While my initial goal for this blog was to post twice each week (usually once on usage or something generally interesting about our language that’s caught my attention and once on a vocabulary issue) — and I actually managed it for most of the first year — the truth is that this blog is secondary to my “real” (better known as “paying”) work. For some time now, I’ve only posted a few times each month — and I expect to continue that schedule indefinitely.
Below is a list of topics you might reasonably expect to see covered soon (in no particular order, and with no fixed posting dates offered). The way I approach things, I often have a dozen or more posts in some draft state — some might be nearly complete, some might be very sketchy, and some might be in decent shape, but can really use more research before being released. Although all those posts are in the works, what actually sees the light of day is subject as much to whim as actual planning: I often simply post about an item because it’s caught my interest recently.
I welcome reader requests for topics: these have led to some of the most interesting posts. And if you see a topic on this list that you’d like to read about (or to read about soon), please let me know and I’ll bump its priority up.
Usage, grammar, and just plain interesting topics:
- “not un-” formations (with advice from George Orwell)
- Arbitrary plurals (why does English even use a distinct plural form?)
- Superstitions: never use contractions
- Word-processor errors (…a follow up…)
- may vs. might
- Shall: its atrophy is a loss. Or is it?
- the new Roman Catholic missal
- ‘watching you like a hound’ and ‘eyes on the ground’ (new category: bad mixed metaphors)
- Miss/Mrs./Ms. (and how some other languages treat these labels)
- SCOTUS on obscenity (very late 2012 edition)
- “all in all”
- who’s / whose
- Book Review: The Book of Lost Books
- Google Books N-grams
- Pennebaker’s recent work
- some thing/something, any one/anyone, ever more/evermore, some times/sometimes, every one/everyone, every thing/everything, every day/everyday, etc.
- i.e., e.g, a.k.a, and some other common (and often incorrectly used) abbreviations
- what makes a good story? (from this reader’s and editor’s perspective)
- “human remains” and other odd euphemisms
- “attorney at law” and other wordy formulations
- what is a “black swan” anyway? (use it right or not at all)
- corrosive coded political speech
- “graph” formations (social, physical, and others)
- eggcorns explained
- “pretty” and “really” as intensifiers
These topics have been requested by readers but not yet posted on:
- when to use “amount” vs when to use “number”
- bring vs. take
- I and me (in the context of correct pronoun choice and/or hypercorrection)
Vocabulary topics and errors in the wild (also applies to a few from the other categories):
- utilize and use
- most and mostly
- The D.A.R.E.
- ‘apergy,’ ‘etheroneph,’ and maybe one or two other obscure science-fiction vocabulary words
- arithmetic vs. mathematics
- racist vs. racialist
- sewn vs. sown
- flows and floes
- designee (in both forms)
- continuous vs. continual
- bi- vs. semi- usage
- latter vs. later
- data furnace
- surreal (and its constant mis- and overuse)
- object vs. objective
“Dear Internets” topics are posts in which I look specifically at a usage error with a toehold in the virtual world (they’re often, but not always, eggcorns):
- “the fetal position”
- “foul play”
- “deeply seated problems”
- “baldfaced lie”
Remember: I’m always open to reader requests, and will work them in as soon as it’s convenient. Feel free to submit them via comment, email, or any other way that works for you.