This month’s word is:
Pettifogger – someone who argues over something petty or trivial, or who is excessively concerned with unimportant detail.
What a lovely word.
‘Stop being such a terrible pettifogger and focus on the main points of the case!’
There’s a few people not a million miles away that this would apply to…
English is renowned for its quirky, often logic-defying spelling rules. Gives it character, a mark of our mongrel heritage, we’re told. It doesn’t make it any easier to write, though.
One common area of confusion is when seemingly the same word has two spelling variations – one with a ‘c’, and one with an ‘s’. Words like practice and practise, or licence and license.
The simple answer is that you should use the ‘s’ version if it’s a verb, or the ‘c’ version if it’s a noun.
So verb: the solicitor plans to practise law in the City.
And noun: He hopes to build up a strong commercial property practice.
Or verb: the magistrates refused to license any more bars on the high street.
And noun: So the bar owner did not receive his new licence.
One way to remember is to think of advise and advice. Because these two are pronounced differently (the former with a ‘z’ sound, the latter a soft ‘c’ like in ice), they’re not confused as often. But they do follow he same rule – the verb form uses an ‘s’…to advise your colleague…while the noun takes a ‘c’…it was useful advice.
So, if you’re using the word as a verb, like to advise, to practise or to license, it’s spelt with an ‘s’. If you’re using it as a noun, like my licence, a practice, or good advice, it’s a ‘c’.
There’s been a few changes since the last issue of Write Words. We’ve moved offices (still in Manchester, just a nicer part), and we’ve had a personnel change (goodbye Sally hello Chris . We’ve also decided to change the frequency of Write Words to once every two months, to lighten the load on your Inbox.
On the client side, plenty of exciting new projects to get stuck into. We’ve been commissioned to plan and write the content for a new departmental website at the University of London, we won a tender to plan, write and edit a quarterly magazine for the Northwest Regional Development Agency, we’re working with Celerant Consulting on writing some sector brochures, and we’re doing a monthly newsletter for Career Management Consultants.
That’s on top of the regular stuff from the likes of KPMG, Britannia and Savills, plus a whole host of smaller (but no less important projects), so plenty to keep us busy!