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Our Living Language

Don’t despair that your teenage son’s vocabulary seems limited to Uh huh, Sweet! and ‘sup (for "What’s up?"). And don’t fret that smiley faces have replaced perfectly fine words in email. The English language is still breathing and evolving. Consider these new words and expressions,… continue reading

CEO Is Not an Acronym!

In a recent post, I referred to CEO as an acronym, but it’s not. Now that I have been corrected, I’ll share my learning with you. CEO (for Chief Executive Officer) is an initialism–not an acronym. We pronounce each letter, just as we do with ATM,… continue reading

Email: The Numbers Game

Early this morning one of our clients returned our Friday phone call. She explained that she had been out of the office all day on Friday. While she was gone, she had received 70 email messages and 5 voice mail messages. Given her day away… continue reading

The Downside of Email

Example 1: Five days ago I sent email to two clients letting them know about a training discount that would expire today. I got no response. Today our Client Services Manager phoned to remind them of the deadline. They both signed. Example 2: Several times over… continue reading

Best Reference Book for Writers

Last week in our Grammar and Punctuation for Professionals class at a Seattle firm, participants raised a lot of nitty gritty questions, as usual: Question: Does 1990s have an apostrophe in it? Answer: No, not anymore. Question: If you use a dash between dollar amounts… continue reading

A Magic Tale of Email

A manager was working late last night, slogging through the last of her email, when she noticed a strange lamp on the bookshelf. She picked it up. Since the lamp was dusty, she rubbed it with a cloth she kept in her desk drawer. As… continue reading

August Sales in August?

Our local business journal ran a headline in its online version this week: "Home sales last month were august." At first, I thought I had stumbled on a typo. Reading the first sentence, I was certain I had: "Western Washington home sales and prices continued… continue reading

What She Would Have Said

Last week a client wrote asking for help with this problem sentence: "By assisting the credit union industry, we directly help our broader, credit union community and indirectly assist people to access money and get back on their feet." She was wondering about the word… continue reading

Acronyms and Your CEO

Acronyms deserve their bad reputation. Those TLAs (three-letter acronyms) are guilty of excluding, confusing, and delaying readers. And what’s worse–many times we can’t agree on what they stand for. Nevertheless, like carbohydrates, snowmobiles, and pigeons, there’s a place for them. For example, CEO is just… continue reading