Reins Rules over Reigns; Dylan and TSE in Jam about Bang/whimper V. Do Not Go Gentle; Thus Prevails

Article excerpt

Reader Kris Gallagher, ABC, e-mails this workstation from her employ at DePaul U. on E. Jackson Blvd. to report "an egregious item" she saw in the Chicago Sun Times on 12 Jan.

"In 1988 Cappo handed over the reigns of CCB to Gloria Scoby...."

Kris stood in her stirrups and nayed, "As an avid horsewoman, I know he handed over the reins (attached to the bridle). Kings reign. Reins steer."

Always pay attention. This will amaze and gratify your readers.

> A recent Boston Globe sports story led with "Let the games begin ... Boston College's 2003-04 regular season came to an end last night in Dylan Thomas-esque fashion--with a whimper, not a bang."

Right metaphor, perhaps, but wrong resource. Thomas may be best remembered for "Do not go gentle into that good night.... Rage, rage against the dying of the light." But what the Globe writer had in his head was Thomas Stearns Eliot's "Hollow Men," and its droning close: "This is the way the world ends / This is the way the world ends / This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper."

Kindly reread paragraph four, supra ... copy it onto a sticky note ... put it on your screen.

> A different league, a different series, a different lede, but a same-old same old solecism in the close: "a top scout for the Marlins assessed his team's chances thusly...."

John Bremner's Words on Words acknowledges thusly thus: "Thusly A barbarous version of thus. Thus is already an adverb."

> Sometimes it seems that certain words endure as trouble-makers, and I submit mortar as a prime target. Noun mortar can mean a vessel in which substances are crushed, or a machine in which materials are ground up. It can i.d. various bonding materials used in masonry. But it may be best known as--and here I borrow from definition 3a in my American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed.--"A portable, muzzleloading cannon used to fire shells at low velocities, short ranges, and high trajectories."

Despite the clear delineation--seen in most lexicons--writers and speakers of news regularly misspeak when this particular artillery piece is mentioned. …


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