Mubblefubbles

Have you ever felt in low spirits and struggled to find an appropriate word to describe how you feel? I would like to suggest mubblefubbles as an option. It is considered to be obsolete but I think it’s a suitably expressive word for a difficult to verbalise feeling.

Mubblefubbledark-cloudss means a state of depression, melancholy or despondency. It’s quite often used in the form of to be in (or out of) one’s mubblefubbles.

The OED’s first recorded usage is from 1589 but the word’s origins are unclear. It could be imitative and I suspect the alternative form mumblefubbles may support this idea.

“‘I never used to be so full of the mubblefubbles,’ he told me wryly. ‘So fearful, so bitter—but the days when I was—when I was myself—seem so long ago that I can hardly remember them.'”

– Nancy Springer, The Golden Swan, 2014


Sources:

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‘Descent’ and ‘dissent’

Descent and dissent are homophones that may just be a tad topical. It’s definitely worth knowing the difference.

descentDescent

  • the act of moving downwards, falling or dropping; a decline
  • the origin or background of a person (in terms of family or nationality)
  • a sudden attack or unexpected visit (descent on)

Dissent

  • the holding or expression of opinions that differ from those commonly or officially held
  • to hold or express opinions that differ from those commonly or officially held

My tip: to dissent is usually to disagree.


Sources:

Overmorrow

Have you ever wished there was a simpler way to say ‘the day after tomorrow’? Well, I’m here to provide you with the ideal word: overmorrow.

morning-sunrise-in-the-alpsIt is probably modelled on the German word übermorgen (über meaning ‘over’ and morgen meaning ‘morning’ or ‘tomorrow’). The German language has retained the use of übermorgen, but sadly overmorrow has become obsolete in English. I think that’s a shame – overmorrow expresses a useful concept concisely and without confusion.

The OED gives the first recorded use of overmorrow as in 1535, but I’m disappointed to report that I haven’t been able to find many examples. I’m slightly surprised as I had thought it might be popular in contemporary fantasy or historical fiction; it would certainly fit in nicely.

“‘Eh, no good. We’ll change that,’ she said. ‘You’ll start overmorrow.'”

– Greer Macallister, The Magician’s Lie, 2015


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Reasons I provide a sign-off form

This post expands on something I wrote on the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) forum a while ago. It was in response to a fellow member’s query about how to get feedback from clients, and I’m sure anyone who works as a freelance or on a project-by-project basis will know how difficult this can be.

A sign-off form is a relatively new addition to my documentation process, but it has proved to be an effective tool for gaining feedback. Previously, I was worried about asking for my client’s opinion of my work. (My thought stream sounded something like this: what if they hate my work? What if they hate me? What if they tell everyone I’m useless and I never get any work again and I starve to death and am eaten by my cats? Or worse, I have to go back to working in admin. Or retail.) But over time I have realised that isn’t very conducive to personal and professional progression. And, actually, most people are nice and want to say nice things. The client sign-off form has facilitated a significant boost to my confidence.

feedbackI first started using the sign-off form as a condition of my professional indemnity insurance (my insurer prefers that there is a documented sign-off where the client accepts the work I have done). The form simply asks the client to confirm that they have received the project and that it has been completed according to the brief and any terms and conditions. I have then added space (a comment box) for the client to use to leave any feedback they might want to give. There are two main reasons I added that box:

  1. It’s an easy way to get a testimonial. I find it awkward to ask directly, and it doesn’t put any pressure on the client to provide one. They simply can if they wish. (But I make it clear on the form that I might use their feedback for promotional purposes unless they tell me they would prefer otherwise.)
  2. I want to know if the way I have the approached the project is the best way for them. This is particularly important for clients I hope to develop a long-lasting relationship with. Some publishers like things done slightly differently to others, which might not have been mentioned in the brief. If I know what the client likes, I can do it. The form signals to the client that I want, and am prepared for, constructive feedback.

Nearly every client I have sent a sign-off form to has returned it, and returned it with positive feedback. I’ve had positive comments about the use of the form itself, so I’m reassured that it comes across as a thoughtful and professional document. This has led me to consider, so far, that the sign-off form has been a success. Once you have the template ready to go, it takes hardly any time at all to produce, and it is quick for the client to complete while still allowing for more specific detail than tick-boxes or similar.

Any fellow freelancers have suggestions for effective ways to get useful feedback? I’d love to know.

‘Role’ and ‘roll’

Mixing up role and roll is a common mistake. Role is a noun, but roll can be a verb or a noun. You can find more comprehensive definitions of roll – I’ve just listed the main uses here (it’s a really long list otherwise) – but mine should give you an idea of the difference between the two words.

