Nerds Versus Geeks? Does the Debate Matter to Anyone Besides Us?

It occurred to me that my readers may wonder why I’m so eager to exercise my inner-nerd through my blog posts. Some readers might liken my posts to mere intellectual showboating, while others are still trying to comprehend the whole “nerd” persona I’m espousing.

And, as always, there’s the question of what differentiate a nerd from a geek, and why such a distinction even matters. Such is the topic of today’s post.

For entertainment’s sake, I’ll wax poetic about each group and the differences between them. Webster offers definitions for each term. ‘Nerd’ has two definitions, although it appears as though they’re meant to run together to form a single description.

Nerd:

1: An unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; Especially: one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits (e.g., computer nerds).

Unstylish? Usually, thanks to the nerd’s lack of interest in fashion. Unattractive? HARDLY! 😀 Socially inept? Nerds are definitely prone to social ineptitude and for multiple reasons. Most of a nerd’s time is spent inside their head, as we tend think incessantly about any and everything. This focus on the inner-self can cause nerds to be caught off guard by various social situations. If someone asks me a question while I happen to be contemplating the nature of black holes, chances are I’ll respond with a blank stare before muttering a few words and finding my escape route. Intellectuals don’t like to be caught unawares, despite being the very people to whom this happens the most often. However, we’re smart and can therefore come up with rather quick solutions to these instantaneous situations. “What did you say? I wasn’t paying attention,” is my go-to response, though it rubs some people the wrong way; so much for honesty! Another trick is to momentarily defer attention away from the impending social situation and toward anything that can buy a few extra seconds of time. “Look! A rainbow? What? We’re inside? It must be my glasses.” This extra time is gold and should be used to either devise an escape plan or come up with a few witty remarks so that you actually contribute to the conversation, per social norms.

The one word that my attention keeps coming back to is ‘slavishly.’ The word’s definition is pretty much what you’d guess it to be: resembling a slave. I don’t think nerds are slaves to their intellectual pursuits, but instead choose these pursuits because they enjoy them. Maybe I’ll write to Merriam Webster and let them know that nerds need to be liberated, at least according to their dictionary.

So, what about geeks? This time, Merriam Webster isn’t so kind with their definitions.

Geek:

1: a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake

2: a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked

3: an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity <computer geek>

I wonder if the dictionary’s writers were equally confused over the nerd vs. geek debate, as each definition includes the example, “computer X.” As for the first definition, that’s completely new to me and I’m glad it’s not listed under ‘nerd,’ lest I begin biting off chicken heads.

By comparing the relevant parts of these definitions, we can get down to the nitty-gritty.

NERD: one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.

GEEK: an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity.

Overall, the general consensus (according to Merriam Webster and my experience IRL) is that nerds are interested in academic and brainy subjects in general, while geeks are interested in learning everything there is to know regarding a certain field… or television show, like Star Trek? (I guess this makes me a Battlestar Galatica geek!) Nerds have a broader range of intellectual interests, while geeks tend to focus on a few things at which they’re very skilled.

Now that we’ve broken down the conventional definitions for the terms, is there any significant difference between nerds and geeks? Some people might claim that any “difference” is really just a matter of semantics, concluding that the entire debate is meaningless (I tend to agree…) However, should you ask a group of geeks or nerds this question, you’re sure to induce some warped West Side Story dance routine between these rival gangs.

Yes, I said rival gangs. One can always pretend to be a hardcore, finger-snapping, foot-kicking broadway star in the privacy of their own home. Hell, I know I do.

I can speak for nerds when I say that most (well, at least those who have escaped high school) are proud to be called nerds. I don’t know how geeks feel about the term; they’re probably just as proud of it as nerds are of their label.

And that, dear readers, is the most important and likely the only significant difference between the two groups. Nerds will argue over what constitutes a “nerd,” geeks will argue about what defines a “geek,” and noone else will ever give a damn.

Let me end by addressing my feelings about this debate with an illustration, courtesy of XKCD.com. This manages to effectively capture my overall opinion on the issue AND it has a Venn diagram, to boot! (That’s the logician in me talking, btw.)

