Urban Dictionary Answers the Question: “What is ‘Foot Jerky’?”


While sitting in my grammar class talking about how language can change with time, our professor gave some examples of new words being used that will likely end up in a mainstream dictionary if they haven’t already. 

Words like “selfie”, “crunk” and “shawty” have been used in pop-culture for a while now and are showing up in mainstream texts.

This reminded me of a great place where words like this are born: The Urban Dictionary.

In my mind, I sort of consider it like a new word kiddie pool – the place where new words go to see if they have what it takes to catch on in modern society.

I wandered on over to Urban Dictionary and began to peruse the words that they had approved for entry.  I confess: I laughed more than once.

Then, I stumbled upon this entry:


Can I just say how much I am enjoying this fantastic site for new words?  Ordinary people are so creative!

What are some new words that you love?



Reasonable Writing


by: Shannon Hames

There have been times that, while taking my editing class, that I have read rules of grammar or editing that cause me to worry I won’t be able to remember them.  I read them and think to myself, “This is a lot to store upstairs.  What if I forget?”  Then I read the rule again and think about it and realize that many of these rules have rational foundations – that I can reason them out instead of just memorizing.  Here are a few examples of what I came across while researching this topic:

  1. Titles: Capitalize formal titles only when they precede an individual’s name. If the title falls after the name, then it’s lowercase. So: President Barack Obama is running against Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.Doesn’t that rule make sense when you think about it?
  2. Web site or website. In 2010, the AP made “website” one word instead of two words.  When I reason this out in my mind, I just remember that the old way had it as two words but as progress is made, we tend to simplify things so now, it’s one word.
  3. Email. Another recent change: Drop the hyphen in email. (Before 2011, AP style said to write “e-mail.”) Reasoning: the same as above.  Through time, we simplify.
  4. Numbers/numerals. Write out numbers one through nine, and use figures for 10 and above. The rationale that helps me remember this is the small numbers (one through nine) are small words to write.  After nine, when the numbers start going into double digits, they become too cumbersome to write.  Therefore, we use numerals to save our sanity.
  5. Toward/towards. AP style follows the American English form, toward. In British English, towards is preferred. The same goes for forward, backward, upward, downward, etc. The rational thought that helps me to remember this is that in England, things are more formal and, between toward and towards, the more formal word is towards.

Sometimes, just taking a few moments to consider a rule and think about how you might file it in your mind is a good way to seal the rule mentally.  When we read rules or just skim them, we may forget or have to re-visit the rulebook over and over.  For me, it makes sense to just take a moment to think about how and why a rule is presented.  By processing this way, the rule tends to stick in my mind permanently and the only thing I ever need to worry about is reading updates from the rulebooks.

15 Proofreading Tips


by: Shannon Hames

As a help to my readers, I scoured the internet and collected tips for proofreading to help editors and students alike.  Here are my best finds:

  1. Read it out loud and also silently.
  2. Use a spell checker and grammar checker as a first screening, but don’t depend on them.
  3. Have others read it.
  4. Read it slowly.
  5. Read it for certain types of problems, then re-read it for others.  For example, your first read through might be to check for spelling errors, the second for usage errors, the third for factual errors, etc,.
  6. Use a screen (a blank sheet of paper to cover the material not yet proofed).
  7. Point with your finger to read one word at a time.
  8. If you are editing within Word, use the “track changes” function to make your comments visible to other reviewers
  9. Print it out and read it.
  10. Read down columns in a table, even if you’re supposed to read across the table to use the information. Columns may be easier to deal with than rows.
  11. Buddy proof! Give a copy of the document to another person and keep a copy yourself. Take turns reading it out loud to each other. While one of you reads, the other one follows along to catch any errors and awkward-sounding phrases. This method also works well when proofing numbers and codes.
  12. Double check fonts that are unusual (italic, bold, or otherwise different).
  13. Double check proper names.
  14. Closely review page numbers and other footer/header material for accuracy and correct order.
  15. Concentrate!  Read it slowly and with purpose, like you are on a treasure hunt!

Introverts and Editing

By: Shannon Hames

I gave birth to an introvert.  I knew she was different from the time she was a baby.  Her brother who came before her always enjoyed being rocked to sleep.  She just wanted to be put in her crib and left to fall asleep on her own.  When neighborhood kids came over to play, she would excitedly go out with them and join in the fun.  Then return 45 minutes later to retreat to her room to read a book.  When she was 14 and I offered to buy her Dippin’ Dots, her favorite ice cream, she was over the moon excited.  Until I told her to take the money to the counter and order it.  Then, she politely declined said treat to avoid talking to a stranger.  Ugh!

A few weeks ago, I read a book called “Quiet” by Susan Cain.  It was basically talking about how we have evolved into a culture that values extroverts over introverts and we think that there is something wrong with people who are quiet and shy.  She does a great job, however, of documenting how very productive introverts can be and that most of them become masterful in skills that they practice in solitude.  For many introverts, these skills include reading and writing.  For this reason, a large number of introverts end up with careers as editors and writers.  They can enjoy the silence, their eyes are keen to pick up errors and they can have wonderful imaginations.  It made me wonder how many editors and writers that read this blog are introverts?  Take my poll:

Edit Poetry?


by: Shannon Hames

Who remembers being in elementary school and discovering poetry?

And wondering about the messed up punctuation?

And all of the rules that the teacher allowed you to ignore in poetry that you would have gotten a red mark on your paper for in any other writing?

Who remembers the term “poetic license?”  It was a free trip to Disney World to say your peace and not worry about rules.

Anarchy on paper!

You don’t even need to put a period there

Words don’t have to rhyme.

Screw capitalization if you don’t feel like it should be that way.  Save it for another day!


And the Hai-Ku?

Say what you want, no matter what… it’s all based on syllables!


A Hai Ku about getting out of bed in the morning:

No. No. No. No. No.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

No. No. No. No. No.

How do you like me now, editor?  What are you going to do with my angry poetry rant?

How do you make this better without making it worse?

It’s all in your mind, editor

You think you can do better than me?

You think you can edit me?

Think again…

The Bible: Editing Issues?

By: Shannon Hames

Never one to shy away from controversy, I thought I would examine the claims that people make while debating that the Bible is/isn’t the inerrant word of God. So much of our culture is derived from religious tradition that it often prevents people from examining claims that are made against their beliefs because to do so might mean abandoning everything that they’ve ever known and trusted.

The books in the Bible are a collection of smaller books written by men who were supposedly writing them down under the direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit.  Those words have somehow transcended through historical and cultural context and made leaps past developments in Science to still have the exact same meaning today as they did when they were written (in some cases, 3,500 years ago).

Because paper was unavailable and expensive in ancient past, it was always an extreme and expensive task to have it written and translated.  The first part of the Bible was written in ancient Hebrew.  The New Testament was written in ancient Greek.  These texts were translated by monks who had no knowledge of ancient cultures.  What we need to ask ourselves is, at any time in history, were people such as monks, who were transcribing and translating texts so often, faced with the task of writing down things that didn’t make any sense in their language or culture?  Would they have changed the words to make it more meaningful and relevant without worrying about what the original meaning really meant?

There are websites that you can search on to see original written texts that were changed or mis-translated into something new.  I find this fascinating because it shows that scribes not only had to be scholars to understand ancient languages, and artists able to illustrate the pages and fonts, but also editors who were attempting to assess who their audience was and make the words become something that that audience would be able to read.  It is a fascinating topic, to say the least!