Newsletter and Grammar Coach
JUNE 2023 | Vol. 27, No. 6
Monthly information digest for EditPros clients and friends
EditPros LLC is commemorating 30 years in business.
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FEATURE: The meaning and symbolism underlying graduation terminology and regalia
BOOKSHELF: Top five reasons to self-publish your book with the help of BookPrep
GRAMMAR COACH: Fielding our readers’ questions
REFERRAL REWARD: Recommend a friend — and earn up to $500
June is often associated with two of the major transitions in life: wedding ceremonies and graduation from educational institutions. The ritual of graduation is accompanied by a vocabulary of specialized terms — including valedictorian, terminal degree, parchment, testamur, convocation, apostille — that are not commonly used in other contexts. Let’s clarify the meaning of these and other terms associated with graduation.
Graduate. The word “graduate” is derived from the Latin word “gradus,” meaning “a step.” Thus, graduation is a step upward or forward.
Diploma. The ancient Greek word for “paper folded double” gave rise to the term “diploma,” the name for a document presented in formal recognition of completing an academic degree program of study.
Testamur. Some institutions refer to a diploma as a testamur, a Latin word meaning “we are witnesses.” The pronunciation is teh-STAY-mer.
Matriculation. A student who enrolls in a college or university is said to have matriculated there. The word is not synonymous with graduation, but rather with admission. A student who has just matriculated has recently arrived, and has a long way to go. The word comes from the Latin verb “matriculare,” meaning “to register.”
Commencement exercises. Although the awarding of an academic degree comes at the conclusion of a prescribed curriculum of formal education, the ceremonial acknowledgment is known as a commencement because it symbolizes the beginning of the next phase of life — either the beginning of a career, or readiness to enter into a higher academic degree program. The actual degree conferral may or may not be done during the commencement program; some institutions allow students to walk in a commencement ceremony if they are within a few units of graduating and are on track to complete their studies with a passing grade soon.
Convocation. Derived from a Latin term meaning “to call together,” a convocation is a ceremony at a school or college within a large university. Students receive their diplomas at commencement ceremonies, while convocation ceremonies typically are more intimate and personal, and offer opportunity to recognize outstanding achievements of individual students.
Gowns. The tradition of graduation candidates dressing in gowns dates to the Middle Ages, when universities were established by churches at which clerical students were required to wear gowns. Bachelor’s degree gowns lack hoods or collars, and have flared, pointed sleeves. Gowns for both master’s and doctoral degrees have hoods. The sleeves of master’s degree gowns are nearly as long as the robe itself, closed at the ends with cutouts for the arms to emerge, while doctoral degree gowns are more elaborate, with velvet or colored bands on wrist-length, puffy sleeves.
Mortarboard. The flat, square mortarboard cap evolved from the pileus quadratus, a similar square cap worn in medieval times.
Tam. Graduates in master’s and doctoral programs may wear a soft velvet cap called a “tam” rather than a mortarboard. The name is an abbreviation of “tam-o’-shanter,” a traditional Scottish bonnet. The ceremonial graduation tam has a tassel, worn on the left side. Master’s degree candidates typically wear a four-or six-sided tam, while generally an eight-sided tam is appropriate for doctoral degree candidates and faculty members.
Bachelor’s degree. Back in the 14th century, young fellows undergoing training for knighthood were known as “knight bachelors.” They practiced not with swords but rather with sticks, the Latin term for which was “baculum.” The use of the term “bachelor’s” broadened to be applied to undergraduate degree programs. Baccalaureate programs broadly encompass either the humanities (bachelor of arts) or science and mathematics (bachelor of science).
Master’s degree. In medieval Europe, the title “magister” was conferred on university graduates to qualify them to teach at the university level. Over time, the meaning evolved to connote mastery of subject matter. A contemporary master’s degree program concentrates on a specific field.
Alma mater. Ancient Romans used the term “alma mater” (meaning “nurturing mother” or “bountiful mother”) in reference to certain goddesses, but by the 18th century people began using that Latin phrase to signify the educational institution that had nurtured their education during the time they attended. In modern usage, it can refer to high schools as well as to colleges. Many schools themselves have an alma mater: their official anthem. The term should be lowercased in all references, according to the Associated Press Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style, and dictionaries that we consulted.
Alumnus. In Latin, an alumnus is a foster son. The term came to be used by the 17th century in reference to school pupils and then more specifically to graduates of schools. “Alumnus” is the masculine singular form, the plural of which is “alumni.” A female graduate is an “alumna,” the plural of which is “alumnae.” The term “alumni” also is used to refer to group composed of male and female graduates.
Valedictorian. A valedictorian is, according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, “in schools and colleges, the student, usually the one highest in scholastic rank in the graduating class, who delivers the valedictory.” Well, of course, that leads us to “valedictory,” which is “a farewell speech, especially one delivered at a graduation ceremony.”
Salutatorian. Get ready: Webster’s New World says a salutatorian is “the student, usually second highest in scholastic rank in the graduating class, who gives the salutatory.” And that is: “an opening or welcoming address, especially at a school or college commencement exercise.”
