October 2010  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

eTips Follow-up

We hope you enjoyed the October 1st eTips note about the names of calendar months. Here's a follow-up fact that we were happy to learn from Ted Snyder, an entomologist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

I appreciate the foray into ancient Rome in your latest newsletter.

One of the facts is wrong, however.

Julius Caesar and Augustus did not cram new months into the year, but rather eponymously renamed two existing months.

The cramming of additional months into the calendar can be blamed on Numa Pompilius, one of the kings of Rome, which, if you are one of those unusual types who knows Roman history, would tell you that it predates the dynasty of the Caesars by many years.

"The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first."

—Blaise Pascal

Word "Pair" of the Month: flier, flyer

This month's word pair was suggested by eTips reader Carol Adams, who writes:

Love your short-and-sweet, information-packed monthly eTips!  As a bookworm, editor, proofreader, writer, and creator of a variety of printed materials for more than 30 years, I am very conscious of "misappropriated" words.  None of my reference books include the proper use of flier vs flyer. The local public library information and reference personnel can't help me with this one. When I type the exact same sentence twice in a Microsoft Word document, using flier in one and flyer in the other one, Word doesn't highlight either spelling as being inaccurate. What's the verdict from the wise old owls at eTips?  Are flier and flyer interchangeable?

Well, Carol, we pulled out all the big guns (and bigger dictionaries), consulting the American Heritage Dictionary, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, The World English Dictionary, and even Dictionary.com (unabridged), and all sources agreed:

Either spelling is correct, and either refers to a person or thing that flies, as well as to those colorful papers handed out on street corners. However, careful checking of both listings reveals that flyer is a variant of flier. In other words, flier with an i is the preferred version in the U.S. (In the U.K., flier more typically refers to something that flies and flyer to a pamphlet or circular.)

Whichever spelling you choose, use it consistently throughout a document. As Carol notes, differences in spellings will not trigger spell-checkers. Sometimes there’s no electronic substitute for good old-fashioned diligence—a lesson for us all.

How good is your eye?

Our October 1st eTips contained one spelling error. We're offering a complete set of Job Aides to the first three people to send us an e-mail identifying the misspelling. You can find the issue archived at www.upwritepress.com/etips.

October Writer's Forum Question

This month one of our readers wrote to us asking for help dealing with a troublesome coworker—someone who frequently invades others’ space, talks loudly, and listens in on other people’s conversations, in general making coworkers feel uncomfortable. Those coworkers have taken the matter to their supervisors, but no action has been taken. The reader wonders how to deal with these intrusions. Have you had a similar experience? Can you offer any suggestions for bringing harmony back to this office?

n account representative in Atlanta offered this advice to our harried reader:

We had someone like that in our office, and she made it a chore to come in every morning! Finally, we persuaded our supervisor (who didn’t want to deal with it) to get doors for our cubicles, and we learned to close them. If the offensive one asked to come in, we simply said no (nicely), that we were busy. When she was loud in her own cubicle, one of us would go shut her door. She never did get the idea (some people never do), but at least it kept her physically away and out of our business.

An attorney in New York handled his errant coworker this way:

We had a guy who’d hang out in anyone’s office but his own, chewing the fat, being intrusive. You hate to be rude, but in our business, time is the client’s money, and we simply had to be direct, saying, “I’m billing and can’t talk now.” He’d wander away and find someone else to bug, but his own deficit in billable hours stacked up, and he was eventually let go. In today’s economy, slackers don’t have a prayer, and I guess it just depends on whether you have the patience to let nature take its course.

A line supervisor in Newark feels our reader’s pain:

I can handle the workers beneath me, but we’ve got a guy at my same level who is really a pain. Because we are equal in rank, I can’t discipline him, and my supervisors keep telling me to handle it myself. I try to avoid him, but we have a common work space, so he has lots of chances to get on my nerves. Frankly, I think I’m going to just send him this newsletter and hope he takes the hint. If he doesn’t, I will probably have to get rude and ask him to just be quiet.

An administrative assistant in Spokane seems to have had the same idea:

I would just send the person this newsletter, maybe adding a note saying something like “I hope you understand that this is for your own good.” Or print it out and underline in red everything that pertains to this person. It’s hard not to fight rudeness with more rudeness!

A Final Thought

How green is your office? Are you and your coworkers doing all you can to help reduce pollution and greenhouse gases? A few simple changes can help. For example, shut off lights when you’re not using a room. Buy recycled office supplies, from paper to copiers. Recycle everything you can—batteries should never be dumped, and even shredded paper can be recycled, with no worries about sharing secrets. Keep recycling bins in lunch and break areas, and encourage telecommuting whenever possible. Every bit helps.

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Entries so far for October:

Staff Articles

Using the Right Word

Avoiding Sentence Errors


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