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Suzan Hamer
Fussy editing for fussy people.

Local time: 18:08 CEST (GMT+2)

Native in: English (Variant: US) 
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First, a few sites to distract you:

The Word Lover's Guide to New Words: Word Spy

World Wide Words features new words, word histories,
the background to words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.



Not to be confused with Murphy’s law.

Muphry's law is an adage that states that "if you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written". The name is a deliberate misspelling of "Murphy’s law".

Similar laws have also been coined, usually in the context of online communication, under names including Skitt's Law, Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation (or The Law of Prescriptive Retaliation) and McKean's Law. A further variation states that flaws in a printed or published work will only be discovered after it is printed and not during proofreading.

John Bangsund of the Victorian Society of Editors (Australia) identified Muphry's law as "the editorial application of the better-known Murphy’s law” and set it down in 1992 in the Society of Editors Newsletter.

The law, as set out by Bangsund, states that:
(a) if you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written;
(b) if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book;
(c) the stronger the sentiment expressed in (a) and (b), the greater the fault;
(d) any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.

It goes on to say:
Muphry's Law also dictates that, if a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you. Your readers will always notice errors in a title, in headings, in the first paragraph of anything, and in the top lines of a new page. These are the very places where authors, editors and proofreaders are most likely to make mistakes.


Real English

I'm concerned about the state of the English language as she is writ today. At least online.

I've started collecting blunders (shall we call them?) I've seen online, some written by professional "writers" and educated people, like doctors, who should know better.

> Please be weary of disturbing content.
> What do you expect when you put strangers up on a pedal stool and parade them around…
> I prey in the morning.
> Firstable? what is "firstable" ? Did you mean "first of all"?
> This country is the laughing stalk of the world.
> I am hard broken to think a woman would allow…
> Your additude is the problem.
> Dressed in all black, she placed her hand on the coffin and buried her head into its side. Appearing to cry, she is comforted by loved ones before a six members of the military carry his coffin on to a nearby hurst.
> Congradulations
> I was perilized with shame.
> It was a full-time pregnancy...
> Chirch
> Ascanse
> We were over Greenland at the time, 4 hours from everywhere...
> I really don't like people who stereo type me.
> I was my father's escape goat.
> Go spew your ilk elsewhere.
> It is hard for me to phantom that someone would....
> The poor woman was already 500 meters out to see when fishermen heard her screaming.
> That was so udderly rude and ignorant on his part.
> Is pickles good for you?
> Gays ain't borned; they choose that life.
> Once they get axes to there phones they will gorilla there way to forcing in to other phones...
> for all intensive purposes
> I find it dispeakable that someone would refuse...
> More often than naught....
> Inside the refridgerator, was two ice cold bottles.
> crying and whaling
> She had accepted her plot in life
> Never do any thing illeagle

That last one there reminds me of the only joke I ever heard my mother tell in all her 99 years.
"What's the difference between illegal and unlawful?"
"Illegal is a sick bird...."


Werse Verse (by Bennett Cerf)

The wind was rough
And cold and blough.
She kept her hands inside her mough.
It chilled her through,
Her nose turned blough,
And still the squall the faster flough
And yet, although there was no snough,
The weather was a cruel fough.
It made her cough,
Please do not scough,
She coughed until her hat blough ough.


An Ode to English Plurals

(Author Unknown)

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

In what other language do people recite at a
play and play at a recital?

We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of
them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your
house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by
filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?


