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Surfin’: Still Fixing Our Writing


By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ assembles the responses to last week’s attempt at fixing our diction.

In response to last week’s visit to a website that attempts to correct our bad writing habits, some Surfin’ readers sent me their pet peeves regarding the misuse of the King’s English on the Internet.

Mike Everette, W4SDE, alerted me to a particularly annoying ham-centric writing problem: writing the word “ham” using all capital letters. “Ham” is not an abbreviation, acronym or initialism, so writing it with all caps is unnecessary.

Bill Cruikshank, K2WC, says his “favorite is ‘titled’ and ‘entitled.’ The first means the title of something, like a book or a song. The second means a right. A copy editor at a radio station where I worked many years ago used to say: ‘The music played on this station is titled and our listeners are entitled to hear it used correctly.’”

Paul Mulford, KC8YHW, wrote that “Back in the days of DOS, there was an application called WriteRight. Any time you typed a word that had synonyms, it became bracketed and all of the synonyms were listed for the user to choose. It performed verb to noun counts and pointed out errors. It informed you if you were getting verbose. It was a good program; however, it seems to have died a tragic death. Does anyone know how to perform CPR on old dead software?”

After poking around the Internet, Paul wrote back that he found a Windows program similar to WriteRight called Breme Write Right. You can download a 30 day free trial, so those of you who are Windows-disposed may want to try it out.

On a personal note, William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style nourished my writing career. Now I find their fine work available online and as a free downloadable Adobe Acrobat file. The price is right, so check it out.

My editor S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, prefers The Associated Press Stylebook. Besides that tome (which is issued annually), she has the 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (a holdover from her grad school days), The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary , the ARRL Style Manual and of course, The Elements of Style on her desk. A former high school English, History and Journalism teacher, she is a grammar fiend who utterly despises the Oxford comma (unless it is absolutely necessary).

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, almost named his cockapoo “Peeve.” To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.



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