NOMINALIZATION : the use of a word which is not a noun (e.g. a verb, an adjective or an adverb) as a noun,


This is an interesting concept.   Before you click it away, pay attention to what it is, and then make a decision as to whether it is just a boring intellectual exercise, or the answer to a question you may have had, but never asked. There are words that were originated to be specific parts of […]

PREPOSTEROUS: contrary to nature, reason, or common sense


Sometimes we seem to just use words over and over again until their meaning is lost. It gets minimalized, dumbed down, and/or exaggerated.   Such is the case for the word preposterous. It is a word that is usually employed in the midst of an emotional conversation, and tends, therefore, to be the product of more […]

ORTHOGRAPHY: the art of writing words with the proper letters according to standard usage


I want to direct you to something interesting: the words that end in “ough” when they are pronounced as “f”.   Such as in “enough” and “rough.”     I found myself wondering  where this unusual configuration and practice comes from…so I looked it up. The portion of linguistics which deals with the various pronunciations of ough  is […]

OFTEN : frequently


    You may be scratching your head and asking yourself why I would choose such a common, easily-understood word as the focus of today’s blog posting.   I don’t blame you. But the reason I chose the word often is that it may well be one of the most mis-pronounced words in American English.   It […]

CRESCENDO: a gradual, steady increase in loudness or force.


Miles Hoffman, the violinist with the American Chamber Players, and an NPR music commentator, wrote an interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times on July 29.   He took to task those who use a musical term, crescendo, in a way that is totally inconsistent with its true meaning. Now this is a common theme […]

LIAISE [lee-EYZ]: to form an alliance, to join forces with


I chose this word, liaise, as a good example of a word that comes into our language through a method known as back formation.  Back formation is a term which means that the word has been derived from an already existing word, and has been adapted to a new use. In this case, liaise derives […]