I found this interesting.
The Ideal of a Colorblind Society
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had the right idea about race relations, eloquently expounded during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in his famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. His “dream” for his children was that one day in America they would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I believe we could call that world a colorblind society. One of the definitions of colorblind, according to Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, is “not influenced by differences of race … free from racial prejudice.” The New Oxford Dictionary similarly defines it as “not influenced by racial prejudice: a color-blind society.” That seems to be the sort of society that MLK lived – and died – for. It is a world in which “all men are created equal,” the ideal of the Founding Fathers.
As a nation, we made great strides toward realizing that dream and that ideal, until the unfortunate rise of cultural Marxism, Critical Race Theory, BLM, and the so-called antiracist doctrines of those who would demonize a certain segment of our society. Today it is no longer good, or even okay, to be colorblind, to be not racist. Now, according to the twisted linguistic and ideological gymnastics of the cultural Marxist elites who shape the prevailing progressive narrative in America, to be colorblind is to be actually racist! Astoundingly, to be not racist, according to this convoluted logic, is to be, in fact, a white supremacist, of all things. Now one must be antiracist.
The net effect of these progressive efforts has been to divide us, rather than unify us, based solely on the color of our skin. The current mantra of the so-called woke is that America is still incurably, systemically racist, as though the hard work and sacrifices of Dr. King and his fellow laborers in the Civil Rights Movement were all in vain, that they amounted to nothing. I seriously doubt Dr. King would agree with that assessment. To preach such a grim, false message dishonors his memory.
I am truly thankful for Dr. King’s tremendous insight, courage, and dedication, all tragically cut way too short by an assassin’s bullet in 1968.
Not about “English” per se, this is for my fellow baseball fans.
There are at least two easy ways of answering the question of which are the all-time greatest teams: (1) the teams who were most dominant in particular seasons, and (2) the teams who have won the most World Series. The second criterion is easy, the New York Yankees have won by far more World Series than any other team in MLB history.
As for the first criterion, I have employed three easy, objective criteria to rank the top ten teams—those that were most dominant relative to the rest of their respective leagues in individual seasons. The three criteria are as follows:
- A winning percentage of .650 or higher. This means that for a 162-game season they won a minimum of 105 games; for a 154-game season, at least 100 games.
- They won the World Series (WS) that year. This criterion excludes several great teams that had phenomenal, league-dominating seasons; however, if a club fails to continue that dominance all the way to a championship, can I honestly rank them among the best-of-the-best all-time teams? I debated this at some length and decided I could not.
- Their Delta score ranking. (Their what score?) The first two criteria whittled down the possibilities tremendously. The teams meeting those minimum qualifications were then ranked according to a very simple statistic I devised: the Delta score. (It needed a name, right? Why not Delta (∆), the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet, which happens to be the first letter of the author’s name. (Disclaimer: I wrote originally wrote this long before the delta variant of COVID-19 had raised its ugly head.)
Do you know where all ten of these Christmas terms came from?
(This essay also appears in my book Whatever Happened to English? – available on Amazon.)
The Christmas season is “the most wonderful time of the year” for many of us. Just think of the many words we associate only with Christmas. The following ten words are among them.
1. Advent – Advent is derived from the Latin adventus, meaning “arrival” or “the coming.” By the end of the sixth century, Pope Gregory I had instituted in the Roman church the practice of conducting a special mass on each of the four Sundays leading up to “the coming” of the Christ-child. Similar to Lent, the season of Advent included fasting and penitence followed by a time of celebration. Eventually, the penitential nature of Advent gave way exclusively to the celebratory nature. Today, Advent is still celebrated in many churches, with each Sunday featuring a different theme, such as the prophecies of Jesus’ birth, the Annunciation to Mary, the visitation of the angels and shepherds, and the gifts of the wise men—with a candle lit for each theme. Continue reading “Ten Christmas Terms Explained”
Two common oddities.
Want to listen to an audio podcast version of this post? Here you go:
Momento vs. Memento
When I stopped into a gift shop to purchase a souvenir, the clerk said it would make a “nice momento.” This is a common spoken mistake; the correct word is memento.
Momento is not a word. At least not in English.
It’s understandable why a lot of people (and I do mean a lot of people) get this one wrong. I can think of two reasons: (1) Momento is a Spanish word that means moment, and (2) it makes sense that the souvenir from your vacation will help you remember a particular moment—thus a momento, right? Sorry, but no. Again, sadly, momento is not a word in English.
