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Inclusive Writing: It’s Not About Political Correctness

Language & Editing

Inclusive writing is often confused with politically correct writing, but political correctness isn’t an author’s main goal when writing inclusively. Instead, inclusive writing seeks to limit reader alienation by avoiding the use of phrases and terms that include some demographics at the expense of excluding others.   When writing inclusively, a glossary of politically correct and incorrect terms could be used as a reference, but this glossary would act as...

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Man! Unbiased Language Can Be Confusing

Language & Editing

A while back, we at TEC were chatting over lunch about Word On The Street, and I mentioned that I had once manned a booth at the event. The reaction was an awkward pause, followed by “Manned a booth?”   The question was, of course, one of gender neutrality. Shouldn’t I have said “staffed” instead? Didn’t “manning” imply a bias towards staffing being a male bailiwick? So I did what...

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Subject-Verb Agreement

Language & Editing

  It's pretty simple, right? A singular subject takes a singular verb, and a plural subject takes a plural verb. The dog is barking. The dogs are barking. Most of the time, we apply this rule without even thinking about it. But sometimes, we're stumped.   How Complicated Can It Be? It can actually be a bit unnerving to consult a grammar guide for help with subject-verb agreement. ...

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The Affected Effects of Impact

Language & Editing

Language and the way we use it is undeniably fluid. One doesn't have to look far to find idioms and words that have changed their wording and subsequently their meanings over the years. Especially in the 21st century, words that were once nouns have now become noun/verb hybrids. Examples that immediately spring to mind are "to text," as in "I'll text you," and the teeth-grindingly common "to...

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A Crash Course on Political Language from Roosevelt by way of Trump to Orwell

Language & Editing

    The political world gets progressively denser every day, especially the world of US politics. And, though Canadians often pretend at being secure from the political meltdown south of the 49th parallel, the reality is that it's incumbent upon those of us who live north of the border to learn all we can about both the Canadian and US systems of governance . and propaganda.   Participating in, or at...

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Myths & Superstitions of the Theatre: Where Do They Come From?

Language & Editing

    I'm set to play Jack Manningham in The Tipling Stage Company's production of Gaslight. And because the play, Patrick Hamilton's psychological thriller about a husband trying to drive his wife mad in order to benefit from her committal to an insane asylum, is set in Victorian England, I've been thinking about the etymologies of various theatrical terms, myths, and superstitions.   As a theatre student in my 20s, I was...

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Words of the Year and Where They Come From

Language & Editing

        What do the words Y2K, plutoed, tweet, e-, they, and bailout have in common?   Simple. They have all, at one point, been named as "Words of the Year. " You may have noticed this tradition, occurring around the end of each year. Dictionaries and websites come out with their idea of what word best represents the past year. Some of the words of...

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Crossing the Pond: One Editor’s Transition from Canada to the UK

Language & Editing

  The past few years in Toronto have been very eventful for me: I've defended my PhD thesis, got married, started my freelance editing career, and had a baby! As it turns out, the adventure isn't ending there. In the New Year, my family and I will be crossing the Atlantic to move to the UK.   In addition to getting used to driving on the left side of the road,...

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“G’wan, B’y”: A Primer on Cape Breton English

Language & Editing

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of introducing my husband and my 7-month-old son to the lovely island of Cape Breton, where my parents grew up. I remember my many childhood trips “out east” fondly, and I relished re-living the experience: crossing the Canso Causeway, driving the Cabot Trail, and looking out over the Great Bras d’Or.   Besides these, one of my favourite things about Cape Breton is...

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A Halloween Word Treat from The Editing Company

Language & Editing

Halloween fast approaches, and you may have noticed pumpkins and scarecrows appearing on your neighbours’ stoops, and ravaged racks of costumes popping up in stores. I certainly have my decorations up already—black cats, broomsticks, and skeletons, oh my! This week, we thought we’d enlighten you on some fun Halloween etymology in a post by former TEC editor Mary Ann! ***** Mid-October is that wonderful time of year when the air takes on...

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5 Best Grammar Blogs for Authors

Language & Editing

Hello, TEC blog readers! It's been a glorious summer so far, and we hope you have had ample time to enjoy the weather. This week, we are re-posting Lesley-Anne's collection of grammar blogs in case you need to brush up.  We know, we know, no one wants to study grammar in the summer.  But many of us may need to because we are in summer school, finishing up summer...

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Canadian and American Spelling in Action: A Sampler

Language & Editing

  Still puzzled by the different Canadian vs. American spellings? Drawing on the three blogs Barbara compiled (A to G, H to P, and Q to Z), we have written these sampler sentences to help you practise/practice. We have underlined the Canadian spellings that you would use if writing for a Canadian audience. Remember: some spellings are the same.   Double -ll- or single -l- When it is winter...

