If it’s partly sunny today, will it be partly dark tonight?

I herd words for a living, so I’m always interested in how they get rounded up. Over the years, however, some folks have herded words into pretty strange combinations. The herdsman, or herdswoman, was apparently all hat and no cattle. Once some of these strange combinations get into general useage vocabulary, however, they’re harder to get rid of than a bad habit. You’d be a wealthy man, or woman, if you had a nickel for every time you’re heard or read, the following. –“Brutal murder.” This is a double-hitter, so to speak. Just tell the facts, and let the readers, or listeners, decide if the killing was brutal, or how brutal it as. Murder, of course, is a legal term, not a descriptive one. I don’t use that term until there’s a conviction in a court of law, and not just the court of public opinion. Until then, I use the word “homicide,” which is a lot more precise, and less emotional. –“Cold-blooded” killing. Does someone’s blood get any colder when they kill? And when people use the phrase, “Young blood is hot blood, and hot blood gets spilled,” does it mean someone’s blood got hotter when they killed? Was someone’s blood hot when they committed a cold-blooded murder? Let’s use the term “remorseless.” –“Hardened” criminal. What hardens, his or her brain or skin or shell? Are talking scleroderma here? If a journeyman crook goes straight, is he or she a “softened” criminal? Let’s just say John or Mary is a repeat offender, or has multiple convictions or a long criminal history. –“We’re taking it one game ( also often heard as one day) at a time.” As if we could take it in bunches. –“We’re taking each day as it comes.” As if there was any other way to take them, or as if you could turn a day back in to the manufacturer, and hold out for a better model. –“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” As if you could cross the bridge before you got there.” –“It’s a sunny day.” It’s day, for heaven’s sakes. Therefore, by definition, the sun is shining on us. Even if “it’s a cloudy day,” the sun’s still shining behind the clouds. And if it’s “partly sunny” today, couldn’t it be “partly dark” tonight? –“Just a moment.” How long is a moment? Opinions vary. According to an old English time unit, a moment takes 1 1/2 minutes. In medieval times, however, a minute could be 1/40 or 1/60 of an hour. By rabbinical reckoning, a moment is precisely 1/1,080 of an hour. So how long is a moment? You decide, and I’ll get back to you, well, in a moment, whenever that might be.

Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel