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English for RPGs – Part 04

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I’ve found a couple more that I don’t like the look of, but seem to be okay.

The plural of bus can be buses or busses, but to me, busses means kisses.
Chord has an anatomical meaning, so I guess that “vocal chords” is acceptable.

I’ll start this batch off with another mathematical quibble.


You may recall from your grade school days that when dividing by a fraction, you “invert and multiply.” So, if you say “divide by half,” then you are saying to “multiply by two.”

This means that when determining the average of two numbers, you add them together, and then divide the result “in half” or “by two.”


allowed (v) past of allow, to permit
aloud (adv.) in a speaking voice

The busy port at the confluence of several trade ports allowed disparate peoples to mingle.
The priest read aloud from the holy text.


cite (v) to give an example, to quote a reference
sight (v) to see, to aim
site (v) to place in a location

When preparing a research paper, you must cite your references clearly.
The infantryman sighted his rifle at the approaching column.
The church was sited near the bridge.


hydraulic (adj.) related to motion of liquids esp. water

This is another one where I can’t figure out what was intended. I read, “the hydraulic process of natural selection.” Maybe they just meant to say that the process was “fluid?”


loose (v) to set free
lose (v) to fail to win, to suffer a deficit

He prepared to loose an arrow. The cocktails caused people to lose their inhibitions.
These pants are looser. He is a total loser.
They are loosing the hounds as we speak. We are losing this game.


populace (n) the people, the masses
populous (adj.) densely populated

The populace was angered by the new taxes.
The capital was the most populous city in the kingdom.


sleight (n) skill, dexterity
slight (adj.) small, thin (v) to treat rudely or indifferently (n) an insult

She is slight of build. She is a master at sleight of hand.


than (conj.) used in comparisons
then (n) that time (adj.) at a previous time (adv.) at that time, next

Better him than me. I love it more than life itself. Fly higher than an eagle.
First do this, then that. Now and then, I like to party.


track (n) a path, a road, a trail (of something)
tract (n) expanse of land, (anat.) a structure along or through which something passes

The track led deeper into the forest. The junkie had needle tracks on his arms and legs.
Her dowry consisted of huge tracts of land. There was an obstruction in the respiratory tract.


The individual English meanings of vice and visa are irrelevant to my purposes here, as I just want to state that the Latin phrase is “vice versa” when you want to say that something is similar whether back to front or front to back.

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Updated 02-17-2009 at 11:43 PM by TAROT



  1. kirksmithicus's Avatar
    This is another one where I can’t figure out what was intended. I read, “the hydraulic process of natural selection.” Maybe they just meant to say that the process was “fluid?”

    My guess would be more along the lines of "pressure" or "force". A bad analogy comparing natural selection to a mechanical process. You apply "pressure" to the system and selection happens.