You Don't Say

You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.
Take the cache and let the edit go

Today on Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski quoted from a text and pronounced the word cache as “cash-ay.” This is a common confusion.

Both cache, pronounced “cash,” and cachet, pronounced “cash-ay,” derive from the French cacher, “to hide.” Cache has a direct route into English, a verb meaning “to conceal,” as one secures food on a camping trip to keep it from raccoons and bears.

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The Republic in safe hands

Yesterday, as the 116th Congress assumed office, two Muslim representatives were sworn in as they held copies of the Quran—one of them, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, with a 1734 English translation once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Today, inevitably, someone I know on Facebook posted a spittle-flecked meme that said, “We now have 2 Muslims voted into congress.

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The usual suspects

During four decades of editing in big-time journalism, I’ve encountered few exotic specimens. You sit at the bench for hours, and it’s always the same damned mistakes that everyone makes all the time. You spend your shift rounding up the usual suspects:

It’s for its.

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Lay that burden down

One of the readers of yesterday’s post on the increasingly rapid decay of whom in general usage asked the inevitable question: “What's your thinking on lie/lay?”

From direct experience over more than two decades with undergraduates in Loyola University Maryland’s Communication Department, I can tell you that students do not hear the distinction, even the smart ones.

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Just use "who"

All right, people, we have been here before. I’m going to go over this one last time and then be done with it. Most of you should just give up on whom and not look back.

I have told you before: The question I have been asked most frequently during nearly forty years as a professional editor is “Should this be who or whom?”

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What editors mean

A translation of your editor’s stock comments.

You’ve done a good job here.

This may be salvageable.

I see what you’ve done here.

I don’t like it.

This is not quite what I was looking for.

This is not written the way I would have written it.

There are one or two little points I’d like to go over.

We are going to take this thing apart and rebuild it, piece by piece.

It could use more sweep.

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