamshire (UK) or nearby, the Nottinghamshire Festival of Words is on now and for the next couple of weeks.
Go to their site for more information, but in summary:
The first Nottingham Festival of Words welcomes all lovers of words to Nottingham.
Events will be taking place at Newstead Abbey, Nottingham Trent University’s Newton Building, Nottingham Playhouse, Lakeside Arts Centre, Wollaton Hall, Debbie Bryan’s shop, Jam Cafe, Broadway and other venues around the city. Authors taking part include Michael Rosen, Alice Oswald, AL Kennedy and David Almond.
There will be a diverse range of other author talks and readings, children’s events, panels, workshops and activities involving words in one form or another.
Taking its inspiration from Nottingham’s lace industry, an important thread in the city’s heritage, the festival complements the Lace Season events occurring throughout the city.
There are some very word-specific workshops and talks taking place, on the use of language, how to cause certain emotions to arise, and how to sell with words. Check out their flyer and site for fuller information.
A fellow specialist-group poster, Duke Pennell, has reminded me of some of the problems that can arise with omitted or misplaced commas in a recent posting. The headline of this piece changes sense dramatically if you modify it to: “Let’s eat, Grandma!”
In my local paper (Newark Advertiser, 6th Feb 2013) there is a lovely piece about some confusion over an invitation to an evening of love, poetry and music. I am not sure if some of the would-be attendees were thrilled by the prospect, or disgusted that such things could be going on in this rural area… However, it transpires this was an evening of love poetry; those attending were expected to recite their favourite poem…
I’ve touched on this before – the omission (or incorrect inclusion) of such a tiny thing as a comma, a hyphen or a decimal point can have expensive and far-reaching consequences – not only for the grandmas of this world, but for all businesses and organisations. I know I have an interest in this, but, come on – is it worth skimping on the proofreading, when the potential of an error can be so serious?
And how about the misplaced or omitted letter that your spell checker doesn’t pick up. Does your manger really want you to meet the pubic health inspector? Do you send beast wishes to acquaintances?
We have all encountered the odd glitch while on holiday in English-speaking countries, when their use of English doesn’t quite match that of the UK. We can either be mystified (try giving a car registration to an American, say XYZ, as ‘ex-why-zed’ and see the puzzled look – until you remember your Sesame Street and call it ‘ex-why-zee’) or confused (the practice of putting month and day the other way around in US -influenced locations, thus 2nd March is 03/02/2013 rather than our usual 02/03/2013).
It can be painful or embarrassing (durex in Australia was a common trade name for sellotape). Follow this link for an interesting article written by a Guardian staffer in response to some complaints on the amount of Americanisms in the paper…
For more possible confusions, you may like to look at this link before you start your travels…
No, it’s not killing off your elderly relations…
This is a term used for the slow descent into everyday usage of words which have been trademarked or registered as brand names.
How many of us have Hoovered the floor (probably with a Dyson), grabbed a Bic to write a Post-it Note before we luxuriate in our Jacuzzi (and taking with us, a nice Thermos of hot coffee) – then mop up the splashed water off the Linoleum before creating a PowerPoint presentation. Then taken an Aspirin after Xeroxing a copy of the presentation, and sticking a Band-aid on our poorly finger….
All of these are trademarks, and should not be used to refer to the generic item. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it sure as hell destroys and weakens your identity.
As a professional proofreader and editor, part of my brief is to watch out for errors of this sort – and possibly protect you from legal action, depending on how and where you used the offending term…
If you are interested – and who couldn’t be! – check out some of these sites for more information on this subject
This is a little to one side of the blog, but it links to how quickly you read. The average is around 300 words per minute, but clearly this is affected by the type and complexity of the subject matter.
The American arm of Staples, the stationery store, has recently launched a simple diagnostic tool which checks your comprehension of an article and then indicates your reading speed, allowing you to compare it (as if you are interested) (of course you are!) with averages from readers of different education levels.
Then it shows how quickly you could read, at the rate you recorded, a range of different novels or books: apparently, it would take me just over 16 hours to read War and Peace, or nearly 22 hours to read the bible. Then it shows (the real purpose of the tool) how many books that different eReaders would provide, on a single charge, for your own reading speed! (It assumes a ‘typical’ book is around 137K words). You can take the test several times, as different reading passages come up.
Just a bit of fun, as Rob Brydon would probably have said…
Click here for the diagnostic tool
If the body parts puzzle was hard, how about naming at least 10 countries which only have four letters in their name…
Easy: Iraq, Iran, …