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Words

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I’m gonna sit right down and write myself an e-mail:

Bick Satterfield wonders why “e-mail” is treated differently than “mail.”

“When posting several letters, I have never said I was sending some mails. I have never said I sent someone a mail. Why do people send an e-mail or some e-mails?” Fortunately, he has his own answer, since I don’t. “Perhaps in electronic communications there is no substitute for ‘letters’ and so ‘e-mails’ is used?”



Not to be confused with tonnage:

At the post office the other day, a man with a package to mail asked the clerk if she could “put some dunnage in with that.” She didn’t know what he meant. Neither did I. He said it was a freight term, and he was in the freight business. Dunnage, it turns out, is “loose material laid beneath or wedged between objects being shipped to prevent damage in transit.” Most people around here would call this material “packing.”



Unveil those tears:

“You normal people take for granted deliriously contented ordinary lives, passing peaceably through this darkened veil of tears without the unremitting torment that, like a dark, sinister cloud, relentlessly tracks those of us who keep watch over the news.”

Richard W. Chapman of Little Rock writes: “Surely the writer intended to use ‘vale,’ which refers to a valley. Further, one would not pass ‘peaceably’ through a darkened vale of tears, since the phrase refers to the series of troubles one encounters in life.”



Trooping along:

“8 troops face murder counts.”

From Wayne Jordan: “I question whether ‘troops’ is used correctly in that headline.”

Troops refers to a body of soldiers, as in “Troops were sent to the border.” If you’re talking about soldiers as individuals — and it’s individuals who are charged with murder — say “soldiers.” There’s such a thing as one troop — technically, a troop is a subdivision of a cavalry regiment — but the word is seldom used that way.

A member of a troop is a trooper. A member of a group of entertainers is a trouper.




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