The Chaos
Dr Gerard Nolst Trenité

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation
I shall teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I shall keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy,
Tear in eye your hair you'll tear,
Queer fair seer, hear my prayer!
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter, how it's written).
Made has not the sound of bade;
Say, said, pay, paid, laid but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague.
But be careful how you speak,
Say gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak;
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Recipe, pipe, studding sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low;
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, ailes,
Exiles, similes, reviles,
Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining;
Scholar, vicar and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,
Petal, penal and canal
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal.
Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit,
Rhyme with "shirk it" and "beyond it".
But is it not hard to tell
Why it's pal, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular, goal, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion;
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Ivy, privy, famous. Clamour
Has the "a" of drachm and hammer.
Fussy, hussy, and possess,
Desert, dessert, address
From desire - desirable, admirable from admire;
Lumber, plumber, bier but brier/briar;
Chatham, brougham, renown but known,
Knowledge, gone, but done and tone!
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading (the town), heathen, Heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, mirth, plinth!
Billet does not end like ballet,
Wallet, mallet, bouquet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like good,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Bouquet is not nearly parquet,
Which most often rhymes with khaki.
Discount, viscount, load and broad;
Forward, toward, but reward.
Ricochet, croqueting, croquet.
Right! Your pronunciation's okay.
Sounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Don't forget: It's heave but heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven
We say, hallow, but allow,
People, leopard, tow and vow.
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between, mover, plover, Dover!
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice.
Shoes, goes, does; now first say "finger";
Then say "singer, ginger, linger".
Real, seal; mauve, gauze and gauge.
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth/loath;
Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.
Say "oppugnant" but "oppugns";
Sowing, bowing. Banjo tunes
Sound in yachts or in canoes.
Puisne, truism, use, to use.
Though the difference seems little,
Do say "actual" but "victual".
Seat, sweat, earn; Leigh, light and height,
Put, pus, granite and unite.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffor, Kaffir, zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull; Geoffrey, late and eight,
Hint but pint, senate, sedate.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas (the state),
Balsam, almond. You want more?
Golf, wolf; countenance; lieutenants
Host in lieu of flags left pennants.
Courier, courtier; tomb, bomb, comb;
Cow but Cowper, some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither devour with clangour.
Soul but foul, and gaunt but aunt;
Font, front, wont, want, grand and grant.
Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
Gooseberry, goose, and close but close,
Paradise, rise, rose and dose.
Say inveigh, neigh, and inveigle
make the latter rhyme with eagle.
Mind! Meandering but mean,
Serpentine and magazine.
And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say manifold like many,
Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
Tier (one who ties), but tier.
Arch, archangel! Pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
Prison, bison, treasure-trove,
Treason, hover, cover, cove.
Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn't) with nibbled.
Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw
Lien, phthisis, shone, bone, pshaw.
Don't be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet - buffet!
Brook, stood, rook, school, wool and stool,
Worcester, Boleyn, foul and ghoul.
With an accent pure and sterling
You say year, but some say yearling.
Evil, devil, mezzotint -
Mind the "z"! (a gentle hint.)
Now you need not pay attention
To such words as I don't mention:
Words like pores, pause, pours and paws
Rhyming with the pronoun "yours".
Proper names are not included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
Funny names like Glamis and Vaughan,
Ingestre, Tintagel, Strachan.
Nor, my maiden fair and comely,
Do I want to speak of Cholmondeley
Or of Froude (compared with proud
It's no better than Macleod).
Sea, idea, Guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Sally with ally. Yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, hey, quay.
Say aver but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess, it is not safe;
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.
Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice, but device and eyrie,
Face, but preface and grimace,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass,
Bass (the fish); gin, give and verging,
Ought, oust, joust, scour and scourging.
Ear but earn. Mind! Wear and tear
Do not rhyme with "here" but "ear".
Row, row, sow, sow, bow, bow, bough;
Crow but brow. Please, tell me now:
What's a slough and what's a slough?
(Make these rhyme with "cuff" and "cow").
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen.
Monkey, donkey, clerk but jerk;
Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.
Say serene but sirene. Psyche
must be made to rhyme with "spiky".
It's a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones like whoop and gunwale,
Islington, but Isle of Wight,
Houswife, verdict but indict -
Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying gather, bather, lather?
Tell me, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, cough, lough or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of "cup" -
My advice is - give it up.


What's Up?
(Author Unknown)

There is a two letter word that perhaps has more meaning than any other two letter word it's UP. It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we waken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends, we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, wewarm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special, and this is confusing. A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP. To be knowledgeable of the proper uses of UP, look UP the word in the dictionary. In a desk size dictionary, UP takes UP almost 1/4th the page and definitions add UP to about thirty. If you are UP to it, you might trybuilding UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When it doesn't rain for a while, things dry UP. One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so I'll shut UP.


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