CeDid. Many institutions now offer a Certified Electronic Diploma (CeDiploma) or CeCertificate, a verifiable PDF file, in addition to a traditional paper diploma. Each electronic diploma includes a unique 12-digit Certified Electronic Document Identifier (CeDiD) as a means of verifying the authenticity of an electronic diploma through an electronic validation service.
Apostille. University graduates who plan to work abroad may be required to verify the legitimacy of their diploma. They can obtain that authentication from an apostille service, but that’s useful only in countries that are members of the Hague Apostille Convention. An apostille is a legal certification that enables a document issued in one nation to become valid in other nations. Nations that are not a part of that organization require authentication from the U.S. Department of State.
Terminal degree. A terminal degree is the highest (last) degree that someone can earn in a particular field. In most fields that’s a doctoral degree, such as a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.), doctor of medicine (M.D.) and a doctor of education (Ed.D.). In some fields the terminal degree is a master’s degree, such as the master of fine arts (MFA), master of business administration (MBA), master of social work (MSW) or a master of library science (MLS).
Educational terminology has undergone lots of changes since the days of the knight bachelors. We tip our hats and toss our tassels to all new graduates.
The advent of digital print-on-demand technology in the 1990s created a seismic shift in the book publishing industry. Writers with a passion to have their work published were no longer at the mercy of literary agents and traditional publishers. New options were now at their disposal.
In response to the urging of aspiring authors seeking assistance in publishing their books, EditPros established the BookPrep service. During the seven years since, we have helped 38 writers publish 49 books in a wide range of genres, including memoirs, family and organizational histories, mystery novels, children’s tales, and books of spirituality, philosophy, scholarly lecture notes, and health guidance.
Each of those authors decided to self-publish their books for various reasons. You likely have your own reasons for contemplating self-publication. Here are five important reasons to consider.
5. TIME: Searching for a literary agent willing to accept your manuscript can take months or longer. Once you’re under exclusive contract with an agent, pitching your book proposal to publishers can take even longer. If and when a publisher agrees to take on your project, the publication process can take a year or more, during which time your manuscript will undergo heavy scrutiny and multiple revisions with which you may disagree. The process does not work well for authors who have a sense of urgency about publishing their work.
But when you self-publish through BookPrep, your project can make the leap from manuscript to published book within two to three months.
4. REJECTION: Writers seeking to publish their book through a traditional publisher must develop a thick skin and prepare for the disappointment associated with receiving rejection letters — if any response at all. Rejection can be demoralizing to the point of giving up.
But when you self-publish through BookPrep, no one is going to mail rejection letters to you. You set the standards, and you determine when your manuscript is ready for publication.
3. EDITORIAL CONTROL: When working with traditional publishers, new authors typically have little influence in objecting to changes that they oppose. They may not be consulted about graphic elements, the design of their book’s cover, its retail price — or even the title. Extensive mandated changes can make a writer feel that the work is no longer really theirs.
But when you self-publish through BookPrep, we offer suggestions, yet you can make your own determinations about typefaces, sizes, location of page numbers, chapter headings, decorative elements and cover design.
2. ROYALTIES. Traditional publishers typically pay writers royalties of only 8% to 10% of the cover price per book sold. The publisher reaps most of the revenue from copies sold.
But when you self-publish through BookPrep, you actually determine the amount of the royalty you wish to earn per book sold. You can earn dollars instead of dimes per sale. The calculation is a function of the difference between the manufacturing cost and the suggested retail price — which you choose.
1. RIGHTS. Traditional publishers require writers to sign over some or all of their intellectual property rights to the publisher. Such rights include film rights, audio transcription rights, English-language editions sold overseas, and foreign language translations. Once you sign the contract, the specified aspects of your creative work become the property of the publisher.
But when you self-publish through BookPrep, you retain all of your intellectual property rights for the work.
As part of the BookPrep package, EditPros professionally formats the cover and interior pages of each author’s book and readies it for print publication. The finished product can be made available commercially in both print and digital editions. EditPros formats and converts book files into e-book formats for sale through Amazon (Kindle), Apple (iBooks), Barnes & Noble (Nook), and Kobo, by means of submission to IngramSpark's e-book service.
Some writers working with BookPrep have intentionally restricted their books from sale to the public, but they are able to purchase as many copies as they want at the wholesale price, to give to family members and friends.
With BookPrep, authors retain all rights to their books, and collect 100 percent of sales royalties.
We invite you to LEARN MORE about the EditPros BookPrep service.
Jackie S. wrote:
Which is correct: Do I make an inquiry or an enquiry?
The grammar coach replies:
Jackie, the answer depends on where you are — and perhaps on the formality of the question being asked. The “enquire” spelling is used chiefly in the United Kingdom, where a distinction is drawn between that spelling and “inquire.” In the U.K, the “inquiry” spelling is associated with formal legal and academic investigations, while an “enquiry” is simply a question. The spellings “inquire” and “inquiry” are preferred in the United States for all uses, casual as well as formal probes.
The Chicago Manual of Style affirms that “The normal spellings in American English and British English alike are ‘inquire’ and ‘inquiry.’ ‘Enquire’ and ‘enquiry’ are primarily British English variants.”
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