This pretty much sums up the debate.
From XKCD! The alt-text from the site: "The definitions I grew up with were that a geek is someone unusually into something (so you could have computer geeks, baseball geeks, theater geeks, etc) and nerds are (often awkward) science, math, or computer geeks. But definitions vary."
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For Female Nerds: On Having Nerdy Guy Friends

(Note to readers: This is a revision of an earlier post. It’s been edited for both content purposes, hence my reposting, and because of some atrocious grammar guffaws. I changed the title as well, since I’m planning on doing a series of blog posts specifically for female nerds; you can consider this the first.)

Male nerds are a common breed. It’s not strange to hear of a guy fascinating with video games, comic books, anime, science and learning in general.

What about the less common, albeit frequently hunted female nerd?

We exist. And we share the same interests as male nerds. We don’t have many female friends, unless we’re lucky enough to make contact with another of our breed. Other women can easily spot us in crowds because we’re the girls without heels, designer purses or lipstick stuck up our rears.

At parties, we’re the girls in the corner surrounded by a group of guys. We aren’t hussies; we just happen to get along better with your man than you do because we have more in common with them. Give me a male nerd and we can talk about anything from astrophysics to finding the second hidden warp-whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3.

Unfortunately, this scenario eventually attracts the attention of the women we typically avoid… and we feel their ice-cold stares penetrating our bodies, from our Converse all the way up to our glasses.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about every single girl who isn’t a nerd. There are plenty of women whom I respect because, while we may not have much in common, they don’t expect me to climb on top of a high-horse just to make eye contact with them. I could name a handful or two of women I know who aren’t going to judge me based on my purple kicks and aversion to dresses.

The hardest part of a male/female-nerd alliance is when the male-nerds start dating nonnerd-girls. It’s these kind of situations that suck. As far as making friends go, I’m already at a disadvantage as I don’t have very much in common with most girls.

So, what is a nerd-girl supposed to do when one of her male-nerd friends get a new nonnerdy girlfriend or, even worse, gets married to one? Brainwashed, leash-bound and completely whipped, most male-nerds eventually push us away, per nonnerd-girl’s request.

So, Ladies, listen up:

We’re not trying to steal your boyfriend/husband. I like male-nerds because we can talk without broaching those mysterious subjects “you ladies” discuss that make both men — and myself — tune you out. I won’t fall victim to your infamous girl-talk about manicures and shoes, which women like myself can’t process because we’re too busy thinking about things that matter.

Don’t deny your male-nerd the friendship of nerd-girls! We can satisfy their intellectual needs, leaving you free to never crack-open a book or hold a controller!

If my boyfriend became close to a girl who shared all of his same interests, I’d definitely be jealous. I’m lucky that I only date guys who are smart, play video games, watch anime and who are all-around the right amount of nerdy; those are the only kinds of guys that I’m interested in. Did I mention that they had to be cute? Yeah, cute male-nerds are rare but are out there. They’re kind of guys like my boyfriend, who bought me this bouquet of 8-bit flowers, since he knows I don’t like real flowers. Real flowers just wilt and die after a few days, making them not only a waste but a hassle!

There’s one last point I’d like to make. I have very few female friends and that is upsetting at times. There aren’t many of us nerd-girls in the world, so finding someone with whom I have things in common proves difficult. I guess I’m stuck hanging out with nerdy-guys; it could be worse.

– KillaJulz

 

As a bonus, here’s a somewhat on-topic article I found on Kotaku.com: “When a Normal Lady Chases After Nerds.”

It’s bound to happen sooner or later…

I’m currently suffering through a rather dreadful episode of writer’s block. Since I’m unable to write anything without erasing it from the page moments later, I decided that I would try working it out by writing about it. Makes sense, no? So, I’m going to blog about the process involved and whatever progress I make while attempting to conquer Mt. Staring-At-A-Blank-Screen.

What have I done to challenge this writer’s block? The first thing I did was to Google the phrase, of course. One of the suggestions that popped-up was to grab the nearest book and write the first sentence of whatever paragraph on whatever page… you get the idea. The actual suggestion was that I “select a random book and open it to page 96” and then “use the first line of the second paragraph as the first line of a piece of micro-fiction.” I think I’ll start small by just writing down the quote.

Nope, the quote on that page won’t work; it doesn’t make sense out of context. Given the book I selected, I can probably find a good quote on writing…

Aha. I’ve found a paragraph that is all too apropos:

“You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked others before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts. Now (since you have allowed me to advise you) I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you to write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all—ask yourself in the stillest house of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple, “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of the urge and a testimony to it.” – “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke.

