by Bob Yearick


Two European cities currently in the news no doubt will continue to be prominent in the near future, so it behooves us to learn how to spell and pronounce them. 

There is no debate about the spelling of the Russian capital: Moscow. But some of us pronounce it Mos-cow. That’s wrong. The proper pronunciation is Mos-co, as in Costco. 

The capital of Ukraine is a bit more complicated. In that country, the capital is “Kyiv” (pronounced KEE-yiv), while the Russian version is “Kiev” (KEE-yev). The British daily newspaper The Guardian explains that the latter “became the internationally accepted name through the Soviet period and into the first years of this century, its recognizability enhanced perhaps by the eponymous chicken dish that became popular in the west in the 1970s. But it is now associated with the Russification of Ukraine, and in recent years more and more publications, governments, airports and geographical dictionaries have switched the spelling to the Ukrainian variant. . . Many Ukrainians see this as a sign of respect for their language and identity.”

 So, let us recognize a courageous nation and go with Kyiv (KEE-yiv).

Media Watch

As usual, USA TODAY leads our parade with the first three items:

•Brian Truitt, writing about Catwoman and Batman in The Batman: “. . . their cat-and-mouse dynamic finds them growing closer while each are on a mission seeking justice for the past.” Each is singular, thus the verb should be is. And (quibbling here) how does one seek justice “for the past”?

•Paul Myerberg: “Offered the opportunity to explain his side of why he instigated a brawl after Sunday’s loss to Wisconsin, Howard trotted out pathetic excuses . . “. Why, oh why, Paul, did you need “his side of”?

•And there were a couple of problems with this sentence in the paper’s Delaware section: “A limited amount of pre-sale tickets will go on sale Friday at” First, amount should be number since it refers to a plural — tickets. Second, there’s no need for “pre-sale.”

•Willie Geist on Sunday Today with Willie Geist, speaking of Ariana DeBose, the breakout co-star of West Side Story: “She was raised by a single mother, who took her prodigious daughter to ballet, tap and jazz lessons.” Perhaps Willie meant that the young DeBose had prodigious (great in extent, size or degree) talents. Or perhaps he was thinking of prodigy (a person, especially a young one, endowed with exceptional qualities or abilities), but the word prodigious by itself does not describe the svelte DeBose. A usually reliable wordsmith, Willie missed the mark here.

•Tom Moore, in the Bucks County Courier Times: “James Harden’s resume and the 15 days between being traded to the 76ers and playing in his first game created extremely high expectations for Harden’s debut.” Tom meant résumé — a document listing a person’s background, skills, and accomplishments. Without the accent marks, it means recommence, or restart.

News-Journal subscriber Debbie Layton received a letter from Executive Editor Mike Feeley informing her that the Saturday paper will now be online only. The letter began this way: “As a loyal subscriber, we understand this change will impact you.” Bad news, delivered with a dangling modifier. 

•According to reader Janet Strobert, another dangler was uttered by host Mayim Bialik when she said this to a Jeopardy contestant:  “As a nursing student, I’m glad you’re correct.” (The nursing student was the contestant, not Mayim).  

•A reader spotted this in the Williamsport (Pa.) Sun-Gazette: “Insinger has oversaw plenty of incredible teams, including a team in 1993 which reached the Class A final . . .” Oversaw should be overseen, of course, and that would be a better choice than which in the restrictive clause here.

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Reader Karen Jessee, a former teacher, recalls this conversation with a student:
Student:  I hate Ms. ___.  She’s so incontinent.
Me:  You mean incompetent.
Student:  Same thing.
    When you think about it, the kid kind of had a point.

Literally of the Month

Continuing our contributions from GOATs (last month we featured Tom Brady), we have LeBron James, commenting on fellow NBA-er Steph Curry: ”He literally has an automatic sniper connected to his arm . . .”

Word of the Month


Pronounced kak-oh/uh-WEE-theez, it’s a noun meaning an irresistible urge to do something, especially something inadvisable.

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Bob Yearick
The copy editor of Out & About, Bob Yearick retired from DuPont in 2000 after 34 years as an editor and writer. Since “retiring,” Bob has written articles for Delaware Today, Main Line Today and other publications. His sports/suspense novel, Sawyer, was published in 2007. His grammar column, “The War on Words,” is one of the most popular features in O&A. A compilation of the columns was published in 2011. He has won the Out & About short story contest as well as many awards in the annual Delaware Press Association writing contest.

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