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Month: October 2017

Top 10 Websites for Book Lovers

Top 10 Websites for Book Lovers

There is something magical about reading books. Whether you like fiction or non-fiction, fantasy or sci-fi, there are many books out there.

Still, it isn’t always easy to make a trip to the bookstore or library to find that specific book that you are looking for. If you find yourself itching for a new read, reviews, or discussion, here are 10 websites that every book lover should check out.

1. Goodreads

Goodreads is one of the best websites for booklovers that want to read the latest reviews, interviews, feedback, and plot discussion.

Look, most of us called R+L=J in “A Song of Ice and Fire.” All the clues were there, but if you didn’t, you could have easily have read that theory on Goodreads. Where are we going with this? You should use Goodreads if you want all the details about books, new and old, and want to discuss them with other likeminded individuals.

2. Project Gutenberg

Who doesn’t love free books? Project Gutenberg is the oldest and largest collections of free books on the Internet.

To date, it boasts well over 49,000 titles and it continues to grow each year. The project aims to publish all books that have surpassed their copyright dates.

The website even caters to audiobooks fans seeing as it has a large collection of them readily available.

3. Amazon

You might think this is a lame one to feature in a book lover’s list, but is it? Amazon completely changed the book market and made books more affordable and accessible.

Sure, Barnes & Noble had a warm vibe, but let’s not kid ourselves, they overcharged for their books.

There is something special about ordering a book and having it delivered to your doorstep in 1-2 days. It is because of this that Amazon has been featured on this list.

4. Whichbook

Whichbook won’t win any design awards, but it works. This website helps you choose what book to read next.

Users can interact with several personality sliders to help them decide what book they should read next. The sliders include happy and sad, funny and serious, safe, and disturbing, gentle and violent, and many others.

The website also offers other ways to help you screen news books.

If you ever find yourself struggling to pick your next book to read, let Whichbook help you choose.

5. ReadPrint

ReadPrint is a lot like the Project Gutenberg. It features a lot of free books that can be downloaded and accessed across all of your devices.

Topics include classics like Shakespeare all the way to science fiction.

6. Google Book Search

Google is considered the king of search. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they would be featured on a list that is designed to help you find book-friendly websites.

What makes Google Book Search neat is the fact that you can search for specific lines of text from a book and it will tell you various locations where you can buy it.

Google’s database also features free works like books, magazines, journals, and various e-books.

7. Indie Store Finder

Are you craving that small bookstore feel? Indie Store Finder is the perfect tool for any book lover that is located in the United States.

Simply plug in your zip code and Indie Store Finder will provide you with a list of all nearby independent book stores.

8. AddAll.com

Look, it’s perfectly fine to want to find the best price for the books you buy. Who wants to pay more, especially if you are buying a book that is mass produced?

AddAll.com lets you compare books across the various major book retailers, helping you find one that is close to you and cheap.

Users can search by title, shipping destination, price, and state.

9. Comics Alliance

Comic books count as books, alright? They have the word book in their name.

Jokes aside, the Comics Alliance is a great website for comic book lovers. It features the latest news, releases, opinions, merchandise, and much more.

Comics Alliance really is the be-all-end-all of comic books. You’ll never be out of the loop when it comes to comic books if you bookmark this website.

10. Book Cover Archive

While you should never judge a book by its cover, you can admire beautiful book covers for the art that they are.

In our fast-paced world, it is important to slow down and admire true artistic beauty. The Book Cover Archive features thousands of book covers organized categorically by title, subjects, authors, and several other unusual categories.

If you think we missed an important website, feel free to let us know below. We’d love to know what other websites exist out there for book lovers.

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5 Examples of Repetition and Redundancy

5 Examples of Repetition and Redundancy

In each of the following sentences, repetition of words or phrases or redundant use of similar terms is easily eliminated, as described in the explanations and shown in the revisions that follow each example.

1. This procedure is called an assay. An assay determines the purity of a precious metal.

The repetition in this sentence is suitable for aiding beginning readers in comprehension but is stilted and unsuitable for normal usage. Whenever a word or phrase ending a brief sentence is immediately or almost immediately repeated at the beginning of the next sentence, convert the two sentences to a single statement such as the one shown here: “This procedure, called an assay, determines the purity of a precious metal.” (If the first sentence is more extensive, revise otherwise to omit repetition of the term.)

2. We often refer to this type of test as purple-team testing. Organizations should utilize testing such as purple-team testing or similar activity to regularly test and refine their defensive posture.