"Letters to a Young Poet"

Must I write? Yes. Why? I’ll have to save that for another post, as I imagine the reply will be rather long and border on the poetic.

Must I write tonight? No. Will I write tonight? I’ll probably be able to get some writing done, though I still feel mentally sluggish.

Did blogging help me at all? I’m not completely sure yet, but I’ll report back tomorrow.

Domo arigato Mr. PR2 roboto?

Before I start discussing my topic in-depth, I first would like to address a few things:

First, I have never doubted the fact that one day during my lifetime, the age of robots will come.

Q: Do I think that this could prove to be potentially awesome, given that the robots follow Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics?”

A: Probably, though I revisit the theory numerous times in my head, as I’m sure there’s a loophole somewhere. I just feel it. Those suckers are just waiting to take over.

Q. Would I be apprehensive if robots became more commonplace?

A. Oh, hell yeah.

Q. Would I care if robots took over the world as long as I got to keep my own super fancy butler robot?

A. What? Did someone mention there might be a problem?? Huh? I need a soda, where’s Armando?

While 2011 saw a number of advancements in the field of robotics, by far the most popular robot out of the bunch is the PR2, created by the team at Willow Garage.

One of the many things for which the PR2 is famous involves one of its most recent upgrades. The PR2 is now capable of understanding the command, “Buy me a sandwich,” along with understanding every single possibilities that such a request can imply. The robot first processes the request by using what is called a semantic search. With this kind of search, the robot uses its on-board searchable database to evaluate and eventually come to a complete understanding of the questioner’s intent, along with the contextual meaning of the request. This enables the PR2 to fully understand the request enough (and when I say fully, I can’t even begin to imagine the number of scenarios the robot has stored in its data center) that it will buy a sandwich when asked. You want to know what’s even cooler? When the PR2 was asked to buy a sandwich, but was unable to locate any in its surrounding area, the PR2 strolled on down to Subway and asked the “sandwich artist” there for a sandwich. Not only is this robot smart and able to take care of itself, but it makes healthy food choices as well.

What I’m the curious to know is just what in the world that sandwich guy was thinking the moment the PR2 robot walked into the food establishment, as robots don’t even need to eat!!?! What would you think if a robot just up and waltzed into the door to your shop and asked for, let’s say… a rubix cube? (You don’t think it would ask for one? Think again.) And NO saying that because the sandwich artist is Japanese, he’s used to robots walking about; that’s just not right. Shame on you.

I wonder what the PR2 used as payment?

Here’s a video of the PR2 on his sandwich quest:

I find the fact that the PR2 was capable of sandwich-shopping to be commendable feat on behalf of the guys at Willow Garage robots research laboratory. Hopefully those guys give poor PR2 a break, instead of always sending him out to grab a pizza and beer.

You know what’s also super-neat about the PR2 robot? Aside from taxes and shipping fees, you can have one of your very own for only $400,000! Rest assured that they’ll explain every single thing you’ll be getting with the purchase of your “robot system.” I love how they intersperse extremely technical components with stuff like “Wi-Fi.” In case you’re interested in everything you’ll get with the purchase of the PR2 robot, check out this link.

If you’re interested in the other activities its capable of performing, you should know that the PR2 not only plays pool and folds towels, but will also grab you a beer upon request, though I’m not sure if they know the difference between international and domestic; we can always hope.

All of these fancy functions are cool to see, but focusing on these novelties detracts attention away from the things that truly make the PR2 great.

The PR2 is known as a “robot for research and innovation,” a description that I’ll attempt to elaborate upon. Its ROS (robot operating system for all you slow-pokes out there) is completely open source, meaning that anyone can access and use it for making changes to the system or creating their own programs for personal or commercial use. While this makes it sound like Willow Garage is being ripped off, they are instead offering an innovative and awesome opportunity for developers across the world. The PR2 is meant, above all, to serve as a research and development platform. As research facilities and academic institutions across the world already have PR2 robots, the goal that’s being worked toward now involves a combination of efforts from across the world in order to advance the open source community, while making more frequent and faster advancements in the robotics industry.

Do you guys understand exactly how cool this is? One team developed a robot, while a group of scientists across the world can take same robot and program it to perform new tasks. The President and CEO of Willow Garage stated that “the introduction of PR2 SE will only help to grow an already passionate community of researchers, engineers and robotocists.” I can see it happening, and encourage this type of scientific progress completely. Also of note: I’m not sure what is meant by the “SE” in the above quote, so I’m just going to assume that it means “standard edition,” and that they plan on coming out with a collector’s edition later in the year.

