Codes and ciphers

Many would consider that "code" and "cipher/cypher"  mean the same. The Oxford English Dictionary describes them as: code (noun): “a system of words, letters, figures or symbols used to represent others, especially for the purposes of secrecy”. cipher (variant cypher) (noun): “a secret or disguised way of writing: a code; … something written in code; …

New words added to Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary is constantly adding new words, often reflecting new cultural phenomena, and some additions may be surprising. These are a few that were added in spring 2019. Many are all too familiar. Adorbs Cute or adorable; inducing great delight. Bestie A person’s best friend. Binge-watch To watch multiple episodes of a TV …

Tips for writing fiction from a master thriller writer

In his 2017 book Camino Island by John Grisham – an undisputed master of crime and legal thrillers – the bookshop-owner Bruce Cable gave the following tips for writing fiction. The character said that he had read over 4000 books and here are Bruce’s pearls of wisdom for successful writing. Tip 1: Avoid prologues where …

Analogies, metaphors, and similes – what are they?

Although there are similarities in their purpose, there are distinct differences between analogies, metaphors, and similes. Analogies An analogy is a literary device by which a writer likens two objects that are dissimilar but yet share common, often concealed features. Some analogies can be excessively extended by an overenthusiastic writer to make what they think …

How to choose a proofreader

You have just completed writing your document. It could be an essay, book, journal article, or business report. You have checked through it so many times, completely revised it once or twice, but you are still not confident that you have found all the errors and inconsistencies that may be present. Perhaps English is not …

What proofreaders do not routinely do

In an earlier blog I discussed what proofreaders would normally do as part of their duties. There I touched on aspects of writing and publication that proofreaders would not normally be involved in: copy-editing, copyright and permissions, indexing, literary appraisal, page design and layout, and rewriting. Many professional proofreaders have the skills to perform some …

Tips for writers: Knowing when to use colons

There are many who consider the colon and semi-colon to be identical punctuation stop marks and use both without discrimination, while others have a strong preference for one mark and have little use for the other. Here I am going to concentrate solely on the use of colons. The colon is described in the New …

Polari – still a secret language?

I first became aware of Polari from the 1960s BBC radio show Round the Horne starring Kenneth Horne. Camp Polari-speaking characters Julian (Jules) and Sandy were played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams and popularized the use of Polari. It has fascinated me since then. What is Polari? Polari (or alternatively Parlare, Parlary, Palare, Palarie, …