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Watch Your Words


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I admire Emily Carlson's willingness to speak up ("Don't Be Transphobic," Mailbox, March 14). My only disagreement with her letter is the line that goes "in a journal that totes itself." Totes? Carries itself around? Impersonates a carrying bag? I believe the word needed was touts. Webster defines "tout" as "to publicize aggressively."

This brings me to my other objection to the writing in the North Coast Journal: writers who are not accurate in their use of words. A case in point is the recent article about young people going through a "right of passage," by being on their mission here. Writer, ask yourself: If they didn't go on a "right of passage," would it have been a "wrong of passage?" A "left of passage?" I suspect they really go through a "rite of passage," which Webster defines as "a ceremonial act or procedure customary in religious or other solemn use."

Repeatedly the NCJ has printed that someone "pulls on the reigns." Can you, by using your hands, draw to a slower speed the tenures of a few rulers of countries, the way you can slow a horse with the leather straps attached to a horse's bridle? Spell check isn't going to help. You have to understand the concept.

I think we are losing the power of our own language by misusing it. Yes, a reader might be able to gloss over the mistaken use of a word, and understand the thing meant. But a writer should not rely on that gloss; a writer should be precise. Say what you mean. Capture my interest with your thoroughness, with your understanding of both your subject and your use of this language.

Pat Dillman, Bayside


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