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To Boldly Go: An Editor’s Journey Beyond the Infinite

Language & Editing

  Q: How many editors does it take to split an infinitive? A: Just one, but he has to really be persuaded. If, as Dr. Johnson said, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, perhaps it could be argued that grammatical prescriptivism -- strict and unquestioning adherence to rules -- is the last refuge of a pedant. As an editor, I can be one such pedant. I bristle at...

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Canadian and American Spelling: Your Guide from Q to Z

Language & Editing

Stop right there. Did you read "queue to zee"? If you did, you're using American pronunciation. Up here in the land of butter tarts and Nanaimo bars, we say "queue to zed"—which is why we can't ever get the Alphabet Song to rhyme. But we love our alphabet with its odd ending nonetheless. One of our most popular alphabet books is Eh? To Zed: A Canadian...

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Editing the New Language: Shifting Gender Norms and the Grammatical Conventions

Language & Editing

The "They" Debate The use of "they" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun has been the subject of much debate in the publishing world over the last couple of years. The 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style insists that "the only gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun in English is it, which doesn’t refer to humans" and that attempts to find a gender-neutral singular pronoun "won’t succeed" and "invite credibility...

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Toronto Place Names and What Not to Call Them

Language & Editing

  Every city has its own peculiarities of spelling and pronunciation. Some things you just have to know – such as the fact that the first syllable of Houston Street in Manhattan is pronounced like "house. " If you say "Houston" as it is pronounced in Texas, New Yorkers will know you are not one of them.   Toronto has its share of places and street names that are commonly mispronounced...

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Canadian and American Spelling: Your Guide from H to P

Language & Editing

Variety Is the Spice of Life It's hard to believe that a whole month has gone by since we posted the first part of our Canadian and American spelling list! As before, we're using the Canadian Oxford Dictionary for Canadian spelling and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary for American spelling. Once again, you'll notice that some words are spelled the same in both systems.   And here a confession: we're relying heavily on the Editors' Association of...

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Why English is So Hard: A Poem

Language & Editing

It's April Fool's Day, and in lieu of pulling pranks, we've got humour of a more literary nature in mind.  With April being National Poetry Month (and in the spirit of today), we thought we'd post a funny little poem Barbara found and shared around the office! As well, Poem in My Pocket Day is coming to Canada for the first time this year, on April 21—perhaps you'd like to...

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Canadian vs. American Humour: Is there a Difference?

Language & Editing

  A 2012 article by Bruce McCall in Vanity Fair attempted to unravel the secret of Canadian humour (or "humor" as the magazine spelled it). The question was raised as to whether such a thing even existed.   Canadian author Terry Fallis had success with his comic novel The Best Laid Plans, an amusing tale of political tomfoolery amongst some honourable MPs in Ottawa. Contrast this with Going Rouge: The...

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Canadian and American Spelling: Your Guide from A to G

Language & Editing

  Vive la Différence! We all know that there's a difference between Canadian and American spelling,* and many of us have a basic grasp of the patterns, such as "-our/-or," "-re/er," or "-yse/yze. " But certainty usually ends somewhere around here, and unless you consult a dictionary, you may end up making rather haphazard spelling choices. "Does that look right? Um . I think so . Yeah, whatever. "   To...

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Wab Kinew: The Power and Politics of Language

Language & Editing

On September 28, musician, academic, and activist Wab Kinew addressed a full house at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bluma Appel Salon. The event was part of the salon’s (free!) ongoing program in which “writers, thinkers, artists and innovators from around the world gather for conversation and debate. ” The CBC’s Carol Off interviewed Kinew about his new memoir, The Reason You Walk. He describes the book as...

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Inclusive Editing: Beyond Political Correctness at the Editing Goes Global Conference

Language & Editing

  Since the term political correctness entered mainstream usage in the 1990s, it's been richly scorned and lampooned. Maybe this is because to some, the word correctness smacks of rules, rigid and arbitrary ones enforced by language police.   Of course, there is no official body governing the use of the English language. Dictionaries and style guides merely document and codify how the language is used. So it's up...

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2 Experts Explain ESL Editing Plus

Language & Editing

  Editor Barbara: She's Been There!   So you've been in Canada for a while now, and you've gone from understanding very little English to understanding almost everything. From there, you've taken the leap to speaking fairly fluently. And yet . and yet . writing is a lot harder than you thought it would be. Learning the Language I hear you. ...

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An American Editor in the Land of the Canadian Oxford

Language & Editing

  As a freelance editor working for clients from all over the world (and currently based here in Portland, Oregon), I have to be aware of the differences that folks from different lands incorporate into their versions of English. There are four distinct English types: American, British, Australian, and Canadian. Today, I'm going to address how I, an American editor, approach working with clients requesting Canadian English.   Our countries may...

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