Archive | Grammar tips

When word choice becomes a political act

Part of our job as editors is to tweak any language that might make readers feel excluded or stereotyped – for example, changing ‘firemen’ to ‘firefighters’. In theory, this could be seen as a political act, but these days ‘some firefighters are women’ is hardly controversial, and we wouldn’t expect any pushback. So it is […]

Continue Reading

The unexpected history of ‘Mrs’

The use of ‘Ms’, once controversial, is now mainstream. But it’s not so long ago it was viewed as political correctness gone mad. Personally, it’s bizarre to imagine that complete strangers ever felt entitled to know whether or not I am married. Picture a news article beginning ‘The unmarried CEO of BHP Billiton today announced…’ […]

Continue Reading

The truth about texting

Are you really committing a grievous error by using correct punctuation in text messages? A recent study out of the US getting a lot of media attention seems to suggest exactly that. But how much can we really read into their findings? ‘Texting insincerely: The role of the period in text messaging’, by Binghamton University, […]

Continue Reading

Barbarous mutilations

Text messaging, tweeting and other electronic communications have led to an increasing use of abbreviations over the past few years. Some of us might grumble at this informality, but it was ever thus – the ancient Greeks and Romans shortened words to save space and time, even when chiselling into a stone tablet, as did […]

Continue Reading

Beware the dangling modifier

What’s wrong with these sentences? Yesterday, after conferring with my senior national security advisers and following extensive consultations with our coalition partners, Saddam Hussein was given one last chance. (President Bush in the Chicago Tribune, 1991) Driving home recently, a thick pall of smoke turned out to be Deepak’s bungalow, well alight. Their meaning is […]

Continue Reading

Time to get with the program/me

Under the new dispensation of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, there are going to be a few changes. But here at Red Pony we’ll restrict our discussion to the orthographical changes (that’s ‘spelling’ to you and me). Reviewing some of the Coalition policy documents released in the lead-up to the election, some senior public servants noticed […]

Continue Reading