Posted in Uncategorized

Unspoken English rules

Now here’s something that’s been making the rounds among some of my friends on Facebook regarding an unspoken rule when speaking about adjectives: 

I really had never thought about it, but this is right. It makes me wonder if there are similar “unspoken” rules in English, but if there are also similar rules to this in other languages. This might be why other languages can be a little confusing to native English speakers.

Those of you who are bilingual or multilingual, what patterns have you noticed like this one–unspoken rules, but it’s correct grammar–in other languages?  Post your comments below. 

Posted in Uncategorized

The Double Vocabulary of English | Mental Floss

Why does English have so many words that have twins? Here’s how we got to have two vocabularies, one based in Germanic roots, and one based in Latin.

Source: The Double Vocabulary of English | Mental Floss

As someone who thinks that she missed her calling by not studying and getting degrees in linguistics, I find this a fascinating little five minute video history of why English has more than one word for many verbs and nouns.  It’s said that English is complicated because of instances like this, but perhaps it’s actually richer for it.

What do you think of this video? Include your comments below.



Posted in Uncategorized

Move over, Grammar Police. The Digital Literacy Squad is here.

Fezzik says, "Now that my job on the Brute Squad is done, I can help society more on the Digital Literacy Squad. It's so modern!"
Fezzik says, “Now that my job on the Brute Squad is done, I can help society more on the Digital Literacy Squad. It’s so modern!”

As technical communicators, we are all used to being the grammar police. More often than not, we are the ones who have to clean up the grammatical mistakes of our colleagues who are not technical communicators. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. It’s part of the job description we bear in tech comm.

However, I have gotten to a point where I think we need to create a new squad that takes policing to an entirely new level. I propose that we form the Digital Literacy Squad. We are in the 21st century, for goodness’ sake, and I still see content that’s not written in a way that acknowledges that 99.9% of us are digitally literate.

Here’s an example:

For more information, contact Danielle Villegas at

NO! It should be:

For more information, contact Danielle Villegas.

See what I did there? I made it a hyperlink. Simple enough, right? People generally understand that something that is a different color from the rest of the text–within context–and/or has an underline under the text is a hyperlink, and that link will take them somewhere else. This is not 1998, where we need to spell it out because the act of hyperlinking is inconsistently reliable. And there is software to help you with those spambots now.

There are some exception, but they are rare. I’m sure someone will post one of those types of exceptions in the comments.  The only one I can think of is something like, “Click on the image below for more details,” if the hyperlink is not obvious to the user, or something along those lines. But in text, it’s usually VERY obvious, and that’s what annoys me.

One might think that this is something that “older” web writers do, but you would be wrong. Just today, I received a content change for a webpage I manage, and this same mistake was sent to me by a millennial. A MILLENNIAL! Someone who has been raised in the digital age and doesn’t know any differently. We are teaching everyone to write incorrectly for the communications and content that we put forth now, and that needs to change.

Just as technology is constantly changing and we need to keep up with it, we need to also keep up with how we create content for the web or other digital devices so that hyperlinking or creating some sort of action is intuitive, and doesn’t need to be spelled out anymore. People are smarter than that now. Internet access has been mainstream for more than 20 years now, and smartphones and tablets are an extension of that. We all know how to use the web, overall, now (yes, there are exceptions, but they are far and few), and we need to write for that, and keep up with those tech changes. With mobile becoming more and more pervasive, this is important because the best use of screen “real estate” is crucial!  Don’t sit back and continue to write as if it’s 1999. It’s 2015 already. Keep up!

This is the kind of content editing I do on a daily basis on my job. It drives me crazy, because often the content is written by great writers who can’t seem to get this concept through their head.

This is such an easy thing to enforce, and it will raise the digital literacy of everyone on the planet.

So who’s with me? Let’s storm the castle!