Here’s how to keep it straight: a memento is a MEMory aid that helps you reMEMber a person, place, or thing, or comMEMorate something. That should be easy to MEMorize.
Parenthesee vs. Parenthesis
This is kind of a joke, but I have actually heard parenthesee used by more than one person. However, parentheses is the plural of the singular parenthesis, referring to the curved symbol we place around a parenthetical word or phrase. We almost always use those symbols in pairs; thus the plural parentheses is more common. (E.g., “Remember to enclose verbal asides in parentheses in your script.”)
Parenthesee, as the singular form to refer to just one of those curved things, is incorrect; it’s not a word. Nope, nope, nope. The word is parenthesis. (Yes, really!)
Both of these can be found in the chapter “Usage Uncertainties” in my new book, Whatever Happened to English? available on Amazon in both paperback and e-book versions.
Here’s what’s in my new book.
Regular readers of my blog may want to know more about the contents of my new book. Thanks for asking! There are seven chapters and nearly 100 topics, all listed here:
Chapter 1: Whatever Happened to English?
- The Effect of Social Media on Written English Today
- Why Study Grammar?
- What Is Grammar?
Chapter 2: Usage Uncertainties Continue reading “Whatever Happened to English? – Part 2”
Now available, in time for the holidays!
My newest book, five-plus years in coming, based on this blog, is now a reality. It’s available on Amazon in paperback (e-book to come).
Here are some details:
Speakers and writers of American English don’t have to know how to diagram sentences or write grammatically perfect sentences at all times, but we should aim for a solid grasp of the basics of good usage, syntax, and punctuation—what teachers and copyeditors call the “mechanics” of English, or simply “Standard Written English.” Our goal should be to communicate in writing more clearly, concisely, coherently, and correctly.
Liberally lacing Whatever Happened to English? with practical grammar, usage, and punctuation tips and examples, often with a humorous edge, the author includes nearly one hundred essays of varying lengths—from a single paragraph to several pages. Approximately half of these essays originally appeared in The Dean’s English blog. The other half are brand new. The book is organized into these chapters:
- Whatever Happened to English?
- Usage Uncertainties
- Punctuation Perplexities
- A Grammar Miscellany
- Fun with Words
- A Dean’s English Potpourri
- English at the Holidays
Whatever Happened to English? is for writers as young as middle school and as old as Methuselah.
I hope you’ll check it out!
The short answer to the above question is . . . never.
Or at least rarely.
The longer answer is that the ampersand (&) symbol is used in some instances as the legitimate abbreviation for the word and, and is appropriate in notes, bibliographies, and tabular matter. Further, when it appears in the formal name of a company or logo, it is always appropriate. For example, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and PG&E. Occasionally, it is used as a space-saving or stylistic device in the title of a work, such as Nothing About Baseball Is Trivial: Essential Terms, Rules, Stats & History for Fans and Wannabe Fans.
Style guides, such as The Associated Press Stylebook, expressly state that “the ampersand should not otherwise be used in place of and.”
However, when you do use it, here are a few guidelines to remember: (1) If writing a sentence containing serial (or Oxford) commas, you would normally insert that comma before the and; but (2) the comma is omitted when using an ampersand; (3) when the ampersand appears in a company initialism (such as AT&T), there is no space before and after the & symbol.
Let’s again look at the above book title example: Essential Terms, Rules, Stats & History for Fans and Wannabe Fans. (Note, no comma before &). Otherwise, include the serial comma: Essential Terms, Rules, Stats, and History for Fans and Wannabe Fans.
To reiterate, the ampersand should be avoided in almost all instances of formal writing. Instead, spell it out: a-n-d.
I hope this is clear. If so, go forth & conquer! (I mean, go forth and conquer!)
 That’s Pacific Gas and Electric for my non-West Coast readers.
 How’s that for a sneaky way to slip in the title of my first book. Don’t ask me why I didn’t use an ampersand for the second and. Just . . . don’t ask. Thanks.
 AP Stylebook 2017, 17.
And always two.
“I love you a lot, little brother! And pleeease remember: a lot is always two words.”
Watch out for misplaced modifiers.
A modifier is a word or phrase that describes something. A modifier at the beginning of a sentence is considered “misplaced” when it doesn’t match up with what follows, which can cause confusion for your reader. For example, I recently received an email from an organization I support financially. Here’s how it began, “Dear Dean: As a faithful supporter of our organization, we are requesting your participation in a special research project.” Continue reading “Grammar Bite: Misplaced Modifiers”