Word Nerd Wednesday

by Kristi R. Johnson

https://frinkiac.com/meme/S02E03/1277028.jpg?b64lines=SGFwcHkgSGFsbG93ZWVuIQ==Image from The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror I

Since Halloween is less than a week away, I thought I would discuss something a little more seasonally appropriate than a simple (or often not so simple) grammar, word choice, or writing issue.

Today I am going to discuss something that many people know about, but I know there are a fair amount of readers out there who aren’t quite sure what the difference is between wearing a costume, and cosplay.

Historically, a costume is actually a specific style of dress that reflects a person or group’s class, gender, ethnicity, profession, etc.

But for purposes that pertain to Halloween, a costume is that outfit you wear when you want to look like The Joker for a day. It’s what many of you wore as a kid when it was time to go door to door asking neighborhood families for candy. Some are scary, but a lot of them are not, especially for the younger set. My all-time favorite is still a toddler who could barely walk dressed up as Winnie the Pooh. Or a pug dog dressed up as Darth Vader. Both of them were pretty adorable.

Cosplay, on the other hand, is a contraction of the words “costume” and “play,” and is more like a performance art. What cosplayers wear is usually handmade and represents a specific character. These characters are often from anime, manga, books, movies, television, video games, you name it. If there is a character with an even slightly distinctive look or dress code, someone can cosplay it.

Also, ‘cosplay’ is most often used as a verb. While ‘costume’ is noun.

heimdallIt’s one thing if I buy an Alice in Wonderland costume from Party City and go to a Halloween party. It is quite another if I buy the necessary fabric and crafts needed to make a Heimdall outfit, put in the work of actually putting it together, and then attended Alamo City Comic-Con wearing it while looking both solemn and wise the whole time (if you can’t tell, I have absolutely considered doing this).

Without putting too fine a point on it, cosplay is almost more like personification or embodiment. How well a person is able to pull it off depends on just how much they can actually look like the character.

I understand the line between costumes and cosplay is probably still fuzzy for some, but ultimately they’re both about having fun, or at least they should be.

Either way, the WNW wishes everyone a happy and safe Halloween, and we’ll see you next week.

Word Nerd Wednesdays

by Kristi R. Johnson

Something that seems to trip up a fair amount of writers is the use of transitions. I have worked with many students who admit that transitioning from transitionone paragraph or idea to the next does not exactly come naturally to them. In fact, many students become stuck at the point of the transition and end up agonizing over how to move into the next idea. It isn’t so much that they don’t have the next idea, they just aren’t sure how to get there.

When it comes to transitioning between paragraphs, resources like Smart-Words.org are invaluable, and the site groups¬† transition words and phrases by type and use. So if you’re wanting to link up two agreeing or similar ideas, you can use “in the same way, ” “equally important,” or “furthermore.” But to switch to a contrasting point, you can use “although this may be true,” “on the other hand,” or of course, the well used and well loved “however.”

Of course, much like the word “say,” it is incredibly easy to overuse the word “however,” and thinking of a different word that would work well for your transition at that moment always seems impossible. A few of my favorites include “although,” “otherwise,” “nevertheless,” and “regardless.”

The area that students seem to get stuck on the most though is the transition between the introduction, where the thesis has just been introduced, and the first body paragraph. For that, the above examples most likely will not be appropriate. But that is where phrases such as “for the purpose of,”¬† “with this intention,” and “with this in mind” can come in handy.

And when it comes to avoiding the tempting but often cringe worthy “in conclusion,” may I suggest “as can be seen,” “in the final analysis,” or even “given these points.”

Basically, transitions are nothing to be afraid of, and nothing to get hung up on. If you are stumped by a transition, move on to writing the rest of the paragraph, if only just to get something on the page. Transitions can always be inserted later.

