Nostalgic for Obsolete Words? Here’s A Green Light for Words You Could Still Be Using
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© Tilo | Dreamstime.com – Traffic Light On Green Photo

Last week’s post was all about words to avoid. Let’s flip that idea around and add a few words that you could be using.

These fun words are obsolete and have fallen out of use. The Mother Nature Network website explains that words become extinct when we don’t use them. They may still exist in the dictionary, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are in use. Maybe a few people use them for high points in Scrabble, but that’s probably about it.

Here are a few fun words that may deserve your attention. This short list flows joyfully off the tongue:

  • callipygian (adj.)–owning a pair of shapely buttocks
  • cockalorum (n.)–a boastful person
  • crapulous (adj.)–unrestrained eating or drinking, ill from overindulgence in alcohol
  • frigorific (adj.)–chilly, causing cold
  • fudgel (v.)–pretending to work
  • gorgonize (v.)–to have a deer-in-the-headlights, mezmerizing effect
  • jirble (v.)–To pour carelessly
  • quidnunc (n.)–an inquisitive, gossipy person
  • slugabed (n.)–someone who stays in bed far after it’s time to get up
  • snobroth (n.)–newly melted snow

Visit the article to see some examples for using these words, and to check out a few more that I didn’t include here.

This is, by no means, the definitive list. How about a few more, fetched from the deathandtaxesmag.com site:

  • beef-witted (adj.)–having an inactive brain, owing to consuming too much beef
  • California widow (n.)–a married woman whose husband is away from her for an extended time
  • curglaff (adj.)–the shock felt when plunging into cold water
  • lunting (v.)–walking while smoking a pipe
  • wonder-wench (n.)–a sweetheart

Or how about this selection, gleaned from Matador Network:

  • brannigann (n.)–a drinking binge
  • freck (v.)–to move quickly
  • jollux (n.)–a fat person
  • kench (v.)–to laugh loudly

I’ve often thought that we should also bring back some of the colorful words used during Shakespeare’s time, but that’s the subject of another future post…

Add a few of your favorite, obsolete words here…More lists coming from the #FunWithWords blog, from #YourWebWriter.

 

 

The Slang and Not-So-Slang Words to Avoid Using This Year
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© Stockyimages | Dreamstime.com - Handsome Man Covering His Mouth With Hand Photo

© Stockyimages | Dreamstime.com – Handsome Man Covering His Mouth With Hand Photo

We’re a quarter of the way through 2015…Time to look at words to quit using, if you haven’t already done so.

This year, Lake Superior State University revealed its 40th Annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. Perhaps this list is one of the oldest running lists of lexicon pet peeves. This year’s nominees include:

Bae
polar vortex
hack
skill set
swag
foodie
cra-cra
takeaway
enhanced interrogation
-nation
curate/curated

Check out their website if you’ve never heard of these words or don’t know their meanings. I hadn’t heard of a few of them, looked them up, and now, I seem to hear these words all the time! They’re haunting me!

By no means is this the definitive list of words to lose. Time.com has their own list. Although they agree with the above list, they add some unusual nouns, like “kale”. Their list includes slang that I find embarrassing to type and need to make sure my auto spell-check is turned off:

om nom nom nom
obvi
said no one ever
sorry not sorry
turnt
yaaasssss

The lists above were compiled through polls. It makes me wonder who is answering these polls.

If you are into PR, your list of words and phrases to ban will be more erudite. These are the catchphrases that the UK firm Houston PR warns against using in their PR buzzwords buzzsaw list. Too many to list here, but their top five are:

so-to-speak
horizon-scanning
next-generation
solutioning
blue sky thinking

Go to the article on adweek.com to see the rest of the list. Or go to their current, ongoing interactive database of buzzwords to avoid.

More lists coming…Check out future editions of the #FunWithWords blog, from #YourWebWriter.

How to Prevent #WordCrimes
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“Is your prose dopey?
Think you should only
write in emogi?

You should hire some cunning linguist
to help you distinguish
what is proper English.”
—-From the song and video “Word Crimes” by “Weird Al” Yankovic

Thank you for inadvertently promoting my YourWebWriter.com services, Weird Al!

Weird Al champions one of my dearest causes in the new song and video below, “Word Crimes”. (It’s a parody of Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines”.)

