Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Who Bans Books? Islamic Groups

Yesterday, I wrote about the history of book censorship in the Catholic Church, but it certainly isn't the only religious group to try to keep certain texts out of its adherents' hands. Different Islamic groups and authorities have also condemned books — and even called for the murder of their authors — that were seen as antithetical to or blasphemous toward Muslim doctrine.

New Word Wednesday: imprimatur

When we're talking about a group censoring books (and thus ideas) — as I did yesterday in my post about censorship in the Catholic Church — it's fitting that we also talk about the opposite. True, over the last 450 years, the Catholic Church has tried to weed out and protect its pious members from the dangers of unethical, erroneous, and heretical ideas, but most books go through the process unscathed and make it to publication.

Which brings us to today's word: imprimatur.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Who Bans Books? The Catholic Church

Banned Books Week always brings out some wild stories about books being banned for outrageous reasons. My favorite has always been the one about Fahrenheit 451 being banned because it's about the horrible and detrimental act of book burning. I have no idea whether it's true that a book was censored because it was about censorship, but it's a clear sign of the kind of idiocy and irony we have come to accept. And my joyful reaction to that story is, I admit, a type of intellectual Schadenfreude.

But whenever I hear these stories, and especially during Banned Books Week, I am always left wondering who it is that is doing the banning. What people or groups claim to have the authority to keep other people from looking at words on a page?

Monday, September 28, 2015 By Editors, For Editors

For twenty-five years, has been a great rallying point and resource for copy editors in all media and at all skill levels. It offers daily posts about grammar, language, style, technology, and job opportunities; monthly educational audioconferences; a job board; and even information about editing Canadian versus American English.

Not to mention nearly three dozen posts by yours truly. (Last Friday's "(Nearly) Identical Twins" is a pretty fun word game, if I do say so myself.)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rewriting prompt: One-syllable edits

Start with a copy of a bit of fiction that you've already written — 200–300 words ought to do it. Rewrite the section using only one-syllable words. Proper nouns are exempt from this shortening, of course; if your story is about Julie from Schenectady, it can still be about her.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

National Punctuation Day 2015

Today is National Punctuation Day, that day when we thank our grade-school English teachers, mock misused apostrophes wherever we find them (which is everywhere), and reaffirm our belief that those who don't use the serial comma (or do, depending on your beliefs) are evil clarity-haters spreading heretical grammar far and wide.

Or something like that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Word Wednesday: heresiarch

It isn't often anymore that I come across a word I've never seen before, so when I found heresiarch while editing a project about early Christian theology, I got all giddy and excited.

Yeah, I'm a nerd.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New Word Wednesday: taphophile

Do you like gravestones? Do you think a cemetery is the perfect place for a Sunday afternoon picnic? Did you use up a whole day of your European vacation to drag your family through the catacombs of Rome?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Go Read This Stuff - 9/14/15

In lieu of a depressing/inspiring quotation about the writing life, I offer you three recent posts from other language bloggers that I certainly found interesting, and I hope you do, too. (Headings are links.)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Writing Prompt: The Evil Hero

Think of one of your favorite fictional heroes or heroines, not necessarily a superhero — lord knows we've seen plenty of those these days — but a favorite heroic character. You could choose Beowulf, Albus Dumbledore, Miss Marple, Katniss Everdeen, or, of course, your favorite spandex-wearing comic book character. Whatever. (This might be a good moment to consider what the word heroic means to you.)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Words Used Carelessly

I like this quotation from Douglas Adams's the Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul — "Words used carelessly, as if they do not matter in any serious way, often allowed otherwise well-guarded truths to seep through." —because it can be insightful in two ways.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Politics, Second Homes, Hemp, and Vowels

First, check out my new post at in which I talk about canvasing and canvassing. It's called "Canvas(s)ing: A Story of Politics, Second Homes, and Hemp."

Here's a hint that isn't covered in that article. If you're faced with using canvas or canvass, remember this: "Politics puts the ass in canvass."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New Word Wednesday: pediculous

You'll recognize the pedi- root of pediculous from words like pedicure and pedestrian. Seeing that feet is involved, you might surmise that pediculous means "having a large number of feet," like a centipede, a millipede, or the Rockettes.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Writing prompt: Disillusion

Write a scene or story in which your main character discovers she is not who or what she thought she was. This could be an identity crisis, a realization of true authority, or even a disillusionment of supernatural nature.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Perfect Gift

This is a big day for me.  

The Saturday Evening Post published my short story "The Perfect Gift" on its website today! Please take a few moments to check it out and leave a comment (over there, not here).

This is the first short story I've ever sold, and I hope it's just the beginning. I also hope that you writers get the opportunity to feel as good as I do right now.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Logophilius Shop Is Open for Business

Gamers get their own T-shirts. Football aficionados get fake jerseys. Even Star Wars and Doctor Who fans can choose from a plethora of geeky threads to shine the light on their once secret obsessions.

Why shouldn't logophiles have the same options?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Word Wednesday: obsequious

Most words enter our personal vocabularies without much fanfare or attention. Five or ten years later, it's like the word has always been there, that we've always known what it was and how to use it.

But occasionally, a word enters our vocabulary in such a way that we never forget the event. That's how it was, for me, with obsequious.