crisis, crises

crisis, crises2

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS

A crisis is a turning point, a moment of danger or suspense. Crises is the plural of crisis, which, to judge from the newspapers, you might believe to be a useful word in these troubled times.

But crisis is also an overworked word. Not every miserable situation in the world is a crisis, because not every one of them is at a turning point. The Chinese know the difference, for they write the word crisis in two characters, as on this page, the first character meaning danger, and the other opportunity.

Can world hunger be considered a crisis if there is no hope of improvement?

 

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The Writer's Stylebook is a unique collaboration between two former journalists -- my father, Lawrence, and me. Mr. Fellows, an impassioned wordsmith and journalist of long standing, created the original Stylebook, which he distributed to Connecticut newspapers and worked on for over a decade until his death 16 years ago. In 2003, the Connecticut Press Club published "Wordwatch: A Writer's Guide to Linguistic Distinctions," a compendium of nearly 300 of my father's word features. Unfortunately, that book is out of print and my father's features have been languishing in the attic of our family home in Westport -- until now. With the blessing of my mother, Ruth, I'm reviving the Stylebook and putting it online in the hope that it will find new readers. I think there's a need for a lively, illustrated guide to words and word usages that isn't wordy -- especially in today's fast-paced world!

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