Should you be interested in learning more about the PR2 robots, you can check out YouTube for additional videos from by Willow Grove, along with visiting their site.

Does Working as a Content Monkey Stifle Your Creativity?

For starters, some of you may be wondering what constitutes a “content monkey.” Its meaning is similar to that of a “code monkey,” if you are familiar with that term. As a freelance writer, the only way to make decent money is by churning out article after article. In this world, your words are used for content that your client posts somewhere on the web – or, if you’re lucky, a newspaper or magazine. Our job is to research and write about whatever topic your client has in mind; there is little to no creative process involved. If your days and nights of freelance writing consist of following a client’s instructions while composing text after text… you have probably morphed into a content monkey. I doubt that anyone who has ever wanted to become a writer aspires to write for others as their lifelong career; yet, this is how many of us get our start and pay our dues. The question now becomes can we, as writers, be satisfied by only writing for others?

content (?) monkey

The most important aspect to the writing process is creativity. How else can you come up with clever topics, witty yet poignant sentences and ultimately a piece of literature that captures the attention of others? However, just like a muscle needs to be worked out to stay in shape, so does the creative process of an author. One must practice. One must write ideas down on paper, only to crumple them up and start over. One must come up with new and innovative material. But, if all we do is write for others, how are we supposed to exercise our creativity? While one might assume that any kind of writing helps you to improve, I have to wonder if being a content monkey doesn’t interfere with our creative processes.

Unlike writing professional articles, which adhere to strict grammatical and style guidelines, writing creatively gives you the opportunity to throw out everything you ever learned and write how you want. Creative writers have to learn to dismiss these rules, writing from their heart instead of their heads — or, if you’d prefer, writing from their right brain as opposed to their left. Unfortunately, after sticking to a set of rules for so long, it’s hard to escape them. Even while I’m trying to do some creative writing, the rules are right there, appealing to the logic center of my brain and putting a halt in my creative process.

I’m not dismissing the perks of being a freelance writer. I think that every writer should strive to become a “renaissance” writer who is capable of producing any type of text required: news articles, short stories, instruction manuals, poetry, romantic copy, advertisements, website content or a novel, for example.

So, how does a writer stop from being cornered by writing manuals and grammar books? I don’t have a solid answer to that question; part of the reason I decided to write on this topic was to explore the idea more, while hoping for some thoughtful feedback from other writers. For me, I try to stay in touch with my creative side by writing blogs – although I still feel pressure to write professionally – and by coming up with ideas for stories. Don’t let this post mislead you; despite my concerns, I still love being a freelance writer. I wouldn’t change a thing… well, except maybe the pay, but that will increase with time (one can hope!)

In my next post, I am planning to talk about the life of the freelance writer in more detail, including ways to start your own freelance writing career and useful tools of the trade. 

Until then…

jt

Introduction on How to Improve your Writing Swagger.

(What? Two posts in twelve hours; she must be a workhorse. Nope, I’m just procrastinating.)

Some of my posts will deal with style, which in my opinion is just as important as grammar. You can know all the words and grammatical rules in the world, but without your own, unique voice, you’ll never become a great, unique and creative writer. Find your style and that’s where you’ll find your voice. It may not always be easy to hear, but it’s there, waiting to be let out into the world. All you can do is nurture it with practice and a little homework.

I like to think of developing your own style of writing as akin to showing off your swagger. Having swagger means that, not only are you confident, but you like showing it. So, why not throw some swagger into your writing? Confidence and a bit of a cocky attitude can actually help you to write more quickly, given that you are willing to go back and make revisions.

Today, and on any day I’m discussing style, I’ll be using the book, “Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve Your Writing,” by Theodore A. Rees Cheney. The table of contents for this book is almost a checklist in and of itself; just check out these two pictures from the table of contents:

Introduction; Section One: REDUCE; Section Two: REARRANGE
Introduction; Section One: REDUCE; Section Two: REARRANGE
I got nothing for ya.
Section 2: REARRANGE continued; Section 3: REWORD.

I also just discovered, while finding a link for the book, that it is now one of Kindle’s FREE books. So, go download it! 😀 I downloaded it to my tablet, so I can read it anywhere. If technology these days isn’t awesome, then I don’t know what is. Ninja kittens?

For now, I’m going to talk briefly about Cheney’s introduction. Note that I use several quotes in this post, all from Cheney; I usually dislike direct quotes, but his writing must speak for itself, as you will hear it rather clearly and loud.

In his introduction, he shares with the reader the inspiration behind the book’s title,  quoting Hemingway from an interview with the Paris Review:

Paris Review: “How much rewriting do you do?”

Hemingway: “It depends. I rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times.”

Paris Review: “Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?”

Hemingway: “Getting the words right.”

I love that quote because it resonates very deeply with my inner-writer. I don’t know how many times I’ve rewritten a sentence because it just didn’t feel right; the words weren’t working the way I wanted them to work. And, what’s the point in writing if you can’t manipulate the words to clearly, creatively and uniquely form your story.

The author also discusses several other topics in his introduction. He provides a very lengthy definition of the word “revision,” stressing the point that proofreading isn’t simply looking for mistakes, but instead it involves reworking your earlier work. For Cheney, “revision expresses succinctly most of the activities involved in getting the damned words right: writing, rewriting, rereading, reviewing, rethinking, rearranging, repairing, restructuring, re-evaluating, editing, tightening, sharpening, smoothing, pruning, polishing, punching up, amending, emending, altering, eliminating, transposing, expanding, condensing, connecting, cohering, unifying, perfecting, transitioning…” In his view, every writer should follow the above process when writing. In the real world, I realize that this isn’t always possible, as some writing assignments have deadlines that are too soon for you to spend the time reworking your article. However, I strongly agree with his point-of-view. Revision is an important process, and trying to do it while writing will only slow your work down. In order to succeed as a writer, proofreading and revision can’t be viewed as “uncreative drudgery;” one has to enjoy the revision process as much as they enjoy writing. In Cheney’s eyes, revision and writing are both identical and inseparable. ((BTW: I provided a link for the word “emending,” as I was unaware of the definition. Think of it as another word of the day.))

A great point to keep in mind when writing is a rule followed by professional authors: the best way to write is to “write in haste; revise in leisure.” In other words, just sit down and start putting down words. Don’t go back to what you’ve previously written, since that can halt and infect your creative flow. Just write and write, and worry about revisions later; this way, your inner thoughts are able to flow from your brain to your fingertips, at a pace that can build up your “creative momentum.” Once you’ve got a momentum going. and the words are flowing, try not to stop writing unless you must. Or, unless it’s time for a break, as those are important as well.

Cheney’s book is built on the premise that one should always revise. He recommends doing it at the end of each chapter or get a start the next morning by reading and revising your work from the previous day. There is no doubt that a fresh set of eyes makes proofreading much easier. Take a step back and give your article/blog/etc time to be “forgotten;” this way, when you’re making revisions, it’s almost as it you’re reading another person’s work. Once your writing has become fresh(er) to you, chances are that you’ll “find at least something you can revise to make your piece more accurate, more concise, more helpful, more euphonious, more humorous, more serious, more in keeping with the times, more appropriate, more dramatic, more heart stopping, more memorable, more — or somehow better — than the words that had originally arrived… this book, then, deals with finding the more and the better.” Revising after the writing part of the task is over frees up the energy that was being used by your creative mind. Now that the work is written, you can go back and insert the proper punctuation, making your words and ideas as clear and accurate as possible. Cheney adds that the words should be “attractive,” too. I didn’t know that words had fashion sense, let alone poor fashion sense! 🙂

He also stresses the importance of keeping the reader in mind at all times; this may seem obvious, but it’s actually quite easy to forget once you’re elbow deep in words. By keeping your reader in mind, you can act as if you are writing directly for him/her. Be as clear as possible, lest your words get lost in the “abyss” in the gap between the author’s mind and the mind of your reader. Find some way to jump across that abyss to get to the side, joining the reader and evaluating their point-of-view. Once you’re on the reader’s side, there’s no reason you shouldn’t able to clearly and precisely convey your meaning. Take as objective of a stance as possible when revisiting your work; an editor isn’t going to be biased, so you sure hell as shouldn’t be!

I found that using a text-to-speech program works great as a revision tool. Hearing your paper read aloud (by another person besides yourself) makes any errors glaringly apparent, whether they involve homonyms or phrasing problems. Depending on the version, MS Word sometimes has an add-on for using text-to-speech. If you’d rather not deal with Microsoft, there is a free program called Free NaturalReader 9 that I can vouch for. I use this program and not only is it easy, but it will read any text you ask it to, not just text from MS Word. I included a link to CNET’s site in case anyone wants to download it — I recommend at least trying it out.

I suppose I should wrap this post up for now. It didn’t go quite the direction I had planned, but that’s alright; I just hope some of the information was useful. Next time I discuss style, I’ll be listing and thoroughly describing Cheney’s different methods for revision. Once I’m done with the book, it will be a breeze to type up a “proofreading checklist.” For tomorrow, I’ll be writing a post for my friend Danielle, the author of the blog “American Wordsmith” (along with several others). She’s brilliant and an outstanding writer. The post will address the pros and cons of various content mill sites,  e.g. Textbroker, Merchant Circle or WISEgeek, including the application process, how often they pay, etc. I may have mentioned that in my previous post; if so, my bad.

I’ve got several big projects that are due tonight, so now that I’ve warmed up my writing muscle, it’s time to get to work! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

❤ jt

I heart vocabulary.

I’m posting this from my new tablet, and its is actually quicker to use than a keyboard.

On Thursday, I plan on writing a post about freelance writing. I’m planning to include information about various content mill sites, the work invoked, the application processes and how often they payout. So, look forward to that? 🙂

Sadly all you get to read today is a rant on how I love words and a few vocabulary words.

Vocabulary! It rocks, in my opinion. Perhaps I’m biased because I’m a nerd, but I find words fascinating. They gives us the ability to externalize our internal thoughts; how is that not fascinating? To me, words are like colors. You can buy the 12 or 24 pack if you like to keep your life simple; however, you are going to have a difficult time expressing yourself precisely. If it were me, I’d buy the largest package of crayons they sold. Why limit your ability to express yourself with a weak vocabulary? The more words you know, the more likely you are to have people understand you. This just came to me, “Vocabulary is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” Oh, random Forrest Gump reference, but a great movie.

AND NOW, time for the words of the day:

Junket  \JUHNG-kit\

noun

1. A trip, usually by an official or legislative comittee, paid out of public funds to ostensibly obtain information.

2. A sweet, custard-like food of flavored milk curdled with rennet.

3. A pleasure excursion, as a picnic or outing.

verb

1. To go on a junket {no way, gtfo!}

2. To entertain; feast; regale.

Examples: “This afternoon, we went on a junket to the park.” “Since he loves sweet things, one of his favorite deserts is junket”

Voluble  \väl-yů-bəl\

adjective

1. Speaking readily and rapidly; talkative.

2. Easily rolling or turning.

Example: “She was a voluble informer due to her strong memory.”

Eponymous  \i-pänə-məs\ — adjective — Of, relating to, or being the person for whom something is named.

Example: “Adjectives such as Elizabethan, Victorian and Edwardian show how the names of certain British monarchs have become eponymous for particular time periods and styles.”

❤ jt

[EDIT: I was sick when I posted this, so I just found my spelling and grammatical errors. Yes, I was lazy when I first posted it and didn’t proofread.]

Be canny, instead of turbid, when using semicolons. And, the word “amortize.”

I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to include the word “amortize” more effectively in my title. 🙂

For my first post, I’m going to stick to a few general grammar tips, along with posting several vocabulary words. My goal, which I’d like to share with you as well, is to learn something new, relating to writing, everyday. Vocabulary words will not only increase my repertoire of words, but yours as well!

Vocabulary words of the day

[Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day:]

Canny  [KAN-ee] — adjective— (1) Careful, cautious and prudent; (2)Astute, shrewd, knowing, sagacious, skilled, expert; (3) Quiet and snug.

Example: “A canny card player, good at psyching out his opponents,” or “Warm and canny under the woolen bed covers, we didn’t mind the chilly Scottish nights.”

[From Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder:]

Turbid [tər-bid] — (1) Thick or murky, especially with churned-up sediment; (2) Unclear, confused, muddled.

Example: “The mood of the crows was restless and turbid, and any spark could have turned then into a mob.”

Amortize  [a-mər-tīz] — To pay off something, such as a mortgage, by making small payments over a period of time; it is most commonly used as a legal term.

Example: “For tax purposes, they chose to amortize most of the business’s start-up costs over a three-year period.”

