Category Archives: Pedantry


The design of this blog is quite deliberate. Typography is something that interests me, and I did have in mind, when selecting and customizing the theme, that it should be simple, uncluttered, and readable. For example, it isn’t accidental that the footnotes are a contrasting, sans-serif font. The line-length on this blog should vary from […]

Terminology note: Pope

Via Rorate coeli, Archbishop Jan Graubner reports recent remarks by Francis I, the incumbent of the See of Rome: When we were discussing those who are fond of the ancient liturgy and wish to return to it, … [Francis] made a quite strong statement when he said that he understands when the old generation returns […]

Tsar or Czar?

In the United States, the term “czar” is sometimes used to denote an extraconstitutional layer of Presidential advisers (among other things). When the office bears no resemblance to its ancestor, the word has scant obligation to do so, and so, in that idiosyncratic context, I have no objection to the term. For all other purposes, […]

Modifying infinitives

Generally, we expect adverbs and adjectives to immediately precede the word that they modify. But what about infinitives? If you shouldn’t split an infinitive, how can you qualify infinitives? One answer is to make the adverb postpositive, as did James Cromwell, playing Zephram Cochrane: “This engine will allow us to go boldly where no man […]

Terminology note: High Church and Low Church

As much as we are apt to resist labels, the need to distinguish between two strains of Catholic thought and attitude that are predominant in America today has led me to rely, here and elsewhere, on the prevailing terminology of “liberal” and “conservative.” See, e.g., 1 MPA, at 57, 62, 116. But those terms—freighted as […]

1 Motu Proprio Breviarium Annuum

The first volume of the Annuum—an annual report of this blog, collecting significant posts—is now available in two formats, the authoritative PDF (for iPad, PC, and Mac) and PRC (for Kindle).

Less and fewer

Helpful guidance on one of those little usage niggles that drive pedants like me crazy: Getting less and fewer right.  

Usage notes from 2011

Over at FB, I’ve been posting an occasional series of friday usage tips. Here’s what we’ve looked at so far: Usage tip #1: That and Which. As a rule, use “that” for defining clauses, i.e. when what follows restricts what preceded (“the book that I wrote”); use “which” when what follows simply gives more information (“the book, […]

Archbp. Williams

Few men can get away with using mutatis mutandis in spoken English, and I appreciate his Grace for being one of them.