be a cunning linguist
Carrying on from yesterday's post, I've got a couple more links for you. How to create your own language (TA take note*) and some theory on how we construct sentences (L3 to L8 are most interesting from an editing standpoint).
The title of today's post reminds me of a very strange editing dilemma I came up against a few years ago. I was working on a trade publication called Retail Buyer International - a glossy, but fairly useless magazine aimed at department store management. An article had been submitted by a fairly prestigious chap that discussed lighting and other tricks to get people to stay in the shop longer and, hence, spend more money. In amongst all the waffle was a disturbing phrase: cunning linger signals. I reworded the phrase, chuckling to myself about the unconscious minds of eminent gentlemen, and when the article had been laid out sent it to the author's PR chap for approval.
Quick as you like, the PR chap fired off an email - Professor X wants to know why 'cunning linger signals' has been changed. I was beginning to smell a rat! I drafted an email that referred to the 'James Bond tone' and explained that this was unsuitable for such an august publication, but was overruled by my team manager. In the end we settled for: 'cunning linger signals' might have unfortunate connotations when read aloud.
Next thing I know, my phone is ringing. PR chap seems to think I've had a sense of humour bypass. He is at pains to tell me that the 'unfortunate connotations' were the very reason the phrase was included. His final riposte? "I hope I can slip something in under your nose next time."
*TA likes to invent languages when he is creating D&D scenarios.