In similar constructions in which a repeated word or phrase is not in proximity to the first instance, it is still often a simple matter to omit the repetition: “We often refer to this type of test as purple team testing. Organizations should utilize such testing or similar activity to regularly evaluate and refine their defensive posture.”

3. Pairing these two departments together creates critical mass to justify infrastructure investments.

If the definition of a word implicitly includes a key word or phrase that also appears in the pertinent passage, omit the repetition. In this case, pairing means “bringing together,” so the inclusion of together creates a redundancy: “Pairing these two departments creates critical mass to justify infrastructure investments.”

4. Implement steps to measure the success of your data analytics efforts, and also consider the most effective ways to report success and value to management and other key stakeholders.

Also is redundant when it immediately follows and: “Implement steps to measure the success of your data analytics efforts, and consider the most effective ways to report success and value to management and other key stakeholders.”

5. The personal information available in medical records can be used to perform any number of identity-theft tactics for some form of financial gain (e.g., obtaining credit, filing tax returns, etc.).

The Latin-derived abbreviations for “for example” and “and so on” are redundant; delete one or the other: “The personal information available in medical records can be used to perform any number of identity-theft tactics for some form of financial gain (e.g., obtaining credit or filing tax returns)” or “The personal information available in medical records can be used to perform any number of identity-theft tactics for some form of financial gain (obtaining credit, filing tax returns, etc.).” (Note, however, that i.e. means “that is” and, unlike e.g., is not redundant to etc.)

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Tradition and Treason

Tradition and Treason

Curiously, a word referring to the handing down of beliefs and customs and one pertaining to a breakdown in fidelity to a political system, which is based on beliefs and customs, though they are not antonyms, have a common etymology. This post discusses these words and several others with the same ancestor.

The words listed below all derived from tradere, a Latin verb meaning “deliver” or “hand over.” That word, in turn, stems from a combination of the Latin preposition trans, meaning “over” (seen in words such as transfer and transport) and the Latin verb dare, meaning “do.” Interestingly, however, though to trade is to deliver or hand over (in return for something else), the English word trade is not related; its origin is the Germanic trade, meaning “course” or “track” and cognate with tread. (Likewise, the English verb and noun dare is from Old English, not Latin.)

Tradition comes from traditionem, referring to an act of delivery or handing over; the adjectival and adverbial forms are traditional and traditionally. (Trad occasionally appears as a slang abbreviation of traditional.) Adherence to tradition is called traditionalism, and one who advocates that philosophy is a traditionalist. Extradition, meanwhile, refers to handing over, as when the authorities in one country deliver a fugitive to those in the country in which he or she committed a crime; the verb is extradite.

This fugitive may very well be a traitor to the country to which he or she is being extradited. Traitor, from the Latin noun traditor by way of French, means “one who delivers,” originally in the sense of information injurious to one nation and beneficial to an antagonistic country. By extension, one who merely betrays another’s trust may be branded a traitor. The act of betrayal is called treason, and the adjectival form is treasonous (and, less often, treasonable, with the adverbial form treasonably); however, treasonously is not employed as an adverb. (Treachery and its similarly inflected adjectival and adverbial forms is a similar-looking but unrelated synonym.)

Speaking of betray, that word’s root stems from tradere as well. (An act of unfaithfulness is betrayal, and the actor is a betrayer.)

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Proper Parallel Construction of Sentences with “Not,” “Neither,” and “No Longer”

Proper Parallel Construction of Sentences with “Not,” “Neither,” and “No Longer”

When writing sentences in which a comparison is made with not, neither, or “no longer” as the focus of the contrast, be vigilant about achieving logical parallel structure, as discussed and demonstrated in the explanations about and revisions to the following examples.

1. Becoming a better parent is not about becoming a different person, but doing what it takes to do less of the behavior that is not true to who you are.

When the contrasting word or phrase (in this case, not) is associated with the preposition about, which is often the case, if not precedes about at the beginning of a point, about must be repeated at the beginning of the counterpoint: “Becoming a better parent is not about becoming a different person but about doing what it takes to do less of the behavior that is not true to who you are” (a “not about [this] but about [that]” construction). Alternatively, precede not with about for a “about not (this) but (that)” construction: “Becoming a better parent is about not becoming a different person, but doing what it takes to do less of the behavior that is not true to who you are.”

2. This publication is neither intended to be a legal analysis nor a detailed cookbook of steps to take in every situation.