Role

  • a task or function

Roll

  • strawberry-caketo move by turning over and over; to rotate
  • to move or run on wheels
  • to turn something over and over to form a ball or cylinder
  • to flatten something
  • to reverberate; a prolonged reverberating sound
  • to appear like waves; to undulate
  • something that has been rolled up to form a cylinder shape
  • a small bread (enough for one person)
  • an official list or register
  • a swaying or unsteady movement

My tip: associate roll with ball (balls roll and you can roll something pliable into a ball) and/or poll (you need to be on the electoral roll to use a polling station).


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

Proot

For the topic of this blog post, I’ve picked a word that has a very limited use. But it does allow me to use a picture of an adorable-looking donkey.

donkeyProot is a word said to donkeys (or mules) to encourage them to move faster. Its origin is unknown. It could be related to the word proo, which is used to call cows and command horses. My understanding is that proo is imitative of a sound the animals naturally respond to.

The first recorded use is found in Robert Louis Stevenson’s account of his solo hiking trip through part of France. Modestine was the donkey who carried Stevenson’s belongings.

“‘Proot!’ seemed to have lost its virtue. I prooted like a lion, I prooted mellifluously like a sucking-dove; but Modestine would be neither softened nor intimidated.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, 1879.


Sources:

‘Allowed’ and ‘aloud’

Allowed and aloud are homophones. It’s a common mistake to use these two in place of each other. (Although I suspect some incorrect uses are because of predictive text functions.) Aloud can be substituted for ‘out loud’; allowed is the past tense of the verb allow.

musicAloud

  • audibly

Allow

  • to permit
  • to set aside
  • to acknowledge or admit

My tip: aloud is audible; allowed is permitted.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

 

Jirble

spilt-milkHere’s a word for the next time you spill your hot or cold beverage of choice: jirble.

Jirble means ‘to spill by shaking or unsteady movement of the container’ or ‘to pour out unsteadily’ – usually due to carelessness. It is a Scottish word that is supposed to be imitative of the sound that is often made when liquids are jirbled.

“I jirbled the milk while I was speaking.”

The first use that the OED lists is from 1760 and the latest example given is from 1827. It would be a real shame if jirble didn’t make it into a few pieces of contemporary writing…


Sources:

  • Dictionary of the Scots Language Online
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online
  • Pixabay (image)

‘Foreword’ and ‘forward’

Foreword and forward are often listed as homophones, but whether this is true for your own speech probably depends on regional variations. I pronounce them differently, but I believe that when spoken in some other (particularly American) accents they sound the same.

Foreword

  • an introductory statement to a book

Forward

  • directed, travelling or moving aheadforward-arrow
  • at, in, near or towards the front
  • onward in order to make progress
  • bold, disrespectful or overfamiliar
  • well developed or advanced
  • of or relating to the future or favouring change
  • an attacking player in various sports
  • towards or at a place ahead or in advance
  • to send on to a destination
  • to advance or promote

My tip: a foreword is composed using words.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

Royal Holloway update

There have been some changes to Royal Holloway’s proofreading scheme since I became an approved proofreader in 2015.

RHUL

Founder’s Building in spring

Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) is one of the UK’s leading universities and my alma mater. It is located in Egham, Surrey and is famous for the beautiful Founder’s Building. You might recognise Founder’s from its fleeting appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron (it was really weird to see Thor outside somewhere I know so well).

The proofreading scheme is open to postgraduates and only allows the identification of errors. Undergraduates looking to improve their writing are encouraged to attend workshops and meetings organised by the Centre for the Development of Academic Skills (CeDAS) and are not currently allowed to use the proofreading scheme.

The identification code and proofreading policy remain the same, but the method of arranging the proofreading work has changed. This is what happens:

  1. The student’s supervisor completes a proofreading consent form and the supervisor sends the completed form to CeDAS.
  2. The student uses CeDAS’s online booking form to request the service of a proofreader from the approved list.
  3. CeDAS send the booking request to the proofreader. The proofreader contacts the student with a quote and timeframe for the work.
  4. The student sends the proofreader the final draft and the style guide.
  5. The proofreader returns the work and receives payment. The student makes corrections and then submits the work, making sure to acknowledge the use of a proofreader.

I’m happy to discuss my availability with RHUL students before they complete the booking request, but I can’t make any guarantees until I receive the official form from CeDAS. It is also important that students familiarise themselves with the level of intervention they can expect. You can read more about the scheme here.