authors & audience grammar & speech language & style

“Land In South Carolina”

The junk mail subject piqued my interest but not to own a swamp or make a pit stop. No, I wanted to know if “land” was on the approved verb list.

According to the authors of simplified technical English it’s not.

The Simplified Technical English standard is used by those who prepare maintenance documentation for the North American and European aerospace industry. A method of writing using controlled language aims to prevent misinterpretation. This is accomplished by limiting general word use to fewer than 1000 and adopting around 200 approved verbs.

stop, start, get, make – approved verbs
begin, end, land, manufacture – not approved

A dictionary plus set of writing rules and training are things that help writers cope.

authors & audience language & style

Cross-border negotiations — table it

“I bring something to the table!”
This term ‘table’ has been bugging me since moving to Canada. Apparently, here, ‘to table‘ something means to formally propose or offer a topic for discussion. For example, the condo association tabled the discussion on landscaping. After the agenda items were covered they initiated a discussion so residents could gripe about dead shrubbery.
In the US you’d say ‘let’s table it’ to mean postponing any discussion or consideration of a motion or thing.
Knowing this difference is helpful before tabling anything with Americans and Canadians present.

grammar & speech language & style


Threading has more than one meaning and I was curious why the neighbourhood manicurists advertise ‘threading’.

My new hairstylist informed me that threading refers to an eyebrow treatment. I envisioned a steady hand painlessly sewing threads to the skin. A sparse brow nicely filled. Oh no, she corrected. Threading trims the brow by removing a row of hairs at a time. According to her client with the best-looking brows the technique involves a flying thread, strong teeth and head/hand coordination.

eybrow threading
eybrow threading

Now I wanted threading and everything I wanted to know was answered quite thoroughly on YouTube.

writing & editing

Free the verbs

While verbs do the job of denoting action, some sentences challenge us to find a pulse. Luckily, there’s a way to reveal those hidden actions. Here’s how.

Locate an equipment warranty or similar document that has conditions and clauses. Now look for a verb form that ends in –ance, –tion, or –ment. These suffixes tip-off actions that will spring to life after a simple rewrite.

For example you can probably spot the word ‘agreement’. To free the verb agree simply lop off the verbal suffix then rephrase the sentence. You’ll go from… ‘We must get to the agreement stage…’ to ‘We agree to disagree’.