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Author Topic: Looking back to the past 15 years that I’ve been writing this column  (Read 296 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: January 07, 2017, 05:29:09 PM »

As the year 2016 drew to a close, I looked back to see how many columns I’ve already written for The Manila Times since I started writing for its op-ed page in mid-2002. The running total for “English Plain and Simple,” which used to run Mondays to Fridays during the first two years and then weekly thereafter, was 1,023; add to that my “Silent Fire” columns, its Saturday reader-feedback companion piece during those first two years, and the figure goes up to more than 1,125 all told.

I honestly find it incredible that I have written that much material about English and its usage despite my initial misgivings that I wouldn’t be up to the task, having been only a campus journalist and college editor, very briefly a newspaper reporter, and for some 20 years a company editor and corporate communications executive. At the start I even used to wonder how I could keep it up with the meager formal instruction I had obtained in English, but over the years, I discovered that you could go a long way when you use your own life and love affair with English as raw material, distilling your learnings, experiences, successes, failures, and heartbreaks into 800-word and later 650-word lessons in expository or narrative prose.

And so there it is: My regimen of writing the column for almost 15 years, to my own astonishment, also has produced three English-usage books: English Plain and Simple (2004), Give Your English the Winning Edge (2009), and The 10 Most Annoying English Grammar Errors (2008). Then it gave rise in 2011 to an interactive online English-usage site, Jose Carillo’s English Forum, that has since become a home and repository of my columns and my interactions with its target audiences.

Looking back to the happy evolution and expansion of my columns into English-usage books and into an online forum, I thought of coming up with two more initiatives to further heighten the spirit, thrust, and goals of this effort to provide continuing lessons in English self-improvement.

The first initiative is to give the Forum a more current, more interactive, and more convenient entry point. Through its reformatted and easily accessible Gateway to Great English on Facebook (, the Forum now instantly provides running capsule introductions to its postings of English grammar critiques and general-interest readings, both current and old. This new interactive Facebook gateway keeps members updated 24/7 of new postings the very moment they are uploaded. 
The second is to pilot this January a special 2016 year-end offering—an online folio of six of what I consider my best personal essays of enduring significance, plus six intellectually stimulating general-interest readings featured in the Forum. The six personal essays exemplify the wide range of subjects and themes that I’ve written about in this column since 2002.

(All interested readers can directly access this special year-end folio of my essays by clicking this link: Alternatively, registered Forum members can go to the Forum homepage as usual and look for the link to the folio.)

The six personal essays featured in the folio are “Rediscovering John Galsworthy,” “How I Discovered Gabriel Garcia Marquez,” “Indignities in American Minor,” “The Roots of English,” “A World Without English,” and “The Evil That Ignorance and Incompetence Can Do.”

The six general-interest readings are “A Recovered Ancient Manuscript Changes the Course of Human Thought,” “A Great Teacher Shares Her Secrets To Persuasive, Compelling Writing,” “Antedated by 230 Years, A Poem’s Noble Thoughts Get Placed in Jeopardy,” “A Father’s Letter to His Son’s Teacher,” “A Taste of Vintage Mencken,” and “The Real Wonder is That Humans Ever Discovered Science at All.”

I’m confident that you’ll find all 12 essays in the special year-end folio not only very instructive about language and communication but very enjoyable as well.

This essay appeared in the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in The Manila Times in its January 7, 2017 issue, © 2017 by Manila Times Publishing. All rights reserved.

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