In a neither/nor construction such as this one, when the key verb (here, intended) applies to nor as well as to neither, the word must precede the first word as well as the second: “This publication is intended to be neither a legal analysis nor a detailed cookbook of steps to take in every situation.” Alternatively, revise the sentence to hinge on not and or rather than neither and nor: “This publication is not intended to be a legal analysis or a detailed cookbook of steps to take in every situation.”

3. Compliance is no longer viewed primarily as a legal risk to be avoided, but rather an operational one to be monitored.

Similarly, when employing “no longer” to compare a previous state with a current one, make sure that the verb or verb phrase before “no longer” is located so that the verb applies both to that phrase and to the concluding part of the sentence describing the current state: “Compliance is primarily viewed no longer as a legal risk to be avoided, but rather as an operational one to be monitored.” Alternatively, convert the second half of the sentence to an independent clause by inserting a verb: “Compliance is no longer viewed primarily as a legal risk to be avoided; rather, it is an operational one to be monitored.”

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Zero and Its Synonyms

Zero and Its Synonyms

The word zero has a small but distinctive set of synonyms, which are listed in this post.

Zero is the word for the symbol 0, representing the absence of magnitude or quantity and the value between positive and negative numbers. The word also represents the lowest point or the starting point for measurement or, as in the phrase “ground zero,” a point of impact or origin. In addition, it refers to absence or impartiality, or to the lowest possible score on a test, and as slang it describes a worthless person or one with little or no discernible charm or personality.

The word ultimately derives, like many arithmetical and scientific terms, from Arabic, in this case sifr, which means “zero” or “empty” and is also the source of the synonym cipher. Meanwhile, cipher itself, while also occasionally expressing the numerical symbol, describes a nonentity, with the connotation that a person so identified has no influence or no distinguishing characteristics, as in a reference to someone mysteriously vague. This sense of mystery extends to the sense for cipher of a method of encoding information, or a coded message itself. A cipher may also be a combination of letters used symbolically, similar to a monogram.

Aught and naught, discussed in more detail in this post, are also synonyms of zero (as is nought, a variant of the latter word), but briefly, aught is employed usually when referring to the first decade of a century (in which the tens place of any given year is represented by a zero) or to a zero used in decimal measurement. Naught, however, is used in the sense of “nothing.”

Nothing itself, as might be guessed, literally means “no thing” and stems from Old English. In addition to pertaining to a lack of quantity, nothing alludes to nonexistence and is used, like zero, to suggest that someone is worthless. However, it also, in plural form, refers to playful remarks, especially, as part of “sweet nothings,” in a romantic context. It is also employed, though rarely, as an adjective or adverb.

Nil, a contraction of the Latin word nihil (the root of nihilism, the word for a philosophy of renunciation of traditional ideas or morals), is ultimately from nihilum, literally “not (even) a trifle,” and generally alludes to a comparison, such as a sports score or to the distinction, or lack thereof, between two like objects, or to (a lack of) probability; one’s chances of achieving an impossible result, for example, are said to be nil.

Zilch and zip, both of obscure origin, are slang synonyms for zero. The letter o and the word oh are also, because of the resemblance of the letter to the symbol for zero, used informally in speech and rarely in writing to refer to the symbol, as is “goose egg,” from the similarity in shape between that object and the symbol. (On a related note, the use of love to indicate a zero score in tennis is said to originate in the phrase l’oeuf, French for “the egg,” though this etymology is disputed.)

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Take a Stand for Language Standards

Take a Stand for Language Standards

English usage is always evolving, but the rate of evolution seems to accelerate all the time, and careful observers will note in a wide variety of content pervasive examples of the relaxation of standards for written English. This post discusses several categories in which it appears that even professional writers often seem unaware of basic precepts of good writing.

As discussed in previous posts, the velocity of change in what is considered acceptable written English has sped up thanks to the proliferation of media resources available to the average person and the dynamics of the publishing industry. Because of the explosive increase in content produced by poorly trained writers (amateurs and professionals alike) and the decrease in rigorous editing, substandard writing spreads unchecked, with the following results.

Writers often, out of ignorance and/or apathy, close compound words that are treated as open and hyphenated in dictionaries and other writer resources, so that, for instance, we increasingly see “life span” styled as lifespan and “time frame” written as timeframe, and mind-set and light-year appear, respectively, as mindset and lightyear. This process has occurred for hundreds of years as a natural progression, but we appear to be in the midst of multiple evolutions occurring simultaneously.

In a similar case, “all right” frequently appears as alright. It has done so since the mid-nineteenth century, but what’s new is that it is now creeping over from lay writing such as personal blogs to professionally produced content such as online newspapers.

