Feng Shui by Clear Englebert

Feng Shui, Language, Grammar, and Usage

Feng Shui, Language, Grammar, and Usage

I’m dropping the phrase “master bedroom” and using instead “main bedroom.” Being a pro-feminist and being from Alabama, I’ve always felt funny using the term “master.” Nobody had to explain to me that it was racist and sexist. What used to be called the “master bathroom”—I’ll refer to as the “spouses’ bathroom” or the “couples’ bathroom.”

I’ve never let people call me a feng shui “master,” partially for the same reason and partially because I’m not yet 80 years old. The way I learned feng shui is that the term “master” (in the sense that someone has mastered a craft) should never be applied to anyone under 80 years old. (It’s about experience.) I ask people who introduce me to refer to me as a feng shui consultant, teacher, and author—that seems plenty to me.

Since I’m on the subject of language, there are three wonderful books about written language that are fairly recent and deserve widespread readership: Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer, The Book and Shady Characters both by Keith Houston. Dreyer’s English is the best book there is on grammar and usage—period! It is so entertaining and so right on. I’m going to use an overused phrase that I generally try not to use—“trust me” you will thoroughly enjoy this sharp and witty book.

Shady Characters is about punctuation—the history of punctuation, which turns out to be terrifically interesting. The Book is subtitled A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time. It’s an absolutely beautiful book—matte ivory paper with frequent color pictures—almost no publisher does that. It’s exquisite to read, both in form and content.

Both of the Houston books use red ink throughout on the dingbats (and every page has at least one of these decorative designs at the top) and on the enlarged first letter of the beginning of a section. That use of red ink gives the books a super-deluxe look. Shady Characters uses red ink even more liberally, and to great advantage—it just feels intelligent to look at. In it, the publisher used the kind of paper that’s now common in books—ultra-white. It’s easy to recognize because the area of the open pages near the spine (I think it might be called the gutter) seems to glow white, something that I’ve never appreciated because I find it distracting.

Article Comments

  1. Art of Color

    August 27, 2020 4:35 pm Reply

    Thought-proving post. though I do think it’s overly sensitive these days to get propose that that commonly used words are exclusively negative. “Master” means, as in Master class, “having or showing very great skill or proficiency.”

    • clearenglebert

      August 27, 2020 4:41 pm Reply

      Thank you for your comments. I’m not sure what your second sentence means. I agree that when the word “master” means proficiency or great skill it’s fine to use it. But that’s certainly not the meaning in “master bedroom”.

  2. Barbara

    August 27, 2020 5:35 pm Reply

    My sister and I are looking to buy a home together. We’re using “largest bedroom” and “adjoining bath”in our descriptions since we are neither couples nor spouses.

  3. clearenglebert

    August 27, 2020 7:22 pm Reply

    That is superb—you can’t get much clearer than that.

  4. Stacy

    December 7, 2020 4:44 pm Reply

    I love this, in my new home I will retire to the “Owner’s Quarters”.
    I’m taking my Certification now.

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