Archive for December, 2011


December 30, 2011

Tips for Proper English
1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
2. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
4. Employ the vernacular.
5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7. Remember to never split an infinitive.
8. Contractions aren’t necessary.
9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
10. One should never generalize.
11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate
quotations. Tell me what you know.”
12. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
13. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s
highly superfluous.
14. Be more or less specific.
15. Understatement is always best.
16. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
17. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
18. The passive voice is to be avoided.
19. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
20. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
21. Who needs rhetorical questions?
22. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
23. Don’t never use a double negation.
24. capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with point
25. Do not put statements in the negative form.
26. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
27. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
28. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal
of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
29. A writer must not shift your point of view.
30. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
(Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word
to end a sentence with.)
31. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
32. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences,
as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
33. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
34. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
35. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
36. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
37. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun
with singular nouns in their writing.
38. Always pick on the correct idiom.
39. The adverb always follows the verb.
40. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague;
They’re old hat; seek viable alternatives.

Other Versions:

1.Don’t abbrev.
2.Check to see if you any words out.
3.Be carefully to use adjectives and adverbs correct.
4.About sentence fragments.
5.When dangling, don’t use participles.
6.Don’t use no double negatives.
7.Each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.
8.Just between you and I, case is important.
9.Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.
10.Don’t use commas, that aren’t necessary.
11.Its important to use apostrophe’s right.
12.It’s better not to unnecessarily split an infinitive.
13.Never leave a transitive verb just lay there without an object.
14.Only Proper Nouns should be capitalized. also a sentence should
begin with a capital and end with a period
15.Use hyphens in compound-words, not just in any two-word phrase.
16.In letters compositions reports and things like that we use commas
to keep a string of items apart.
17.Watch out for irregular verbs which have creeped into our language.
18.Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
19.Avoid unnecessary redundancy.
20.A writer mustn’t shift your point of view.
21.Don’t write a run-on sentence you’ve got to punctuate it.
22.A preposition isn’t a good thing to end a sentence with.
23.Avoid cliches like the plague.
24.It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
25.Profanity sucks


December 29, 2011

Being a word-lover, I have subscribed to quite a number of word-quizzes, language blogs, words-of-the-day, words-and-their-stories, etc, etc. Just to give an idea of what my daily “word-picks” are, I’m  presenting extracts of my today’s mail:

  1. Urban Dictionary

December 29

medicine head :

Mental fogginess resulting from having taken cold/flu medicine. Common side effect of certain antihistamines.

“I took some NyQuil and now I have medicine head like you wouldn’t believe. Everything feels and looks surreal — but at least I can breathe without coughing.”

2. InvestorWords

extreme point rule:

A technical analysis rule that looks at the highest point or the lowest point at which the negative directional indicator (-DI) and positive directional indicator (+DI) cross for a particular financial instrument. The extreme point is the highest point for a particular trading day if +DI is above -DI, and is at the lowest point if -DI is above +DI. An investor would be signaled to buy if the price of a share of stock is above the extreme point.

3. Wordsmith



verb tr.: To pay the penalty for.
verb intr.: To suffer, to endure.


From Old English abycgan (to pay for), from bycgan (to buy). Earliest documented use: before 1225.


“‘But we have you — and you shall aby it.’ There were knives drawn on every side of him as these words were spoken.”
Walter Scott; Quentin Durward; 1823.

4.      The Free Dictionary

pertinacious Definition: (adjective) Stubbornly unyielding.
Synonyms: dogged, dour, tenacious, persistent
Usage: When he made up his little mind to have or to do anything, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not change that pertinacious little mind.

5.      The Free Dictionary (forum)


Who are ‘pancake people’?

Those would be superficial thinkers. They do not delve deeply into subjects but skim the surface of a topic gathering just enough to know what they are seeing or reading but retaining little of it later on.

Pancake people” refers to the Internet-dependant generation, and means, in short, the Internet users, who read widely on the web, but superficially and without delving into any matter. Thanks to the Internet, people have unlimited access to information, and they are able to read up on a broad range of topics, although without depth or commitment; they only skim over the surface of that information. Like pancakes, individuals are flat and spread themselves thin with small bits of information.

