Questions in the Writing & Language category.
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November 8, 2022
It's (going to be) that time of year again, where I find gifts for people who already have everything. Recommend me some good nonfiction books from this year or last (but not too good, or they'd already own them). *or something else I can give them; clever solutions welcome
November 5, 2022
...ie, the Chinese language words / expressions in the Joy Luck Club (the novel). Can someone help me figure out what some of these might be if written in characters? Simplified or traditional, it's all good. [more inside]
The term "soapbox" is used in its modern meaning, I'm told, because people would stand up on upturned soapboxes in the street in order to yell their message at passers-by. But why soapboxes, and not any other type of box? [more inside]
November 2, 2022
The U2 post on the blue got me thinking: The Edge, The Rock and The Public Universal Friend are all people known primarily, or close to it, by names beginning with the definite article. What others are out there? I'm looking for non-fictional, known individuals. I'm excluding titles (the King), fictional characters (the Joker), placeholders for unknown people (the Zodiac Killer), or epithets following the name (Andre the Giant).
October 30, 2022
Hasn't she always been Lady Lilibet? [more inside]
October 26, 2022
The story would have appeared in one of the science fiction magazines (Analog, Asimov’s) in probably mid to late 1990s (roughly). Main character is a classic gifted (bordering on genius) child who hasn’t lived up to their potential as a young adult, but with a twist: as a child, they were visited by aliens(?), and they spend all of their time trying to build a machine to re-contact their childhood friends, living at home with parents, possibly working a menial minimum wage job or possibly unemployed.
I had a hankering to read some good video game journalism - video game reviews in specific, but about the culture in general is fine too. I'm looking for the type of articles where the enthusiasm of the reviewer really comes across. Also, articles where the reviewer uses the video game as a platform to go off on tangent discussions. Doesn't have to be super current. Thanks!
Hofstadter in his amazing A Person Paper on Purity in Language notes that he did not simply take a Safire column and substitute race for gender to write his satire, but that he was using Safire as his principle inspiration. Without needing to purchase anything Safire wrote or otherwise indicate support for him, can anyone point me to a column or two of his defending gendered language? [more inside]
October 24, 2022
I have a friend who's looking for a book. It's about a girl who can control shadows and has a connection to the moon somehow. Can you help us find this book? [more inside]
October 23, 2022
I am after expressions or slang terms for very junior people who, when given small amounts of power or recognition in organisations, let that go to their heads. [more inside]
October 22, 2022
I'm interested in reading a good, engaging history of the Battle of Agincourt—particularly one that directly grapples with the various contradictory sources and unresolved questions about the battle. Bonus points if there's an audio version (extra bonus if the reader has a lovely British accent). Thanks!
October 21, 2022
I’m part of a Ukraine-related volunteer project that involves translating or fixing/editing auto-generated and auto-translated captions (usually 70% accurate, 30% gibberish) from Youtube videos that we did not create ourselves. We are starting from the transcript that's available to normal youtube viewers. No access to the creator's original files. We do different things with the result depending on whether we know the creator or not and that affects the format we need the end result to be in. I need advice. Questions about word processor stuff and best format practices below the fold. [more inside]
October 15, 2022
I'm interested in engaging history books about the pre-modern era—aside from that, any time period or part of the world is great. Specifically, though, I'm looking for authors who spend some time—but not too much!—grappling with the difficulties posed by contradictory sources or simply missing information. A couple of examples inside. [more inside]
October 12, 2022
In my work life, I am a straightforward person who tends to keep professional communications quite matter of fact. I write short sentences and use simple vocabulary. However, it's clear to me that a more elaborate, literary style is preferred by my superiors. I find this very hard to put into practice. How can I change my professional writing style? [more inside]
I'm almost hesitant to wade in on this issue because many people, including me, feel so strongly about it. But while I can come up with numerous examples where the Oxford comma provides much-needed clarification, and a few examples where it really doesn't matter, I can't conceive of an example where the Oxford comma actually confuses matters. Can you? Or shall I remain forever a steadfast proponent of the Oxford comma, regardless of what the style guides say?
As a reading challenge, I’d like to read the best novel set in each US state. What are your favorites? [more inside]
October 11, 2022
Several posts back, I asked if I should try to get my play, (which is being turned into a musical, and which was based on a self-published book) produced in its own right. The responses were clearly toward getting it produced. So (after some fear-based procrastination), I got around to sending requests for information on how to do that to Dramatist, Pioneer, Broadway and Concord play publishers. [more inside]
October 10, 2022
I'm due to happily march my high school sophomores through the difference between compound and complex sentences. I do not understand how they are actually different. Please help me understand. [more inside]
October 8, 2022
I have a female character that needs a name and accompanying diminutive with some parameters. [more inside]
October 7, 2022
English idiom usage: In contemporary English language use, does the appositive: "if not impossible" -- as used in the example sentence: "It would be difficult, if not impossible, for this machine to produce 100 widgets in a day" -- most commonly imply: A.) "It would be difficult, but I'm specifically allowing that it's not impossible..." or, B.) "It would at the very least be 'difficult'; and if not merely difficult, it might actually be impossible."? [more inside]