by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Writing”

Ways in which Microsoft Word Makes Me Laugh: Redux

Posted 29 February 2008 in by Catriona

I wouldn’t have thought there was a problem with the line, in the middle of a description of pay rates for mid-Victorian penny weeklies, “Reynolds specifies that this is for ‘the four pages (including the wood-cut)’”.

The preposition use seems just fine to me.

Microsoft Word wants me to change this to “Reynolds specifies that this be for ‘the four pages (including the wood-cut)’”.

Because, apparently, as well as being the author of the fabulous Mysteries of London, a Chartist, a confirmed tee-totaller with an extensive cellar of French wine, and a prolific journalist, George William Macarthur Reynolds was also a Cornish pirate.

Ways in which Microsoft Word Makes Me Laugh: A Much Shorter Series

Posted 28 February 2008 in by Catriona

Halfway through editing a section on a strange adaptation of one of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, I come across a squiggly green line under the phrase “the bare breast”.

This seems odd, so I check.

Word wants me to change this to “the bear breast”.

I do realise that it’s simply trying to be helpful on the subject of confusable pairs, but in this case, I’m definitely not talking about half-naked animals.

To prove it, here’s the picture for the story in question.

Not really the sort of thing you expect to find on the cover of an 1866 journal called Fiction for Family Reading, but not ursine nudity, either.

I also suspect that when the noun is “breast”, the adjective is rarely if ever “bear”, excluding any interesting recipes for unusual game that I’ve overlooked.

Or unless, apparently, you’re thinking of getting gummy bear breast implants

Ways in which Microsoft Word Annoys Me: Probably, Alas, a Lengthy, Ongoing Series

Posted 28 February 2008 in by Catriona

Microsoft Word wishes me to change “working woman” to “workingwoman”.

Since the thesis deals with female professionalism, this was a request that came up with a fair degree of regularity before I got annoyed and “ignored all”. The combination of adjective and noun expresses my critical focus better than a single word would, anyway.

But is “workingwoman” actually a real word? My trusty OED is in my office at work, and there’s certainly no trace in the OED Australian Dictionary. I could, of course, access the OED online through library catalogue, but see my previous post for that debacle.

Dictionary.com suggests “workingwoman” is a real word, meaning “a woman who is regularly employed” or “a woman who works for wages” (really? How surprising!) but I’m not sure I trust dictionary.com on this one.

“Workwoman” I can see, as a counterpart to “workman”—not, to my mind, a necessary counterpart, but that’s another post.

But “workingwoman”? This one’s baffling me.

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