Some Grammar Tips: The Semicolon

My 11th grade Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History teacher said something in class one period that has remained with me to this day. She was discussing the horrible work that some students had turned in and decided it was time to offer some grammatical advice. It was on that day that I learned how to properly use a semicolon. Shocking, I know, seeing as how I managed to pass grade school and two years of honors high school English without ever being informed about the beautiful, fluid and useful nature of the semicolon. She taught us the basic use of a semicolon… wait, no she didn’t. All she told us what that we should put semicolons before “however” or “but,” and that was about it. She was also a big fan of Tab soda. The things that stick with you after almost 15 years.

I digress…

Rules concerning the correct usage of grammar have changed since my days in high school. Hell, the world has done a complete 180° when it comes to communication and language, it seems. But, back to grammar: very few rules are set in stone these days, as we have let American language merge with popular culture to create an ever-changing vernacular. I consider myself a prescriptivist when it comes to language, so it makes me sad that the “pop culture” phenomenon has not only invaded our lives, but also our language. I could think of examples, but I think it’d be better if you did for yourself; then, you’ll be able to reflect upon how different groups and cultures within American have affected the English language.

Enough talking about language; now let us learn the proper way to use it. Semicolons separate two clauses that could normally stand on their own. As my beloved Grammar Girl refers to semicolons, this half-colon/half-comma symbol is used as a sentence-splicer; i.e., semicolons splice nasty sentences and turn them into pretty ones.

(A bad) example: “It was quite cold this morning, I wore my scarf to get warm.”

Why is this sentence in poor form? Upon further scrutiny, you can see that it contains two complete sentences on each side of the comma. A way of writing the sentence that utilizes the semicolon is to say, “It was quite cold this morning; I wore my scarf to get warm.”

If you have too many short sentences in a row, then you could benefit from changing things up a bit, such as by connecting the two shorter sentences by a semicolon. Semicolons can be effective tools: using a semicolon to join two sentences draws the reader’s attention to the relationship between the clauses.

However, the most important thing to remember when using a semicolon  is to make sure that the main clauses you are joining together are closely related to one another. Surely, you would never be caught saying, “The milk in the fridge is bad; I need to vacuüm the living room” and expect not to get strange looks. While each sentence can stand on its own, joining them with a semicolon only leads to confusion for the reason that the two sentences are not related. You have to take an axe to bad sentences such as these joined by deceitful commas.

You may ask yourself, why not just use a period? A period would have sufficed in place of the semicolon, but wouldn’t you rather mix things up a bit? Nothing conveys that you are a good writer like the ability to successfully sprinkle uncommon punctuation throughout your paper, including semi-colons, colons and “em” dashes – each of which will be addressed in upcoming posts.

Atypical punctuation not only adds variety to your sentence structure, but it makes you sound smart, too. 🙂 And, to some women, having large vocabulary is a sexy.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow I’ll try to post from the book, “Getting the Words Right.” It’s more of style guide and is a great read!

Thanks for reading my first real post on my new blog. FEEDBACK is welcome aka I never get blog comments. haha.

❤ jt

PS. If you have any grammar questions that you would like answered, leave your question in one of the comment forms and I’ll be more than happy to solve them!!! I thrive off of challenge!

Writing Nerdy: My new blog

I wanted to start a blog that offers grammar information, style advice and interesting vocabulary words… so, here it is! *imagine you are at a grand unveiling and they just dropped the fancy velvet curtain they use to disguise the surprise.

As far as posting goes: Ideally, I would post every day; realistically, it will probably only be a few times a week.

I hope everyone gets the joke in my site name. It’s somewhat derivative, so I’ll explain in case you have no idea to what I am referring. There’s a song by a rap artist known as Chamillionaire — I have no idea how they come up with these names — called “Ridin’ Dirty.” Weird Al, as he does best, did a parody of the song and named it “White and Nerdy.”

For those of you uneducated on the Weird Al version:

“Do vector calculus just for fun, I ain’t got a gat but I gotta soldering gun.” Ha, I love it.

As you can deduce, I picked my name because it sounds like “Ridin’  Nerdy.” Oh, I’m sure I’ve made it too convoluted to be funny; that’s alright. It’s a good descriptor: After all, I am writing whilst being a nerdy Caucasian. 😀

Comments are welcome, and encouraged, since I would like to encourage discussions about language. It’s a very interesting topic, even more so when you’re paycheck relies on your handle of it.

Welcome, everyone!

-jt ❤