Welcome to another newsletter from A Way with Words!

This past weekend we celebrated National Grammar Day (again):


We also discussed "booby trap," played a quiz based on "snowclones," and talked about the word "piker."

This morning we also posted our next online-only minicast in which we talk about "careen," "career," and "carom." Listen here:


Now it's time for the mailbag!

Bill in Indiana writes, "I was observing a presentation on Friday and one of the slides had '…get others opinions…' (no apostrophe) with the meaning of 'get the opinion of others.' I had him put an apostrophe in '…get others' opinions…' but it still looked awkward. Ultimately we changed it to 'opinion of others.' Was I correct in my '…others'…?"

Bill, you were right. The plural noun needed the possessive apostrophe after the S. But I'm glad you did the rewrite. It removed uncertainty and let you concentrate on the content rather than the manner in which it was delivered.

Abraham in San Diego writes with his "suggestion for a word to describe the confusion between reality and the computer, and that desire to use shortcut keys in the real world: datachresis."

That's a blend of data and catachresis, the use of a word in a way that is not correct.

John in La Jolla, Calif., suggests such a situation is "clickless," while Kathy says it's a case of "deja compute."

Dave in San Marcos writes to comment on our "How to Address an Envelope to a Married Couple Minicast" (<http://waywordradio.org/envelope/>) in which Emily explained how she was uncomfortable addressing thank-you letters to "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith." Emily though Mrs. Smith deserved to have her first name in there, too.

Dave says, "I have a simple solution for Emily of San Diego. It does not solve the larger problem, but because she has a check, she can simply address the letter to the names exactly as they appear on the check. If it a joint account, most likely the preferences of the account owners will be reflected in the way they have chosen to have their checks printed. An alternative would be to address the correspondence to the name on the signature line, thus giving thanks to that individual who actually wrote the check."

That's possible, Dave, but people will often get their checks printed in a way that masks their full name so that a someone couldn't forge their signature on stolen checks.

Further, checks for joint accounts often have the man and the woman's name printed on separate lines, which is something Emily already rejected.

Also, we're not sure there's a guarantee that anyone considers the name on a check to be the one perfect place to make their naming preferences known.

Finally, as you say, two names may be on the check but perhaps only one party is giving the money. Your signature line idea is pretty good, though the problem is still not completely solved, we think.

Your comments are still welcomed!

Best wishes,

Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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