• July 2020
    M T W T F S S
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Important Latin Words and Terms

Yesterday we talked about the value of the study of Latin. Today we give below some of the many Latin words and terms that all writers should know. These words and terms are seen written all around the world in almost all languages in all academic fields. Therefore, it’s important that all writers know them. They needn’t be learnt by heart, but it is a good idea to get familiarized with them as they are often seen written in different contexts in various media.

Most commonly used Latin words and expressions:

Ad hoc: to this. Something created for a specific purpose. Like an ad hoc committee.

Ad valorem: to the value. Something related to the value of another thing. For example, an ad valorem tax.

Affidavit: a sworn written statement. A legal statement.

Alibi: elsewhere. If a person has an alibi, it means he can prove he was elsewhere.

Bona fide: good faith. This mainly refers to contracts. To respect the contract, one must act in good faith.

De facto: common in practice. Something which is not established by law but is common in practice.  Like a de facto official language.

In toto: completely. Refers to something that is taken in its entirety. For example, taking a project in toto.

Modus operandi: a way of doing things. Mainly used when referring to a person’s way of doing things. Like  a thief’s modus operandi; that is, the way he goes about stealing.

Per se: by itself. When something is taken per se, it is taken by itself, without considering the external factors.

Prima facie: by first instance. This is used mainly in legal cases. If a case is prima facie, it means there is enough evidence to go forward with the indictment.

Pro bono: for the public good. If, for example, a lawyer works on a case pro bono, he works for the public good. In other words, he works for free.

Sic: thus. Sic is usually placed within brackets in front of incorrect word or words indicating that the words are not the writer’s.

Terra firma: solid earth. Being on terra firma refers to be being on firm ground rather than on sea.

Vice versa: the other way around. For example, if you say “he likes her and vice versa”, it means that she too likes him.

Vox populi: voice of the people. Refers to the general public, or the voice of the common man.

Which other Latin word or term do you think should also have been included here?

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Difference between Colloquialism and Slang

People often use the word colloquialism for slang, and slang for colloquialism. The reason for this is that quite often people take them to mean the same thing. Colloquialism and slang do overlap to a certain extent, but they are actually two distinct forms of language.

How do colloquialism and slang overlap? In other words, how are they alike? The answer to this is – they are both informal, and they are both spoken forms of language. Now one may ask if they are both informal and both spoken forms of the language, then how can they be different? Well, the difference is this –

Colloquial language is the informal language used by people in every day speech. Its form is distinct to certain people and lends them their identity. Colloquialism may be words, phrases, or complete aphorisms. For example:

Word – gonna

Phrase – what’s up?

Aphorism – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer

Slang, on the other hand, is more informal than colloquialism. It is used only by certain groups – like teenagers or people of certain professions.  For example:

Stinks – for “is bad”

Buzz off – for “go away”

Salad dodger – an obese person

Other differences are:

* Colloquialism is considered standard language, but slang is not

* Colloquialism is geographically restricted, whereas slang may be used in any culture or class of society

* Colloquialism enriches a language, while slang waters it down.

Do you know of any other difference between colloquialism and slang?

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Avoid the Use Clichés

So many blog posts and articles have been written about the overuse of clichés and why they should be avoided. Even writing and journalism courses give the same advice – ‘Avoid the use of clichés. They are stale and boring. Writers are supposed to be creative, say what you have to say differently’. Still we see their use everywhere. Their power is such that no matter how hard we try, they seem to creep up through whichever way they can. The reason for this may be that we are so used to hearing them, that they inadvertently enter our writing; or they are used for their brevity and precision – they say so much in so few words. Whatever the reason, the rule remains – avoid the use of clichés when writing, especially in business writing. An executive who uses these terms is not only regarded as a bad leader, but a non-creative force as well. The impression is – if you cannot be creative with words, you cannot be creative in business.

Some of the most common clichés used in business are:

  • at the end of the day
  • win-win situation
  • bottom line
  • thinking outside the box
  • wealth of experience
  • low hanging fruit
  • in a nutshell
  • put all the eggs in one basket
  • giving 100%
  • strike while the iron is hot
  • no brainer
  • turn-key solution
  • beat a dead horse
  • everything from soup to nuts
  • leaps and bounds

The list is endless.

Besides sounding boring, clichés have a disadvantage, too. In today’s world, when business has gone global and letters and e-mails have to be written to foreign countries, there are chances of these terms not being understood.  Unless the person reading the clichés is fluent in English and understands the implied meanings, it is best not to use them. But how can you tell if the person will understand them? You can’t. So, this means – don’t use clichés.

According to a recent research, the most used business cliché is “at the end of the day”. Why do you think this is the most used? Do you think some other term should have topped the list? If so, which one?

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Poetry Terms

Today I’ll put together some poetry terms for those of you looking for them or their meanings. There are lots more but it’s not possible to put them all together in one post, so I’ll just give the most important. I hope this will prove to be useful to those of you interested in poetry… but even you’re not interested in poetry, it’s always good to improve your vocabulary, isn’t it?

First off, what are poetry terms? These are the terms used to describe content or structure of a poem.  The terms:

Alliteration: Repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of words. Seven scientists saw some stars – all the words begin with the same sound, s.

Assonance:  Repetition of the same vowel sound. Suppose Rose goes to Moe’s – all the words have to o sound.

Caesura: A pause or break within a line of poetry.  To err is human,|| to forgive divine (Alexander Pope) – the break is between human and to.

Enjambment: Continuation of a sentence from one line to the next in a verse.

Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now….
(Robert Browning)

Foot: Two or more stressed and/or unstressed syllables that together make up the smallest unit of rhythm in a poem.

Meter: An arrangement in which the stresses occur at equal intervals.

Metrical foot: Two or more syllables with stresses occurring at equal intervals. There are four basic types of metrical feet.

(i) iambic (noun = iamb): an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one – to SWELL the GOURD, and PLUMP the HAzel shells (John Keats)

(ii) trochaic (noun = trochee): a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one – SHOULD you ASK me, WHENCE these STORies (Henry W. Longfellow)

(iii) anapestic (noun = anapest): two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one – Unless SOMEone like YOU cares a WHOLE awful LOT (Dr. Seuss)

(iv) dactylic (noun = dactyl): a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones – THIS is the FORest primEVal, the MURmering PINES and the HEMlocks (Henry W. Longfellow)

Rhyme: Same or similar sounds in two or more words. Town and crown have the same sounds.

Rhythm: Repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables in lines of poetry. I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused, or following…
(Walt Whitman)

Scansion: The process of describing the meter of a poem by marking the stresses in a poem (with a u on an unstressed syllable and a / on a stressed syllable).

Stanza: A division or a unit of a poem formed of two or more lines.

Versification: The system of rhyme and meter in poetry.

Not found the term you’re looking for? Do write in and ask.

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Writing Terms and Phrases

In the world of writing, there are certain terms and phrases which are specific to the writing field. While some of these relate to only writing, there are others which may have one meaning when generally used, and another when specifically applied to writing or anything related to it. What are these different writing terms and phrases? For easy reference, Word-Mart has compiled a list. Though by no means comprehensive, the Glossary does contain the most often used writing terms and phrases. It’s worth bookmarking. Have a look:



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