Amateur and professional writers alike are also increasingly failing to observe two types of distinctions between essential and nonessential phrases. First, for example, is the error seen in identifications of people such as the one in “Company president, John Smith, was also named in the suit.” The mistaken use of internal punctuation, due to the confusion of the simple job description “company president” with the appositive “the company president,” which would require the name to be set off from the descriptor because that phrase and the name are interchangeable (while “company president” and “John Smith” are not), is nothing new but is becoming commonplace in professionally produced content.

As an example of the second type of essential/nonessential confusion, the following sentence is flawed because it implies that more than one Emergency Alerts system exists, and the one in question, unlike one or more others, can send alerts about catastrophic events: “The agency sent the alert through the national Emergency Alerts system that can send alerts about catastrophic events.” The following revision correctly observes that “can send alerts about catastrophic events” describes the system’s function rather than explains the specific function of one type of system (which is the point of the sentence): “The agency sent the alert through the national Emergency Alerts system, which can send alerts about catastrophic events.”

That type of error, published on the website of a metropolitan newspaper, unlike the others noted above, is a cardinal sin rather than a venial one because it doesn’t just “look wrong”; it affects clarity and comprehension.

I’m well aware that observations such as these can make me sound like a get-off-my-lawn geezer, but this is my point: Such shifts in our language are inevitable, but as a treasure hunter tells intrepid teenage Indiana Jones when the latter fails to prevent an artifact from being sold on the black market, “You lost today, kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.” That is not to say I don’t “like it,” that I don’t approve of language evolution (which is just as futile as not approving the sun going down or the tide coming in), but what I don’t like is a failure to respect and observe current standards. Just as we agree that certain letters, numbers, and other symbols represent various sounds, quantities, and functions, we should agree on precepts of grammar, syntax, usage, and punctuation.

As a professional editor and writer, it is my responsibility to help preserve the language as it is now, according to standards codified in numerous writing and editing guides and other resources, and not anticipate revisions that will appear in future editions, and I recommend that you do so, too.

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Visions and Visits

Visions and Visits

Vision and visit both pertain to seeing something, and that’s no coincidence, because they are cognates, both stemming from the Latin verb videre, meaning “see.” A discussion of the words, their variations, and some related terms follows.

The word vision describes the literal ability to see and the figurative sense of something conjured by the imagination as if it is seen or even merely contemplated (the original connotation), as well as the act or power of seeing or imagination. In addition, the word refers to the quality of discernment or foresight, a sense that arose only about a century ago. A vision is also something seen, including a particularly charming or lovely person, place, or thing. Little-used adjectival and adverbial forms are visional and visionally.

Someone with discernment or foresight is called a visionary. Other words in the vision family include envision, a verb meaning “picture.” Something that can be seen is visible (the adverbial form is visibly), and the quality of being able to be seen, whether on a practical level or in the sense of celebrity, is visibility; the antonym is invisibility.

The adjective visual refers to the faculty or process of sight, and the adverbial form is visually. Visualize is the verb form, and something visualized is a visualization. (The British English spellings are visualise and visualisation.) Something that does not involve sight is nonvisual.

Related compounds are television (a compound of the Greek word tele, meaning “far off,” and vision), audiovisual (an adjective referring to technology that enables sight and sound), and proper nouns such as VistaVision, the brand name of an obsolete form of wide-screen cinematography.

Several words referring to the face include the syllable vis, which stems from videre and refers to one’s appearance or face, including visage, a noun that is a synonym for “face,” and visor, originally a reference to the part of a helmet covering the entire head that protects the eyes (and later to an eyeshade). Envisage is a synonym for envision. (A related term is the adopted French term vis-à-vis, meaning “face to face,” which in English is a preposition meaning “face to face with” or “in relation to” or “compared with.” Less commonly, it is a noun referring to a counterpart or a person one is on a date with, or an intimate conversation, as well as an adverb meaning “together.”)

Visit began as a verb describing someone attending on another to benefit or comfort and later came to refer to one or more people paying a call to one or more others, as well as the sense of afflicting or coming on to (as in the biblical verse “The sins of the fathers are visited on the sons”). Later, it became a noun describing the instance of paying a call. One who visits is a visitor (the term, for example, refers to members of a sports team coming from somewhere else to compete with the home team), and a visitation is an instance of an official visit (or is an adjective referring to such a visit). Visit, visitor, and visitation also have a connotation of an examination or inspection of a place of religion. To revisit is to consider something a second time; it is generally not used to mean literally “visit again.”

