Grammar Girl: What’s your favorite word and why?
Mikita Brottman: I don’t have a single favorite. Words with an X or Q in them are always appealing. I also like words with Latin prefixes or suffixes—I like the logic of the system. And I was thinking earlier this morning about how much I like the word “creeper.”
GG: What’s a word you dislike (either because it’s overused or misused) and why?
MB: Words and phrases that annoy me at the moment are “robust,” “equity,” “utilize,” “modality,” and “functionality.” They’re clumsy, awkward, confusing attempts to express very simple concepts.
GG: What word will you always misspell?
MB: “Embarrass” is a tough one.
I like words with Latin prefixes or suffixes—I like the logic of the system.
GG: What word (or semblance of a word) would you like to see added to the dictionary? Why?
MB: A word for the letdown you feel when you taste something and it’s an artificial version of the real thing (eg. fake cream, processed cheese, instant coffee, etc).
GG: Any grammar pet peeves we should know about?
MB: It’s not a pet peeve, but it always bothers me when a writer can’t picture what they’re saying. Dangling modifiers, mixed metaphors, abstract nouns, cliches, lack of precision—these all impede clarity.
It always bothers me when a writer can’t picture what they’re saying. Dangling modifiers, mixed metaphors, abstract nouns, cliches, lack of precision—these all impede clarity.
GG: Do you have a favorite quote or passage from an author you’d like to share?
MB: “Although we read with our minds, the seat of artistic delight is between the shoulder blades. That little shiver behind is quite certainly the highest form of emotion … Let us worship the spine and its tingle.” Vladimir Nabokov.
GG: What grammar, wording, or punctuation problem did you struggle with this week?
MB: I always struggle with getting the rhythm of my sentences right. And once I’ve fixed the rhythm, how do I vary that rhythm as the paragraph unfolds?