usingtherightwords

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Sorry, Ryan; Stick to Improv


I love improv comedy. I love “Whose Line is it Anyway?” It’s a show that became part of the courting of the woman who became my wife (she liked it, too). We’ve seen it taped twice — each time two and a half hours of laughing our asses off (figuratively speaking, of course), and I even got one of my suggestions put into the show (see Season 4: “George Washington and the Ventriloquist:” that’s me suggesting George Washington).

I can’t put into words how happy and grateful I am that, after ABC cancelled the show, the CW brought it back — and brought back Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie and Wayne Brady (I would have liked Drew Carey back, but Aisha Tyler is fine). But I get tired to seeing the same games played repeatedly, one of which is “Weird Newscasters,” in which one performer is “normal” and the other three performers act out strange behaviors as co-anchor, sportscaster and weather forecaster.

I also get tired of seeing the same performers playing the same roles, but in a recent episode, Stiles announced that the word “news” comes from “north, east, west and south.”

Of course, upon hearing that, I immediately stopped the episode and looked it up.

News is not an acronym. According to my dictionary, it traces back to the 15th century. The online etymology dictionary says it’s from the 14th century plural of new, meaning “new things.” Wikipedia says it developed in the 14th century as a special use of the plural form of new. In Middle English, the equivalent word was newes, like the French nouvelles and the German neues. Similar developments are found in the Slavic languages—the Czech and Slovak noviny (from nový, “new”), the cognate Polish nowiny and Russian novosti—and in the Celtic languages: the Welsh newyddion (from newydd) and the Cornish nowodhow (from nowydh).

So, here’s the news flash: Ryan was wrong.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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August 26, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Whose” Line Is It Anyway? “Who’s” Asking?


Too often, we fail to see the exception for the rule (as opposed to the forest for the trees). Today’s example: who’s/whose.

As we know, very often in English a word with an apostrophe-s  after it denotes possessive: Obama’s cabinet, a worker’s pay, a cynic’s lack of belief, etc. A notable exception is it’s, which is a contraction of it is. The possessive form is its — no apostrophe.

It’s the same with who’s: it means who is. The possessive is whose.

Fortunately, a British improvisation show that Drew Carey later brought to American audiences helped everyone understand the difference and made a star out of Wayne Brady.

Having seen the show taped twice (including this one) and having seen Ryan Stiles perform improv live while the show was just in Britain, I’m partial to him.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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