Now the back story: I’ve always loved Weird Al’s music. Of course, as a musician myself (a harper, not a rocker), I can appreciate his spot-on music parodies. But my love of his music dates back to growing up in L.A., in “The Val”. My first exposure to Weird Al’s music was on the Dr. Demento radio show. Dr. Demento is credited to discovering Weird Al and simply claims, “I think without The Dr. Demento Show, the probability is high that Alfred Yankovic would be a professional architect today.” (quote from “Dr. Demento: Off The Air, But Still Happily Deranged”, NPR, June 22, 2010)

But what is it that I find most endearing about Weird Al? He looked exactly like my brother, George…or my brother, George, looked exactly like Weird Al. I don’t know which came first. No matter.

George would don shorts and a Hawaiian shirt in hopes that the cute girls at UCLA would think he was the real Weird Al. I even heard tale that George even crashed frat parties impersonating Weird Al. Alas, this may be all the stuff of myths.

WeirdAlSuitcase

Weird Al Yankovic, not my brother. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/ogz2von)

What is not a myth is that one day, the stars aligned and they met. On that fateful day, George walked into the Studio City Bowling Alley (now known as PINZ Bowling Center), and there stood his doppelgänger. They approached each other and at the same time exclaimed, “You look like me!”

That was long ago. George grew a goatee, cut his hair, and became a successful insurance agent. Weird Al grew his hair long, shaved the mustache, and tossed the glasses. And of course, Weird Al went on to be much more than the professional architect that Dr. Demento imagined he might have been.

Like my dear brother, who always rescues me out of the pickles I seem to get into, Weird Al has now come to my rescue. He is supporting my cause for using good English. Indeed, “Weird Al” Yankovic has a mighty big dictionary.

Seriously, if you need some help with writing the kind of copy that gets noticed for all the right reasons (good grammar, interesting topics, and search engine optimization), I’m here to help. Visit my menu of services, fill out the contact form, or scroll to the bottom of this page and send along an email or give me a call.

Special thanks to Shel, at Moore Than SEO, for turning my attention to this video. And of course, a big “Thank You!” to my brother and to Weird Al!

4 Unexpected Ways SEO Can Give You Better Hair
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iStock_HairCut_SmallYes, SEO can be like the Rogaine for your business…But why am I talking about SEO here when this is supposed to be a blog about having Fun With Words?

It’s simple. Google and all the other search engines value the way you use words to attract people to your site. If you attract them the nice way, known as “Organic SEO“, Google rewards you. The nice way is to write quality content, not count the number of keywords you placed in your blog or on your website pages. It’s got to make sense and be relevant to your reader. But if it’s just a journal or a diary about you, without any value for your target customers, it won’t gather new sales, either.

Today’s SEO relies on social media mentions. People don’t use the Yellow Pages much anymore when they are searching for a product or service. They just whip out their iPad, tablet, iPhone, android, or laptop, hop on the Internet, and go searching. Positive reviews, blog posts, and backlinks (hyperlinks to a particular service) found in Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn posts make certain lucky websites appear at the top of search engines. How do they get lucky? Search engines now rely on how many people are talking about your site or blog to determine where it belongs in the search engine results, plain and simple. The more people talk about your business, the higher the rank.

So, how can organic SEO put your mind at ease and be the Rogaine for your business?

1. You’ll have more visitors, more readers, and very possibly more sales. You’ll  have the ability to get more conversions–The more people exposed to your pages, the higher the probability that they will fill out and submit a form on your site or buy a product (as long as you are targeting the right audience). More sales means that you won’t lose your hair over lost revenue.

2. More online word-of-mouth means that like-minded people who  love your services and products could spread the word to future clients and customers. Farming for more clients and customers means that you are planting hair plugs for the future. Get the analogy?

3. It gets you noticed by other businesses who’ll want to connect with you. Referrals are always a good thing–They make you feel like you have a hairdresser waiting in the wings, ready to step in and fix those out-of-place locks.

4. You can rest easy knowing that your business will be found on the Internet, whether someone Googles a few relevant keywords, or whether they read a blog or social media post. You won’t lose sleep wondering whether the time and money you invested into building your site was worthwhile. You won’t lose your hair over lost sleep.

Don’t care about losing your hair? Then revert back to the old-fashioned word-stuffing ways of the past. Trade links with sites that are irrelevant to your business. And then watch the search engines drop your page waaaaaaaay down the list in search rankings, or maybe even not list your page at all. How will your site be found?

Good, organic SEO is a lot of work. Like tending to your hair regularly with a good shampoo and visits to the salon, organic SEO needs to be tended to on a regular basis. If you don’t know beans about this stuff, you should hire someone who does. Get started with solid, interesting writing. Get noticed among all the crazy online businesses that are vying for your customers’ attention. Get organic SEO writing, and get better hair.

