The Compulsive Copyeditor

February 26, 2013

What Oft Was Thought, but Ne’er So Clearly Expressed

Filed under: punctuation — amba12 @ 9:05 am

Punctuation is like track switches on a railway line. It tells the brain which way to go, and sometimes it tells it to go in two directions at once, which makes it slam on the brakes.

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6 Comments »

  1. Punctuation is like track switches on a railway line. It tells the brain which way to go, and sometimes it tells it to go in two directions at once, which makes it slam on the brakes.

    And then the whole construction loses its mojo (energy) by way of Bremsstrahlung. The error is glaring. :)

    Comment by chickelit — February 26, 2013 @ 9:59 am | Reply

  2. I just like the word Bremsstrahlung.

    Comment by chickelit — February 26, 2013 @ 10:00 am | Reply

  3. Just off the top of my head, the word appears to mean something like “brake beaming” (in the sense of light beams or rays). Does it mean the sparks from friction on rails when the trainman brakes?

    Comment by amba12 — February 26, 2013 @ 10:38 am | Reply

    • Does it mean the sparks from friction on rails when the trainman brakes?

      Sparks = Scintillating

      To me, Bremsstrahlung means the energy lost (as gamma radiation or X-ray) when an electron encounters another nucleus and is deflected (slowed). It’s a German word, invented by 20th century physicists and meant “braking radiation.” That I knew from studying quantum mechanics.

      Today I learned that there is a medical diagnostic technique which relies on technetium called “Bremsstrahlung scintigraphy.” A patient is dosed with Tc-99 which localizes at sites of interest and decays, giving off detectable signals.

      But enough digression. Here’s a serious question for you: suppose I wanted to eliminate more errors from things I write? How would I do that?

      Comment by chickelit — February 26, 2013 @ 12:09 pm | Reply

      • Send them to me. (Heh.) I’m only half joking. It’s hard to both write and check yourself. Writers shouldn’t have to.

        Are you referring to writing errors or factual errors? (I do both.)

        Comment by amba12 — February 26, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

  4. And so do most decent copy editors.

    Comment by amba12 — February 26, 2013 @ 12:28 pm | Reply


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