Word Nerd Wednesdays

by Kristi R. Johnson

Today I decided to take a brief look at one of my all-time favorite words. I like it so much that once upon a time I owned a simple black tee with just this word printed on it. It serves as a response when only the most ambivalent and noncommittal expression will do.

“Meh” is a great word for so many reasons. For me, the first of which is that I realized its full potential while watching the above scene on The Simpsons. Bart and Lisa may not get along most of the time, but when they do join forces, it is often to the frustration of their parents and their inability to understand their children.

The word was first used on the show in the episode “Sideshow Bob Roberts,” as a librarian responds to Lisa’s surprise that voting records are not in fact confidential. It was used again in “Lisa’s Wedding” as Bart’s response to Marge’s attempt to get him interested in loom weaving.

But it is the above scene from “Hungry, Hungry Homer” that brings me the most joy, as Lisa actually spells out the word for her dad after being asked if she and Bart want to visit Blockoland. Ultimately, the word expresses extreme indifference, leaning towards disinterest, even sometimes pointing to boredom. And I think the fact that it is a complete sentence on its own is what makes me the most happy.

Not to be confused with “eh,” though, which is usually used more to mean either “excuse me,” or “right?” (as in: It is still hot here in Texas, eh?). Also, “eh” isn’t usually used as an adjective, while “meh” is often a descriptor for something that is found to be mediocre, unexceptional, or pedestrian (“Your sweater is kind of meh.” “Eh?”).

Thanks for indulging me, fellow word nerds. Feel free to provide suggestions for other words to explore in later posts.

Need Some Help Starting that Research Paper??

By Sabrina Z.

Everyone needs a little help now and then. And that is perfectly alright.

As midterms approach, mid-semester projects will be due soon and final research projects will be joining the conversation.

I can truthfully say that there are some assignments that I put off, whether because I think working off the adrenaline will help or I simply procrastinate. It happens to everyone and we just have to own it.

But if you want a little help to develop a plan for your next assignment, the Sueltenfuss Library and ACE collaborated and created a nifty little tool called The Assignment Calculator.

Enter your due date and the calculator will put together a timeline of dates and stages that will guide you through the work process to completion.

Having a strategy for completing work can ease some of the stress from the work process, and ideally inspire you as a researcher and writer.

If you want to try it out, click on this link: http://calc.ollusa.edu/ollu_calculator/

The link can also be found on the left side of this blog page, under “Resources.”

Check out the flyer below for more details:

Give it a try for a little extra organization when working on your major assignments.
Give it a try for a little extra organization when working on your major assignments.

Happy Writing!!

Word Nerd Wednesdays

by Kristi R. Johnson

Today I am going to talk about an issue regarding a pair of words that plagued me as a writer for quite some time. Trying to distinguish between these two, and pick the correct one to use for any given moment, often drove me to reconsider entire sentences and pick alternate words. Only through a great amount of practice and forced confrontation with these words did I finally get the hang of it.

Contrary to popular belief, ‘lie’ and ‘lay’ are not interchangeable, although it is absolutely understandable where the confusion comes from. And it doesn’t at all help matters that lay can be used as the past tense for lie.

Allow me to explain:

Lay is used when talking about an object. You lay stuff down, like a pencil on a desk, or a pillow on a bed. Another way to think of it is to interchange the word put for lay. You put the pencil on the desk, and you put the pillow on the bed.

But you don’t lie the pillow on the bed. Lie can’t refer to an object. You lie down when you’re tired, but you don’t lie a pencil on a desk, just as you don’t lay down when you’re tired.

Of course, as I mentioned before, things get tricky. While the past tense of lay is laid, the past tense of lie is lay. Hence the title of William Faulkner’s book, As I Lay Dying.

Ah, the English language.

But as I said before, with continued practice and steady vigilance, you will get this. We’ll all get this.

Welcome to the Mary Francine Danis Writing Center at ACE. You can find tips, news, and fun posts about the wonderful world of writing, the ACE, and the OLLU Community!