Mark Memmott

There have been a few occasions recently where some listeners thought it sounded like we were using the phrase "catch and release" as if it's a neutral description of what happens to some people who have entered the country illegally.

But any phrase that compares something done to human beings to something done to animals is not neutral. It is phrasing meant to frame the debate.

Debunking falsehoods has long been among our standard practices. As we've said:

When There's No Evidence To Support A Claim, We Should Say That

You've hopefully heard about the meetings we've been having regarding the mistakes we've been making. If you haven't been to one of the discussions yet, watch for an invitation.

As has been said many times at the sessions so far, it's important upfront to acknowledge that we're doing more good work — but without more good people. Almost everyone is stretched. Thanks are in order for all that you do.

But, then there's this: We've posted about 100 corrections a month this year.

Adding to our earlier guidance, here's a helpful link courtesy of Nell Greenfieldboyce.

Tips from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

https://chapterland.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2018/06/13763_TopTenNotes_Reporting_on_Suicide_Flyer_m1.pdf

Listening and reading from home the past few days, it was good to hear and see that we've treated mentions of "Spygate" as they should be — sparingly, in quotes and with attribution. We've made clear that it's a label being used by one side to try to frame a debate.

There are, of course, other reasons to resist simply starting to call something a "gate."

First, it's a cliché. We fight clichés like there's no tomorrow.

It sounds simple: When you put an interpreter's voice over the sound of a non-English speaker, "you never want the translation to be at odds with the original actuality," Jonathan Kern writes in Sound Reporting.

In practice, we sometimes slip. Either we don't start the clip at quite the right place or the interpretation isn't as true to what's been said as it should be.

People who speak the language will notice if things aren't lining up correctly. Then they'll question the accuracy of the rest of a story.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

For several years now, the emails have shown up within hours — sometimes within minutes — after NPR posts or broadcasts news about one Southeast Asian nation.

They would say something such as this:

Please stop telling us Myanmar is "also known as Burma." We get it!

There's been a "mass exodus of Syrians," one of NPR.org's headlines declared earlier this month.

President Obama said in August that the U.S. should boost domestic energy production and rely less on "foreign imports."

How much, if any, of the shocking sights and sounds should newsrooms report when two people are murdered on live television and the video whips around the world on the Web?

Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two local TV journalists, were gunned down while on the air Wednesday. They were near Roanoke, Va., interviewing local Chamber of Commerce official Vicki Gardner about tourism. Gardner was seriously injured.

Editor's note: The headline on this post tips our hand. But just to be clear, we're discussing language that some readers don't want to hear or read, even when it's bleeped or not spelled out.

This question came up in the newsroom: Should an NPR journalist say during a podcast that someone's an a****** if many people would agree that person is an a******?

The question wasn't about a real person. It was about someone who would bet against his favorite team or would bet that his lover would say "no" to a marriage proposal.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It's Independence Day. Let's take a break from parades, patriotic songs and pyrotechnics to think about the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

If you think the English language is going to hell in a handbag, you won't be happy as a clown after you're done reading this post.

On Saturday, we asked folks to send us examples of the "eggcorns" they love or hate. An eggcorn, as we reported and as Merriam-Webster puts it, is "a word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase."

Please pause if you're about to tell us our headline should say "spread like wildfire."

We intentionally slipped an eggcorn into that line — something we couldn't have done a week ago because, frankly, we'd never heard of eggcorns.

But thanks to Merriam-Webster, which included eggcorn among the more than 1,700 words added to its dictionary this past week, we learned that it is:

As NPR and other news outlets report about the hundreds of people killed this month when the ship they were on went down off the Libyan coast, the stories are referring to those who died as "migrants."

As NPR reports about the crash of a Germanwings passenger jet and the deaths of all 150 people on board, one of the words editors are weighing carefully is "suicide."

Investigators have said they believe co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew the plane into a mountain in the French Alps.

Eight months after a notorious group of fighters in Iraq and Syria became regular characters in the news, NPR still begins most of its reports with words such as these:

-- "Self-declared Islamic State."

-- "Self-proclaimed Islamic State."

-- "The group that calls itself the Islamic State."

Wednesday's attack at the Paris office of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo is thought to have been the work of killers who believe cartoons can be so offensive that they justified the murder of 12 people.

News organizations and people around the world obviously believe the opposite — that no one deserves to die just because he's rude, crude or otherwise obnoxious. Free speech includes the right to be offensive.

We asked for nominations for "most misused word or phrase," and they came pouring in. Weekend Edition listeners and NPR.org readers have many gripes about the grammar gaffes they see and hear every day.

From nearly 450 story comments, 500 emails and more than 900 Facebook posts we received in December, we identified 275 separate nominees. Here's a top 10 countdown of the most frequently mentioned:

You're ready to check out at the supermarket. There are only eight items in your cart, so you look for the express lane.

The sign above says "10 items or less."

Do you:

-- Head for the register without a second thought?

-- Rue the decline of the English language because you were taught that the sign should say "10 items or fewer?"

The Two-Way is just shy of its fifth anniversary, on May 13.

This blogger has written just over 9,700 posts for NPR — almost 9,500 of them for The Two-Way.

It seems like a good time to move on.

Next week, I'll be on vacation. When I return to work May 5, I'll be taking on the duties of "standards and practices" editor at NPR and no longer blogging for The Two-Way.

According to our ethics handbook:

The biggest sports story of the week for millions of football (soccer) fans around the world was the sacking of David Moyes as manager of England's Manchester United, one of the two most valuable sports franchises on the planet.

The news Friday from the site of South Korea's ferry disaster includes word that:

-- "At least 185 passengers had been confirmed dead, with 117 others still missing." (Yonhap News)

Saying that "the tense geopolitical situation between Russia and Ukraine" could accelerate the already heavy flow of money coming out of Russia, Standard & Poor's on Friday cut that nation's credit rating to just above "junk" level.

What's more, S&P says it doesn't expect things to improve anytime soon:

In case you missed it, much is being made of what happened Thursday at the White House when a 10-year-old girl stepped forward at a take-your-children-to-work event with first lady Michelle Obama to say:

"My dad's been out of a job for three years and I wanted to give you his résumé."

High up on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest, fresh ice avalanches on Friday made it "almost certain that no one will summit the world's highest mountain from Nepal during this year's climbing season," Reuters writes.

The crisis in Ukraine showed no signs of cooling Friday. Harsh rhetoric was flying:

-- "Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk accused Russia on Friday of wanting to start World War III by occupying Ukraine 'militarily and politically,' " Reuters reports.

The Vatican on Thursday sought to tamp down speculation that Pope Francis wants to reverse church teachings and allow divorced and remarried Catholics and their spouses to take Communion.

One day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was calling off his side's participation in the next session of peace talks with Palestinian leaders, Israel's Cabinet has endorsed that decision and "unanimously decided to cut off contacts," The Associated Press writes.

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