Guaranteed to improve your English

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!

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!


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

You Need New Caption Writers

Dear “Let’s Make a Deal” producers Mike Funk and Dan Richards, CBS, those whose promotional consideration were paid for by the following, and anyone else who hires the closed captioning writers:

You guys need to hire new closed caption writers. As I watched “Let’s Make a Deal,” Wayne Brady and Jonathan Mangum improvised a song to a particular music style. The contestant had five blind choices from which to choose and chose choice three. Then a second contestant had a chance to choose from the four remaining choices. Wayne said to the contestant, “You can have one, two, four or five.”

Except the caption read “… one to four, five.”

Who writes this stuff? Do I really have to explain the difference from to, two and too?

(sigh) OK. Two is a number, too means “also,” “besides” and “excessively,” and to is for just about everything else (my dictionary has 26 definitions).

By the way, I am available to write captions if you decide to take me up on it (to here being part of an infinitive, or definition 20 in my dictionary). Just contact me at my web site.

Until next time! Use the right words!

September 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The “Effect” of Misusing “Affect”

Today I was at the YMCA exercising and watching “Let’s Make a Deal” on the TV when I heard Wayne Brady say something like “I hope that doesn’t affect you.” I had on the captions, and they read “I hope that doesn’t effect you.”

Attention, company that hired that caption writer: Fire that person and hire me. I know the difference between effect and affect.

Affect means to influence: I hope this blog affects you enough that you will continue to read it (and tell your friends). Affect also is used in psychology to describe a person’s mind or feelings. In the psychological meaning, you pronounce the word AFF-ect. It’s more commonly pronounced a-FECT.

Effect can be either a noun or verb. As a noun, it means result: The effect was amazing. As a verb, it means to cause: This invention will effect change for decades to come.

Hope you visit my blog and Web site for decades to come!

Until next time! Use the right words!

October 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: