Archive for Friday, June 14, 2013

Letter: Coin, quoin

June 14, 2013


To the editor:

On Sunday, June 9 there was an interesting, if partially flawed story on the front page. In it, your reporter writes that buildings have been identified as having survived Quantrill’s raid by comparing their “coining” with early photographs of buildings along Massachusetts as found in David Dary’s book.  

“Coining” or “coin” are not building terms. However “quoin” is, as is well known to a mason or anyone with an architectural education. It refers to the use of special masonry units at the corner of a building. A common example of the use of “quoins” would be dressed stone on the corners of a brick building. But one does not need expert knowledge of building design and construction to know this definition. It is commonly found in any dictionary.


funkdog1 5 years ago

Wow, Steve. That's pretty snotty. Consider a reporter interviewing someone who uses what they think sounds like the word "coin." If the interviewee doesn't explicitly say "that's q-u-o-I-n, not c-o-I-n" it may not even occur to the reporter that the word may be spelled a different way. Will the reporter learn from this experience and ask more questions in the future? Yes. But this was obviously an honest mistake.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

And I think Steve is honestly pointing it out. He didn't call the reporter stupid. He was just pointing out something that mostly people in the building trade would know. He doesn't fault the reporter, just teaches us all something. I didn't know the difference.

Ken Lassman 5 years ago

Completely agree, tomato. This was a teachable moment and Steve educated us all with no ill intent implied and none should be taken.

funkdog1 5 years ago

"But one does not need expert knowledge of building design and construction to know this definition. It is commonly found in any dictionary." Sounds snotty to me.

gccs14r 5 years ago

I think we've gone way too far in trying to not hurt people's feelings when pointing out sloppy work. A little bite in a critique is not unwarranted. His remark is not directed solely at the reporter, either. The editor bears final responsibility for letting that word go out the door.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

squash  [skwosh, skwawsh]
Part of Speech: verb
Synonyms: annihilate, bear, bruise, crowd, crush, distort, extinguish, flatten, jam, kill, macerate, mash, pound, press, pulp, push, put down, quash, quell, scrunch, shut down, sit on, smash, squeeze, squish, stamp on, suppress, trample, triturate
Notes: quash means to crush or to subdue or to suppress or extinguish summarily and completely, while squash means to compress, crush, or squeeze

fmrl, thanks for the comment, I looked it up to make sure I was using the word properly and was surprised. Never too old to learn.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

I hate the use of less, when it should be fewer. It doesn't even sound right.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

Granted, but there should also be a little wiggle room where people can just have fun with language. Which is not the same as being sloppy in speech and writing.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

Well, I am familiar with the word quoin. My insatiable curiosity has led me to read about 12th century Mesoamerican architecture in which the subject is discussed. Also, 13th century cathedral architecture in France. Yep, I read pretty much everything and since I have been reading about three books a week since I was ten that comes to...well, it's astronomical.

bevy 5 years ago

If misuse of a fairly obscure term merits a LTE, perhaps I should write one about all of my linguistic pet peeves, seen often on these message boards. To wit:

  1. The incorrect use of apostrophes to indicate plural nouns. For example "I went to the store and bought two tomato's." No you didn't, you bought two tomatoes.
  2. Using loose when the write means lose. One does not loose one's mind. One loses it. One can, however, loose the hounds. Which means to let them go intentionally, not mislay them by accident.
  3. The use of lead (as in the metal) when the writer means led. Granted, this is a tricky one, since another use of the word spelled lead (pronounced leed) is the verb for which led is the past tense. For example: He led us through the forest. Lead us not into temptation. It was a lead pipe cinch.

Mostly I just grit my teeth and bear it. English is a tricky beast!

bevy 5 years ago

Item 2 - should say "when the writer" Got so worked up I made a mistake! Don't judge me!

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

Different parts of the country have different dialects and names for the same thing. Do you call it a fry pan or a skillet or maybe a spider?

Don't want to overdo the links, but I found this to be interesting. English is not the same as it was when I was a child. For instance, a cigarette was a fag. What would happen if you now asked someone for a fag? Anyone know any other terms that have changed? Remember when gay meant happy?

gccs14r 5 years ago

I remember when English had diacritical marks. Coöperate is the example of this I most often use.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.