 

Fun With Words for April Fool’s Day
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Practical jokes abound for April Fool’s Day. Why is this the accepted day for tomfoolery? One theory was due to the change of calendars from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. New Year’s Day was transferred from April 1st to January 1st, so anyone who still thought April 1st was the beginning of the New Year was considered to be a fool. But this is just one theory–This link takes you to more info about the history of April Fool’s Day.

For a bit of fun with words for this April Fool’s Day, here is a recent video mash-up of the show Jeaopardy! that late night TV host Conan O’Brien concocted. And it includes Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek’s retaliation, so make sure to watch the video to the end.  

Now it’s your turn. Post a link to your favorite word mash-up in the comment section below, in honor of having fun with words for April Fool’s Day. 

Keeping Up Your Writing Skills Using Snail Mail
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My friends, Corey and Liam, over at IrishFireside.com have begun a new project–The Irish Pen Pal Project–and it got me thinking about how truly great writing is becoming a lost art. Even over the holidays, when a hand-addressed card received in the postal mail is not so very uncommon, the contents are slim: pre-printed messages on cards and often, a mass-produced Christmas newsletter. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing from friends and loved ones, but so seldom do the messages contain any real personalization.

Enter the Irish Pen Pal Project–A way to keep the old-fashioned art of correspondence alive and well. There is nothing better than the anticipation of opening up a letter from afar and reading a message that can be kept and savored and read again later, instead of receiving a digital message that can be deleted easily to make more room in the inbox.

So, to my dear friend Mr. Bill, who has kept all my letters over the years in shoe boxes, I dedicate this blog post to him. Learn the magic of keeping in touch by postal mail with an old acquaintance or long-lost friend that has fallen out of touch. Bone up on your writing skills while having fun, too.

If you want to get started, but you don’t have anyone to write to, you can join the Irish Fireside Pen Pal Project (if you are interested in sharing Irish heritage, culture or travel), or you can check out some of these other postal pen pal services online. From foodie pen pals to Star Trek pen pals, you can find the perfect person to start up a fascinating written conversation. The following general services are listed in no particular order, and they should get you started:

Marten’s Snail Mail Pen Pals Online–Has an online track record since 1998. A free site where you can search by country, age, gender, and language.

International Pen Friends–A paid site that matches you up with the best pen pal for you. It has a track record since 1997.

Global Penfriends–Find email or snail mail pen pals

Sassociations Pen Pal Directory–Where you can place your own pen pal ad for free. Search by age and gender.

Student Letter Exchange–Establishing pen pals for students, ages 9-20, for over 75 years (this is a paid service)

Snail Mail PenPals for Kids, Students, and Teachers–A free site that selects your pen pal according to your wishes.

Have a Happy New Year!
All My Best,
Anne :-)

*Interested in the music playing in the above video? Yes, that is my music (I am also a harpist). You’ll find this arrangement of the Beatles tune “I Will” on my album Blue Jeans, which you can purchase at my Celtic Harp Music website. You’ll also find this track available for download on iTunes

My Personal List of Taboo Words
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There are some words that need a long vacation from the English language, because they really - question in letterpress typeare simply overused, redundant, or have no meaning. I’m keeping it brief and introducing my top seven list.

I’ve based this list on the fact that I am originally from the San Fernando Valley, the birthplace and home of “Valley Girl” talk. This vernacular became popular after I moved out of “The Val'”, so understandably, I have a deep aversion to speaking or writing that way. I particularly want to avoid the words that sound like the current “baby girl” talk of teenagers and young women (I don’t even like it when women do the baby talk when they sing). It sounds so terrible and unprofessional. This is why my list is personal, and these terms are a taboo for me:

1. Really—What does this mean when you write with it? It’s far more succinct to remove this adjective, and then the message sounds ever so much more stronger.

2. Very—Isn’t this the same thing as “Really”?

3. Just—I use this all the time when I talk, but it doesn’t add anything additional to the terms it is describing. Using more succinct adjectives are more descriptive, or removing the word from the sentence makes more sense.

4. Went, Go, and Going—Get more specific. How did you get there?

5. Stuff —This isn’t very descriptive, unless you are being casual and more specific terms aren’t necessary.

5. Things—Yep, same goes for this term as “Stuff”. But I do get cutesy if I am being casual, by using the slang word “thingies”.

6. Like—Best used when you are “liking” something, but not to be used as “it was like”. More succinct terms of comparison make for stronger writing.

