Off-ensive and Off-ending

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August 15, 2014 by bck1402

Have you ever looked at one word so often that it just doesn’t look right anymore?

The first time that happened for me was back in primary school when I misspelled the word ‘uses’ (with an extra ’s’) and as a correction exercise, I had to write the word out correctly ten times. Ten times… and that’s all it took for the word to look really silly to me.

U-S-E-S

After eighth time…

Doesn’t look right, doesn’t sound right. It was one weird looking word. Still is to me.

In editing the first book of the Journal, one of the more common typos I came across was mixing ‘of’ with ‘off’ and even after five rounds of read-throughs and corrections, those typos were still popping up. At this point, I really hope I got them all. Thing is, there are still two more books to get through. So, what did I do?

Instead of reading through the second manuscript, I thought I’d tackle this problem first. Using the FIND function, I hunted through the manuscript for all uses of ‘off’ – 417 occurrences. Nine of them were wrong (‘to think of’ and not ‘to think off’). I may have missed some, but I really hope not because somewhere after the 300 mark, ‘off’ seemed off. Three little letters and it didn’t look right anymore.

And it also occurred to me that I was using it waaaay too often and superfluously; ‘headed off to’, ‘went off to’, ‘took off’, etc.. I was really hating this word after another 50 occurrences, and it was getting hard to tell which was right, which was needed and which needed to be changed back to ‘of’. I didn’t even try to do the reverse, to see if I used ‘of’ instead of ‘off’ (just tried and the FIND function gave back 3939 occurrences, so that’s not happening).

Back to the slow road and making sure that fine-toothed comb is clean.

Meanwhile, does anyone else separate ‘practice’ and ‘practise’ as noun and verb, or use either as both noun and verb?

As in “I managed to get in some practise during the practice.” or “The Doctor has a practice. He practises medicine.” (those two words are beginning to look weird too.)

Goes with ‘offence’ and ‘offense’ too.

Thoughts?

add: And this what marks two years of blogging on this site… yeesh.

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