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The Language of the Olympics

Usage

Even the most sports-illiterate word nerds (I include myself in this category) will have been paying some attention to this month's Olympic Games — even if only because of some interesting linguistic phenomena. For instance, you may have heard the word "podium" used as a verb, or wondered if "Olympics" takes a singular or a plural verb.   Let's take a look at some Olympic terminology, where it came...

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Mysteries & Murders Make for a Chilling Summer

Book Reviews

In my most recent Kobo shopping spree, I was on the hunt for some great titles to carry me through the summer. I often find that I read certain genres in phases, and this summer has been no different – I seem to be going through mysteries of various kinds at a fast pace! So if you're looking for something a little creepier than your average beach read, I've...

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Editing Business Writing for Precision and Clarity

Business

Good business writing is clear and succinct. There are no unwanted words. The meaning is delivered with precision. The right tone, correct usage, and elimination of jargon strengthen the message.  Rene Cappon, former managing editor of the Associated Press, provides three main rules for business and news writing:   Don’t waste words and space Don’t use abstract, vague words ...

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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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I'm Ready for My Aria, Mr. de Mille: Opera Music in Movie Soundtracks

Along with classical orchestral music, opera has always had a presence on movie soundtracks (having spent three decades as a professional opera singer before becoming an editor, I notice these things). There are dozens of examples, but I’d like to mention just a few here. We can’t begin a discussion of opera in film without mentioning the immortal classic, The Rabbit of Seville, which adds lyrics to...

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Austen vs Chandler: What Melissa Is Reading

Book Reviews

Since having my first baby earlier this year, my book-reading time has taken a serious hit. In fact, most of my reading for the past four months has consisted in frantically scrolling through the forums at BabyCenter. ca or skimming the pages of What to Expect: The First Year while rocking a crying infant in my arms. This past month, though, the chaos has subsided somewhat. Baby Ben’s...

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Double Quotations vs. Single Quotations: What’s the Difference?

Usage

Double quotations vs. single quotations --  figuring out how to properly use both of these types of punctuation can be confusing, especially depending on where the text originated from. TEC editor Amy has a primer that can help you figure out, once and for all, when to use double quotations and when to use single quotations.   “Double Quotations”   In Canada and the United States, double quotation marks are...

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What We're Reading: A Few Picks from TEC Editors

Book Reviews

Here at TEC, we generally view summer as prime reading time, what with all the vacations, long weekends at the cottage, and general relaxation. We've all started in on our "to be read" piles, and this summer, we'll be doing a "what we're reading" series to pass on our favourites and top choices. So, read on for Beth and Lesley-Anne's choices.     What Lesley-Anne Is Reading Over the past month,...

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My Brush with Genius – an Editor Goes to the Movies

Event

What does an editor do?   We can be correctors, arbiters, hand-holders. We can correct spelling errors or rearrange whole chapters, fix dangling modifiers or eliminate a subplot. It is said that legendary literary editor Maxwell Perkins once cut 90,000 words from a draft of Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel – words which, presumably, sank without a trace and were never missed by anyone (except perhaps Mr. Wolfe).   With...

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4 Self-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid

Publishing

So you've decided to self-publish a book. That's great! Self-publishing a book can be quite the journey, and it can also be incredibly rewarding. Here are a few helpful tips to keep you on the right track during the publishing process. Know the Purpose of Your Book Ask yourself, what is the purpose of my book? Do I want to sell lots of books online? Use the book...

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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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10 Steps for “Working” Your Manuscript

Editing

  What does it mean when we say an author is "working" the manuscript? It means that we recognize that the author is making the time to rewrite, revise, and reshape the manuscript as often as needed to make it ready for publication. We have the pleasure of working with many authors who seem to know instinctively how to go about doing this, and to watch them at work is...

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An Editor Reviews: Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto

Book Reviews

  How do you look at a city? What do you see when you walk down its alleys, across its streets, and through its neighbourhoods? When I look out my office window at the skyscrapers and the CN Tower, I see walls of concrete and shiny sheets of glass, but Toronto wasn't always this way.   How did the city come to be? Toronto the Overwhelming I live in the GTA, not exactly...

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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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Editing & Hyphens: Tips on Hyphenating Your Writing

Usage

We have been absolutely inundated with work this week at TEC! Because of our crazy schedules, we're re-posting one of our most useful blogs. Barbara wrote this blog over a year ago, but it's still just as applicable today as it was last year! Hyphens can be confusing and tough to work with, even for more practiced writers. We hope you'll be able to refer back to this...

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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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3 Book-to-Movie Oscar Nominees: To Watch or To Read?

Books And Reading

  Oscar season might be over, but the many great movies that were nominated are still just as fantastic today as they were before the Oscars happened. If you're one of those people who are serious about Oscar season, you might still be participating in the annual Oscar challenge: watch every single nominee. In case you're still trying to remember just how many movies that is, the total is...

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A Farewell-for-Now Post from Academic Editor Melissa

Office Happenings

  As some of you may know, I am taking a hiatus from editing this spring, as I'm expecting my first baby to arrive any day now.   Although this pregnancy has been no fairy tale – thanks mostly to many months of morning sickness – the past nine months have nonetheless turned out to have quite a literary theme. I've spent this time editing books here at TEC, working...

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