Bus, buses, busses

AP Style’s wry tip of the month …

According to Grammarist:

“Notwithstanding Great Caesar’s assertion regarding ‘busses’ as being a kiss (an archaic definition retained only in very few dialects), busses is commonly accepted as the correct form for the verb ‘to bus’ as in he/she/it busses. Buses is the plural of the noun ‘bus’.”

You can hear the singular “buss” in this song, ‘Spin on a Red Brick Floor’: take it away, Nanci Griffith:

Busses,
Glosso
xoxo

Hat tip to Rona

A solar eclipse glossary

Total solar eclipse seen from Varanasi, India; Wikimedia Commons

In a week’s time, on August 21, a total eclipse of the sun will dim American skies; it will be the first such eclipse to be seen in the continental United States in 38 years, making it the cosmic episode of the decade. In 1925, the New York Times described a solar eclipse as “the most magnificent free show nature presents to man.” Glossophilia takes a rocket-ship ride through some of the light-fantastic lingo of solar eclipses (definitions courtesy of the OED and NASA). We’ll also ask an important and relevant spelling question: should we capitalize “Sun”, “Moon” and/or “Earth” when we’re writing about this heavenly happening? Continue reading

In the news … The importance of good spelling (in dating and in life)

Illustration from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (1890—1907) / Wikimedia Commons

Spelling is important. It can affect your chances of getting a job, your love life, and it can make us appear less intelligent than we are. A recent BBC article spells it all out for us.

“Research shows that as soon as people spot a spelling mistake on a website they’ll often leave it because they fear it’s fraudulent.

Corporations are aware that a portion of their image rests upon correct writing and spelling, says Roslyn Petelin, associate professor in writing at the University of Queensland in Australia. ‘Nothing can make you lose credibility more quickly and seem uneducated than a spelling mistake, and that includes apostrophes,’ she says.

… Indeed, a lack of a certain level of proficiency may be a barrier to getting a job at all. A lot of employers in Australia now ask candidates to take writing tests, says Petelin. ‘Young people coming out of university may have all the right interpersonal skills, but if they can’t write coherently, employers won’t give them a job.’

Poor spelling can even affect your dating chances. A Match.com survey found that 39% of singles judged the suitability of candidates by their grammar.”

Read the full story at the BBC.

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Mystery solved: words (male and female) for idle, observant walkers

Michael Peter Ancher: “A Stroll on the Beach” / Wikimedia Commons

Back in May, my aunt Sally wrote to me asking if I knew of a specific word that she had come across in her reading but which now escaped her. Here’s how she described her word mystery:

“A short while ago I read the book The Lonely City by Olivia Laing, in which she talks about women walking alone at night, including Greta Garbo.​ ​I’m certain that in the book​,​ or in a​n article​ about it​, there was a word used to describe these women​.​ I know I read it, but ​I ​just can’t find it​.​ Can you help? I’m sure it begins​ ​with F.”

Can you guess what that word is, before you read on? Continue reading

The mid-Atlantic accent: blame it on Edith

I’ve always thought the word “mid-Atlantic” is such a strange misnomer: doesn’t it conjure up images of boats tossing on vast ocean waves with no land in sight? But that’s just me, it seems: most people think of Katherine Hepburn or Cary Grant — and that’s because the term is most commonly used to describe an accent. Continue reading

The discomfort of pregnant pauses … … … … … … in different languages

Wikimedia Commons

Glosso apologizes for the slightly longer-than-normal pause that followed the last post. …

It wasn’t deliberate. …

But it was slightly awkward …

How long do you think a pause in conversation has to be before it becomes uncomfortable? Two seconds? Four seconds? Eight? Continue reading

Goodbye ladies & gentlemen; hello everyone

Central London Railway (now Central Line) motor car 1903 / Wikimedia Commons

“The ‘ladies and gentlemen’ greeting on Tube announcements is to be scrapped, Transport for London (TfL) has announced. London Underground staff have been told to say “hello everyone” in an effort to become more gender-neutral. … The revised phrasing will be applied to all new pre-recorded announcements made across the capital’s transport network.” Read the full story on BBC News.

And while we’re on the subject of gender-neutral language: “Malta might be the next country to bring in marriage equality after the country’s government brought forward legislation to removed gender language from their marriage laws. The draft law would abolish gendered terms such as “husband”, “wife”, “mother” and “father” from the country’s Marriage Act and other laws and replace them with gender-neutral terminology. The move has the support of the centre-right opposition Nationalist party.” Read more in OutinPerth.

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