Nothing to Protest

The best two words any of us get to say or write each day are “Thank you.” Thank you to everyone who reads this website, even if this post is the first one by me that you have ever seen: Thank you.

Yesterday, this website was viewed for the 40,000th time in 2016. About one month ago, the number of views this website received surpassed the number of views it received in all of 2015. Just under 34,000 views in 2015, and more than 40,000 in 2016.
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The Stylish Stylist

In 1926, Henry Watson Fowler published A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, a book that has remained in print ever since. (The first edition and the second edition use Fowler’s sentences; the third edition, which was published in 1996, is a substantial rewriting of the classic and uses the Fowler name as a form of brand.) Fowler’s book is not a dictionary of definitions, like Johnson’s or Webster’s, it is a usage dictionary, an instructional manual for better using this beautiful tool we have devised called the English language.

Its entries give instructions on pronunciation, offer the pros and cons of employing a variety of idiomatic expressions, and argue again and again for simplicity in expression. Many style guides have followed—the MLA, the AP, the Chicago Manual—and each one is more useful in answering day-to-day questions about one’s writing than Fowler’s guide is, but none is as entertaining as his. His fight was a fight against cliché, obfuscation, and empty rhetoric. He fought for style, for clarity.

He fought against pointless rules. One might think from the description of his work that he is the reason for the commonplace rule against ending a sentence with a preposition. The opposite is true. In a two-page essay on the topic (two pages!), titled, “Preposition at end,” he writes:
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Look at this beautiful thing: —. It is very different from this: –. It is also quite different from this: -.

I rarely employ the services of the second dash in my above list, as I am not in the business of cutting headstones. The en dash, called that because it measures the width of the lower-case n, is seen most frequently between dates: 1968–2075. (Those dates are mine; I intend to stick around for a while longer.) In the popular bumper-sticker expression, “Life is what you do with the dash between the dates on your headstone,” the “dash” is specifically an en dash. “Life is what you do with the en dash, a punctuation mark you didn’t know the name of but see all the time,” does not make for quite as inspiring a bumper sticker.

The hyphen, the third dash in my list? Well, I am a veritable hyphen sprinkler sometimes, with my frequent yoking together of terms into my own single-use modifiers. (Like there.)

The em dash and I are (don’t tell Jen) frequent companions, however.
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No Bullies. No Drama. Only Comedies on TV

The comments territory under any YouTube video is an unlighted playground with shards of glass for sliding boards and a ball-pit full of barbed wire. There is no “thumbs-down” or dislike button available on Facebook, for obvious reasons. Comments are certainly allowed, and often the prevailing rhetorical mode is insult and injury.

Twitter may as well be one big dislike button sometimes. Not in my experience so far, except for two or three times. Each one of these is etched in my co-dependent memory, however.

When I started publishing on WordPress a year an a half ago, I wondered: What will it be like to have my work exposed to a comments section?
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