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Little Things

two kids on hobbyhorse

Little things are important, but, of course, it depends upon who's judging.

The use of certain words and phrases can be really annoying.

We all have our pet peeves. Below are some of ours. What are yours?


We live in a world where there are no more problems -- just issues.

For example, a US National Weather Service, Hazardous Weather Outlook: "Localized flooding issues may develop with the biggest threat being for urban and small stream flooding." And a weatherman tells us that a tropical storm will turn into a Category 1 hurricane and "cause issues" for the United States East coast. Apparently, there will be no damages or deaths -- just things to discuss or dispute. We should be thankful.

"American Honda is recalling approximately 350,000 Civic coupe and sedans in the U.S. from the 2016 model year to fix an issue with the vehicles’ electronic parking brake" (autoweek.com, 18 Oct 2016). Fix an issue?

"We fixed an issue where trying to shut down the PC while certain Device Manager dialog boxes were open would result in the PC being stuck at the “Restarting…” screen" ("Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14971 for PC," November 17, 2016 10:01 am). Microsoft doesn't believe that a "stuck" computer is a problem.

Enron's financial "issues" led to its collapse.

Did the Apollo 13 crew report to the Houston control center, "Houston, we've had an issue here"? No, they correctly reported a problem.

try and

"Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind." (Donovan)

"Try and" (as opposed to "try to") is variously called colloquial, non-standard, informal and idiomatic. But to us it almost always seems illogical and substandard.

Its inflected forms don't work: "he tried and fix it" (he tried to fix it); "he is trying and fix it" (he is trying to fix it). Nor does its negative form: "try not and break it" (try not to break it).

We don't use "verb and" when we use synonyms for "try": we wouldn't write "I will endeavor and fix it," "I will attempt and fix it" or "I will strive and fix it."

"Try and" is appropriate when two actions are being emphasized as in "he tried and failed" (notice past tense). To say "he tried to failed" makes no sense.

Also, "try and" is correct when "try" is used to mean "put on trial": "We will try and convict him" (we will try him and we will convict him).

Those who defend "try and" point out that it is centuries old and appears in the works of well-regarded writers such as Charles Dickens and George Orwell.

In Chapter 16 ("Quadrille") of Dorothy L. Sayers' The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928) Marjorie Phelps says to Peter Wimsey: "All right. I won't ask questions. And I'll try and see Ann. But I won't try to worm anything out of her. That's definite. I'm standing by Ann."

Why "try to worm" but "try and see"?

Even though we try and accept "try and," we still find that most uses of it are issuematical.

Wee Words

Wee Words rewards you for playing short words and penalizes you for playing long words. Shorter words earn more points.

The score for a valid word is the sum of (1) the letter-points of the primary word and all new cross-words (if any) and (2) the length-points of the primary word and all new cross-words (if any). The combination of letter-points and length-points can result in a word earning negative points.

game board

HER earns 6 letter-points and 16 length-points for a total of 22 points.

game board

HERE earns 7 letter-points and 10 length-points for a total of 17 points.

game board

THERE earns 8 letter-points and 5 length-points for a total of 13 points.

You receive no bonus for using all seven tiles in your tray to form a word (sometimes called a bingo).

In 2-player mode the first word successfully checked earns double points, because the other player can almost always play two or more short words off the first word.

See also

Quick Intro to Wee Words

Sesquipedal a game that rewards playing long words