About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 35 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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It’s [an editor's] job to make writing clear and effective, but I don’t think it’s necessarily our job to hold the line against changing usage or to defend the language from its own users. That is, nobody hired us to be in charge of the English language.

Jonathon Owen



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 11/30/2023

Totals
Posts - 2652
Comments - 2673
Hits - 2,642,074

Averages
Entries/day - 0.35
Comments/entry - 1.01
Hits/day - 350

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 4:37 AM Pacific


  10:20 AM

I found this in a comment on a blog post:
The, not really qualified for the position of teacher, instructor never bothered to use Notepad++.
I like this, because the author has the right instinct: there's a complex modifier for the word instructor, and he understands that it needs to be typographically indicated to make it parsable. The usual way is to hyphenate the whole dang thing:
The not-really-qualified-for-the-position-of-teacher instructor never bothered to use Notepad++.
Or a more boring way is to recast, e.g.:
The instructor, who was not really qualified for the position, never bothered to use Notepad++.
But that takes a certain oomph out of the sentence. It's possible that "Scott" considered hyphenating but was not comfortable; creating a chunk of hyphenated text like that takes a certain determination, and a faith that the reader will plow through it. Obviously, yer various style guides are not going to be down with using commas as the alternative. Still, like, I say, I do like this. It shows a writing mind at work.

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