7. Irregardless—One of many words that don’t actually exist in the English language. Using “regardless” will do just fine. (My other pet peeve of an unknown word is “acrossed”. No such word.)

So in other words, writing in ways that avoid redundancy, using specific adjectives rather than adjectives that add no meaning, and applying real words that exist in the English language, make any statement more powerful.

Only when the writing is casual (emails to friends, social networking, blogging for a general public, for instance) do I try to write the way I speak in casual conversation, but too much monitoring of my writing should be avoided, too. After all, I want to speak so that my conversation will be heard, so I need to consider the audience first.

You might find it a good exercise to build your own list of words that you lean on and use that have little meaning. Use your new list as a checklist when you are in the process of proofing your writing.  

Of course, there are infinitely more words you may personally want to remove from your own writing, particularly if you lean on those words way too much. You’ll find a few sage lists of words, which you may agree with or not, at Entrepreneur.com, litreactor.com, tameri.com, freelancewriting.com, and elsewhere.

What is your taboo list of words? Please share (I might have forgotten a few here).

My Lesson From Accepting Guest Blog Posts
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1115855_32937600Many of you know that I am a writer and a musician (my other website is CelticHarpMusic.com). I also have a Celtic music and Celtic info blog, too. But I simply ran out of steam on that blog, having difficulties coming up with fresh content. So I began to  request posts from guest bloggers. My thought was, “There must be plenty of other writers out there, like me, who want to get their posts on the ‘net in exchange for a link back to the web page of their choice in their bio.”

Perhaps this is so, but there are also plenty of people out there who pose as writers but farm articles off to someone who does not have a good command of English. I recently encountered this, posted an article after much editing, and to my dismay, discovered that one of the facts the author included in the article was incorrect. I also discovered that the link included in the author bio was a dead link. I removed the blog post altogether, after putting time into editing and posting it. A lot of time was wasted on my part.

This isn’t to say that adding guest posts to your blog is a bad thing. In fact, I’ve received some great articles up until I had to pull that one article. I’ve learned my lesson–Vet out all articles submitted by guest bloggers before posting.

As a service to all of you who have blogs, here are my suggestions for deciphering whether to accept a blog post or not:

1. Does the article fit your blog theme? This is obvious. Only post info that would be of interest to your readers and your potential readers. And only post info that interests you.

2. Was the article written by the person who is submitting it? If you don’t know who the author is, the article may be suspect. Either the person submitting it wants to be incognito, which begs the question, “Why the anonymity?” Or the person submitting it is farming articles from somewhere else, which begs the question, “Is this original content?” Ask to see other samples of their work online, if you are unfamiliar with the author.

3. Is the article grammatically correct? Some correction for grammar is normal. Too much sends up a red flag that the author is either not a native speaker or writing purely with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind, stuffing the article with so many keywords that it’s rendered nonsensical. The article should flow like conversational speech–Read it out loud to see if it meets this test.

4. Do you trust the author with factual information? When accepting a guest post, you shouldn’t need to verify all the facts mentioned in the article. If you don’t know the author, and you aren’t sure if the facts in their article are correct, it is easier to go back to the author and ask them to cite their information. Don’t bother going through and checking the facts yourself–It can be a major time suck.

5. Is the information unique? Use a tool like copyscape.com to determine whether the info in the article was duplicated from elsewhere on the Internet. (Google frowns upon duplicate content in search results). If you post duplicate content, you may  receive terse requests to remove your post from the original authors of the content.

6. Is the author real? Request a short author bio, make sure the author supplies their first and last name, and you know where the author resides. Their hyperlink should go to a page that meets your approval, not an unsavory page or a page that is just a list of links. Don’t accept the post if the link they provide is dead.

7. If you are accepting images to post along with the article, what is the source of the image? Owners of images will definitely contact you if their images are used without their consent. Best to pay a nominal fee for images at a site like iStock.com, or pick up free images, with a subscription, to a site like stock.xchng (which is where I found the image for this article).

Head these problems off at the pass. Set some requirements for accepting guest blog posts. Set a number of words and a theme for the requirements. Most importantly, make sure the guest blogger understands that if the article is considered for posting, it will be edited for proper grammar and punctuation, and it may also be edited for content. In other words, authors need to understand that the article will be scrutinized before it is posted. If it doesn’t meet your standards, you are under no obligation to post it.

