Wednesday, March 2, 2005

How to improve writing (no. 7 in a series)

From a newspaper article on "active learning":

an example of active learning may be through song or other pneumonic devices
That should be mnemonic, "assisting or intended to assist memory." Mnemosyne, Greek goddess of memory and mother of the muses, would not be pleased by this mistake. I hope she doesn't see it.

The problem for the writer is that pneumonic is indeed a word, meaning "of, relating to, or affecting the lungs; of, relating to, or affected with pneumonia." Thus it doesn't get flagged by a spellchecker.

The moral of the story: when using an unfamiliar word, don't rely on its sound or a spellchecker. Use a dictionary. It's necessary to have not only the right spelling, but the right word.

[Definitions courtesy of Merriam Webster's Collegiate, 10th ed.]

Link » Other How to improve writing posts, via del.icio.us

comments: 0