Exhortation and Eulogy – African American Rhetoric Revisited

In my blog and newsletter, I have written about my preoccupations, not only about writing essentials and English fundamentals, but also about the social unrest and civil discourse around racial, economic, and sexual inequalities. Earlier posts focused on rhetoric, especially on how African American rhetoric developed not only for speaking well in public and legal …

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No longer so troubling – farther, further, good, well, bad, badly

The Writingessentialsbyellen.com blog has a new “look”: posts will be shorter so that readers can get the essential questions answered quickly, but links will be provided to previous and new essays that go deeper into the language usage and controversy points. Reply to the post to let me know how you like the new format. …

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What’s the difference between different from vs. different than and disinterested vs. uninterested

The Writingessentialsbyellen.com blog has a new “look”: posts will be shorter so that readers can get the essential questions answered quickly, but links will be provided to previous and new essays that go deeper into the language usage and controversy points. Reply to the post to let me know how you like the new format. …

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How to assure you distinguish between insure and ensure

This trio – assure, ensure, insure – is another example of words that appear on many lists of words often confused. As with earlier pairs discussed, such as alright vs. all right and anxious vs. eager, the usage guidelines vary since, as merriam-webster.com asserts, “there is no unanimity of opinion as to what is correct” …

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Wordplay: allude, elude; allusion, illusion, delusion

Although some language experts dislike when the words in this entry are confused or misused, these pairs of words have a playful connection and do not hold the same intense controversy as other pairs, such as all right and alright or anxious and eager. (These words share the Latin root word ludere which means “to …

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Are you discombobulate when you see combobulate and recombobulate?

Discombobulate, like disgruntled, nondescript, unkempt, and unruly, is a part of a category of words with a “lost positive” – “one of those interesting negatives without a corresponding positive word” (Garner’s 806). It is also considered an American regionalism by The Oxford English Dictionary. In addition, the word is recent, first appearing in 1916 according …

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