If you are not a writer and need content for your blog, you can avoid all of this vetting out of guest bloggers. Hire a writer to do the job for you (hint, hint). I am available to write fresh content for your blog. Visit my menu of services and contact me by filling out the form.

Please feel free to add additional suggestions that you may have for accepting and posting articles by guest authors on your blog.

New Word Gems for Today’s English
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From Stock.xchng at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1013210

From Stock.xchng at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1013210

Sometimes, as I write, I am in search of words that just don’t exist in the English language. I am left describing something that requires the use of many adjectives, when one or two words might have done the job. I often wish my thesaurus was more complete.

Perhaps turning to other languages could fill this void. Here are a few of my very favorite words that I wish English had an equivalent. To get the correct pronunciations, find a native speaker or check out forvo.com. The terms below, and more, can be found at Cracked.com, TheWeek.com, and SoBadSoGood.com:

• Nunchi (Korean)–Having enough of a social aptitude to avoid putting one’s foot in one’s own mouth.
• Espirit d’escalier (French)–Literally meaning, “Having the wit of the staircase.” This word describes when you can’t think of a good comeback until after you walked down the stairs and have left the building.
• Bakku-shan (Japanese)–That girl that looks attractive from behind, until she turns to look at you and you want to exclaim in shock, “Ewwwww!”.
• Desenrascanco (Portuguese)–Literally, “To untangle yourself, as if by magic, from the tendrils of a bad situation.” No preparation needed–You’re ready for any situation without any particular planning. It’s pulling a MacGyver.
• Sgiomlaireachd (Scottish Gaelic)–Rude interruptions during mealtime. Examples include those phone calls during dinnertime from marketers who want me to give up my credit card information or answer a lengthy political survey. Literally translated, it may mean, “A visit with less worth to you than even one cold french fry.
• Shlimazl (Yiddish)–Okay, so this is just one of perhaps a gazillion Yiddish words that the English language should contain, but this one is a good one. Perhaps you remember hearing it in the nonsensical jingle for the old “Laverne and Shirley” TV show: “Shlamiel, Shlimazl, Hozenpheffer incorporated.” [What the heck does that mean?]. Well Shlimazl is simply a poor sap who has terrible luck. It’s not a bit of a bad spell. This person  was born under the astrological sign of bad luck. (And a Shlamiel is more of a clumsy buffoon who may create bad luck for himself–pretty similar to a Shlimazle).
• Shemomedjamo (Georgian)–Literally means, “I accidentally I ate the whole thing.” That feast was so wonderful that you became an oinker and inhaled your food like a pig in a trough.
• Rhwe (Tsonga, South Africa)–This means, “To sleep on the floor without a mat, while drunk and naked.” Shades of Animal House.
• Zeg (Georgian)–This means, “The day after tomorrow.” What a useful term!
• Tartle (Scottish)–Can’t remember someone’s name at a business meeting? That nasty bit of embarrassment is what the Scots call a “tartle”.
• Pålegg (Norwegian)–Any food that could fit inside two slices of bread to produce a sandwich. Get creative here, because this isn’t just your luncheon meats. Think condiments and any creative foodstuffs. Use Pålegg to build your own Dagwood.
• Gigil (Filipino)–The automatic urge to squeeze or pinch something that is too darn cute. Babies come to mind, but puppies and kittens may fall into this category, too.
• Koi No Yokan (Japanese)–That feeling that you just may have become a victim of  love-at-first-sight.

Filling this void doesn’t necessarily mean borrowing exotic terms from other languages. Maybe we could resurrect old English words that have gone extinct. English is a chameleon, and it likes to reflect the present times. But why not bring obsolete, fun words back into usage? The following terms could still have meaning in today’s world. Find these and more examples at DeathandTaxes.com and BuzzFeed.com:

• Wonder-wench–A sweetheart. Truly, a wonderful girl.
• California widow–A married lady whose husband is nonexistent: He is often away for long periods of time.
• Cockalorum–A small man with a big opinion of himself.
• Curglaff–The shock you feel when you dive into frigid water.
• Groak--Watching someone eat and hoping that they will invite you to dine with them.
• Crapulous–Feeling like c*rap after eating and drinking waaaaaay too much.
• Callipygian–Having a beautiful rear end–The perfect description for Pippa Middleton.
• Lumming–A torrential downpour. A simple term to describe, “Raining cats and dogs.”
Elflock–Hair so tangled, it looks like the elves have been messing with it.
• Vocabulation–Using choice words.

It’s your turn. Please share below some words that have gone extinct in the English language. Or add a few that English should borrow from other languages.