The earliest citation comes from the interview with Richard Foreman, an American play writer: “But today, I see within us all (myself included) the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self-evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available”. A new self that needs to contain less and less of an inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance — as we all become “pancake people” — spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button. Will this produce a new kind of enlightenment or “super-consciousness”? Sometimes I am seduced by those proclaiming so — and sometimes I shrink back in horror at a world that seems to have lost the thick and multi-textured density of deeply evolved personality.”


A University Of California (San Diego) study found that the amount of information the average American processed in 2008 was triple what it was in 1960. This has turned many into pancake people — spread wide and thin.
—Dr. Marc Dussault, “Floatation Tank Helps Improve Grades,” FLOAT Press Blog, April 5, 2011

The more different ways technology gives people to multi-task, the more chances people have to succumb to an illusion of attention…
Pancake people spread wide and thin.
—Thomas Crampton, “Debate Research: The Internet is Making Us Stupid,” Thomas Crampton, November 10, 2010

Earliest Citation:
I think we’re producing a race of people who are paper-thin — almost pancake people — who cover a lot of territory. Like the Internet. And our psyches cover a lot of territory, but to me it’s sort of pancake-thin.
—Richard Foreman, quoted in Nick Fracaro, “Richard Foreman Interview,” Rat Sass, February 7, 2003

6. Merriam-Webster

Gloss, v


1.a : to provide a gloss for : explain, define b : interpret

2: to dispose of by false or perverse interpretation


Although not intended for the layperson, the text is relatively jargon-free and most of the technical vocabulary has been glossed.

“Even when Wotton’s footnotes correctly gloss Swift’s material, they are inevitably usurped of their authority simply by being jumbled with the other signed and unsigned footnotes.” — From Christopher Flint’s 2011 book The Appearance of Print in Eighteenth-Century Fiction


You may also know “gloss” as a noun meaning “shine” or as part of the phrase “gloss over,” meaning “to treat or describe (something) as if it were not important,” but those uses are unrelated to today’s featured word. Today’s verb comes from the noun that refers primarily to a brief explanation. It is Greek in origin, coming from “glōssa” or “glōtta,” meaning “tongue” or “language” or “obscure word.” “Glossary” is from this same root, as are two anatomical terms: “glottis” refers to the elongated space between the vocal cords and also to the structures that surround this space; “epiglottis” refers to the thin plate of flexible cartilage in front of the glottis that folds back over and protects the glottis during swallowing.

Test Your Memory: What recent Word of the Day begins with “r” and means “banter” or “jest”? The answer is … (raillery)


7. Advertisement: Word calendar, 365 New Words-A-Year is the perfect gift for writers, readers, students, crossword buffs, and etymology aficionados. On every page is a great new way to boost your everyday vocabulary. There are million-dollar words (paroemiologist: a student of proverbs), folksy words (thank-you-ma’am: a bump or depression in a road), and more. You’re sure to avoid catachresis (use of the wrong word for the context), because each entry includes a definition, pronunciation, sample sentence, and detailed word history.


December 28, 2011

The bell rang and when I opened the door I saw a young man who was showing some document with his picture on it. That might be the man’s ID card, I guessed. The man said that he was representing an all-Ukrainian Information Center and that he had something to say to people of our apartment building at the meeting that was to start in some 10-15 minutes. I was invited to join if I had time. I didn’t have much time (I never have) but I agreed to go down to the staircase landing on the second floor – the appointed place for the gathering . I just liked the fervor of the young man’s voice, or maybe I agreed because I had decided to build up the sense of “social responsibility” in myself.

While the young man and two more of his friends kept pushing other door bells summoning more people, those who had already gathered exchanged their surmises about the possible agenda. The  coming year is the year of the parliamentary election, so the conjectures were that some party was going to advertise its platform with promises to “improve the life of the people”. It wouldn’t be bad if the party repaired the roof of the building which was leaking all through, somebody said. Others agreed but added that bringing down the cost of utility bills was no less important. “The quality of sausage should be improved,” insisted other participants. “There’s practically no meat in sausages nowadays. Their party should think about it in the first place.”

A few more elderly people came and, finally, the young man and his friends led up a decrepit old lady who also used her two walking sticks (her two “mercedeses”, as she said) to go up the staircase.

The man said that the Information Center he was representing took care of explaining to people that they should be cautious while taking medication. The greedy pharmaceutical companies were unscrupulous about the validity of the medicines sold. More than 80% of all medicines at pharmacies were adulterants. “Press a pill with your fingers before you pay for it. A fake medicine will immediately crash…”

The man spoke for a long time, citing the figures of those who had died because of bad “chemicals.” His persuading skills were marvelous: he looked into the old people’s eyes, he asked them what their patronymics were (which was a sign of high respect for the elderly) and he addressed them only by their patronymic names.

I liked the gentleman. At last, I thought, there are people in this country who – unselfishly, without lucrative inclinations – try to protect those who need the protection most: senior citizens.

In the end the young man pointed to the lady on the two “mercedeses.” “No medicines in the world can remove the chalkstone from people’s joints”, he said. “But the doctors do not send you to physiotherapeutic rooms because they get an interest from the medication they prescribe. Besides, our  physiotherapeutic rooms have an outdated equipment. The apparatus which really helps is this electric massager…” As if with a wave of a magic wand, a shiny, colorful box appeared in the young man’s hands…

What happened next is not interesting…


December 28, 2011

The BBC Ukrainian service published some statistical data about Ukraine, as it usually does by the end of the year. Here are a few figures that caught my eye:

  • In Ukraine the average income of the rich is 40 times as high as the income of the poor. To compare: in the U.S.A. the same index is 5 to 7 times.
  • 52% of those who are younger than 30 years old expect changes for the better in 2012. For the age group from 30 to 50 the share of “optimists “ is 34% and from among people older than 54 only every fourth person (24%) thinks that their life in the year 2012 will improve.
  •  Two months ago the opposition party Batkivshchyna was supported by 13.8% of the population and the ruling Party of the Regions – by 16.6%. At the moment they changed places: the Party of the Regions has the support of 13.9%, while Batkivshchyna is favored by 15.8%.
  • Should the presidential election be held today, Yulia Tymoshenko would receive 16.3% of votes and the present-day president Victor Yanukovych would get 13.3%.
  • 55.1% of the Ukrainians agree that political reprisals take place in the country.
  • The title of the Biggest Disappointment of the Year has been given over to President Yanukovych: 32.3% of those polled.

The info may give some hint of what is going on in Ukraine.


December 27, 2011

This morning I tried to call a taxi. A lady’s voice answered that orders are taken only when the potential passenger tells his/her passport data. It goes without saying that I, angrily, hung up the phone. Later in the evening I accessed the Internet to find out how popular was the “service” offered. I went to the clients’ column of the taxi company I had tried to contact and read a commentary that somebody, pretending to take orders on behalf of the company in question, spoke rather rude to the callers, even threatened them. It looks like I had run into the “somebody.”

At the moment a war of businesses is being waged in Kyiv: new political bosses from the East of Ukraine, having gained a victory in the 2010 election, are trying to get the upper hand of the companies that have been functioning in the capital until recently. My guess is that this morning I became a victim of that war.


December 26, 2011

Today, while talking with my daughter about bygone years, I jokingly mentioned the phrase which has stuck in my mind since my high school years. In Russian the phrase sounds …Бывали когда-то и мы рысаками, и кучеров мы имели лихих… (Engl.: Once we were steeds – spirited and swift, and our coachmen were daring people). To my shame, I knew neither the author, nor the poem from which the lines had been taken. So I tapped the “magic pot” for information (the “magic pot” is the name for the Internet  in our family). The words I had cited were formulated somewhat differently:   Once YOU were steeds – spirited and swift, and YOUR coachmen were daring people. The writer Aleksey Nikolayevich Apukhtin (1840 – 1893) was addressing two worn-our horses – “lean, hungry and sad,” which had known better times, just as their lady-owner, who had grown old together with them. The poem conveys the message of the irrevocable past which once was so bright and promising.

I was surprised to find out that Aleksey Apukhtin was one of the closest friends of Pyotr Chaikovskiy, the Russian composer, and that Chaikovskiy set to music six poems by Apukhtin, among them the well-known Ночи безумные, ночи бессонные… (Mad Nights, Sleepless Nights…).

Apukhtin was what you would call a “wit” among the intellectuals of St. Petersburg in the second half of the 19th century. His epigrams about high-positioned bureaucrats spread momentarily through the capital city, his poetry and prose (still hand-written ) were read avidly. Apukhtin’s poems echoed the golden age of Russian literature (Pushkin, Lermontov) and anticipated its silver age (the beginning of the 20th century). The author was highly appreciated by such prominent writers as Afanasiy Fet, Fyodor Dostoyevskiy and, later, by Mikhail Bulgakov.

All of a sudden I felt refreshed and even elated: the power of the artistic word was a wonderful energizer. Quite unexpectedly, the half-forgotten lines read inattentively half a century ago made me rich and happy now. That’s what the CLASSICS is about, isn’t it?


December 25, 2011

In the Book of Matthew (Ch. 15) Jesus Christ tells the Pharisees about what makes a person “clean” or “unclean”. What proceeds from the heart, Jesus says, is more important than what enters the mouth. Motives and attitudes are more significant than food and drink.


Jesus’ disciples, respecting the teachers of the Mosaic Law, seemed to be hesitant whether Jesus’ point was right. “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard  this?” they asked. Then Jesus pronounced his uncompromising words: “(the Pharisees) are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”


A sad thing is that these words may be extrapolated to any area of modern political and social life. I have always wondered why a person who wants to head even a small enterprise must produce a kind of document certifying his professional competence, while no special skills are required from people who lead the country. When you start listening to our state leaders, you will immediately understand that they don’t care to be taught, they would rather remain willfully ignorant and self-conceitedly foolish. At the same time those who are led are happy in their sottish foolishness too. None will rush for the eye-salve to get rid of their blindness (spiritual blindness too). What will be the end? The pit for both? “Both deceived and deceivers are his…” (Job 12:16). Outside will be those who preach falsehood and who love falsehood (Rev. 22:15).


December 24, 2011


These days there are lots of Santa Clauses in Maidan – the central square of Kyiv. At each moment their number is no less than a hundred. They hug children who come to Maidan with their parents and all together get photographed with “Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden.” All of a sudden, the all-powerful being who generally lives far in the North and travels to Ukraine once a year is materialized for the kids: they can touch Santa Claus, speak to him and tell him their most secret wishes.

The children’s communication with Santa Claus costs a pretty penny for the parents. That’s why a group of volunteers decided to dress as Santa Clauses and do the photo-sessions for free. As it turned out, that was an uphill job. A man in black told the volunteers to get away before “they “are dead.” A few other Santa Clauses dogged them all the time while the volunteers were in Maidan, uttered profanities  (in the presence of children and their parents) and kept threatening them. Those who weren’t influenced by financial gains were told to pay to the protection racket if they wanted to work in Maidan as Santa Clauses.

The children keep dreaming about Grandfather Frost. Here he is coming: in a sleigh across the night sky, to the melody of “Jingle Bells…..and with materialized wishes in his bag. The children touch him. From now on they will be saying that they know what is happiness…

…The adults know better.


December 22, 2011

Today is the winter solstice. The sun is overhead at the tropic of Capricorn. Judging from the position of the sun in Kyiv, the tropic must be far away from here. Here the sun barely rises over the rooftops of the building which I see across the lake from the window of my apartment. It hangs over those roofs for some time – a bleached, ineffectual blob – and then quickly dives behind the buildings. The daytime lasts exactly eight hours – to a minute: from 7:56 AM till 3:56 PM.

I know some people who suffer from winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as it is officially called. The disease is known to have been “invented” by doctor Norman Rosenthal in the early 1980s. In my opinion, it can be no disease at all. Everything depends on the selected point of reference. Just as one and the same glass may be half-empty or half-filled, the today’s day may be the shortest day of the year, or you may think of tomorrow and say: the day is going to be a minute longer. I’m on the side of tomorrow.

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