The verb advise and the noun advice, referring to recommendations given, ultimately derive from videre by way of the Old French term avis, meaning “idea,” “judgment,” or “view.” Advisory is the adjectival form as well as a noun referring to a report that gives advice or suggests a course of action. (Despite that spelling, adviser is favored over advisor to describe someone who does so.)

To supervise is literally to look over, to manage or monitor an area or a procedure; the act of doing so is supervision and the actor is a supervisor, and the adjectival form is supervisory. Meanwhile, revise means “look again” and refers to changing something—generally, something written—that one (or someone else) has produced; the adjective is revised, and the noun for the act is revision. (There is no direct actor noun, although one might be referred to as a reviewer.)

To improvise is to do something unprepared or to make something using available resources; the act is improvisation.

Words from other languages that stem from videre include visa, from the Modern Latin phrase charta visa, which literally means “paper that has been seen” and refers to a document or to a sticker or stamp in a passport that confirms authorization to visit a foreign country, and vista, from the Italian word for “sight” or “view,” which refers to a prospect or a view of a landscape or seascape.

A subsequent post will discuss words stemming from videre that do not include the element vis.

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Vocabulary Quiz #10: Commonly Confused Words

Vocabulary Quiz #10: Commonly Confused Words

In each sentence, choose the correct word from the pair of similar terms. (If both words possibly can be correct, choose the more plausible one.)

1. The roll-top desk was made by an exceptionally skilled ________.
a) artist
b) artisan

2. Drink, drank, (have) drunk are the ________ parts of the verb “to drink.”
a) principal
b) principle

3. Pliny the _______ died in the eruption of Vesuvius.
a) older
b) Elder

4. Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a _______.
a) dual
b) duel

5. I saw the detective ________ his fists, but he refrained from striking the suspect.
a) clinch
b) clench

Answers and Explanations

1. The roll-top desk was made by an exceptionally skilled artisan.
b) artisan

An artisan is a worker in a skilled trade. An artist practices a creative art such as painting, sculpting, or writing.

2. Drink, drank, (have) drunk are the principal parts of the verb “to drink.”
a) principal

As an adjective, principal means “first in order of importance.” Principle is a noun that means “a fundamental truth,” or “a rule or a belief that governs one’s behavior.”

3. Pliny the Elder died in the eruption of Vesuvius.
b) Elder

As an adjective, elder is sometimes interchangeable with older, as in “Jane is Sally’s elder sister.” Capitalized, Elder is used to distinguish between two family members of different generations, as in Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger.

4. Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
b) duel

Used historically, a duel is a ritualized killing contest between two men armed with deadly weapons. Dual is an adjective meaning “consisting of two parts.”

5. I saw the detective clench his fists, but he refrained from striking the suspect.
b) clench

When speaking of ones’ fingers, clench means to make a fist. One can also clench other body parts. To clench one’s teeth is to press them closely together. Clinch means to embrace or grapple at close quarters.

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Political Terms Dominate New Dictionary Entries

Political Terms Dominate New Dictionary Entries

Dictionary.com’s newest set of entries to its lexicon, and some revised definitions for existing terms, reflect the politically themed discourse that has dominated the media over the past year. This post shares and defines some of those terms.

Alt-right, discussed in this DailyWritingTips.com post, is not new to Dictionary.com, but its definition has been extended to clarify that the central tenets of those who espouse extreme right wing ideology are white nationalism and anti-Semitism. Similarly, though far is of course not a new listing, its definition now alludes to the sense of extreme political views when it appears in combination with left and right. Meanwhile, the existing entry for alt refers to the abbreviation’s usage in alt-right, and the one for “white nationalism” makes a distinction, based on geopolitical focus, between that phrase and “white supremacy.”

The phrase “fake news” has its own new entry, describing the term as pertaining to sensationalized false journalistic content that serves to boost ad revenue and/or discredit an entity that is the subject of the content. An entry surprising for its late appearance is “false flag,” which has long referred to the use by marine vessels of a flag of a country the ship doesn’t represent in order to deceive personnel on an enemy vessel.

By extension, the term now alludes to events in which a country attacks its own territory or assets and blames the attack on a belligerent nation (or an entity such as a terrorist organization), or to similar operations carried out in civilian contexts, as when a group or individual frames another for a violent act the first group or individual secretly committed in order to discredit the other party.

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How to Treat Complex Phrasal Adjectives

How to Treat Complex Phrasal Adjectives

Numerous DailyWritingTips.com posts have addressed hyphenation of phrasal adjectives such as “long range” when they precede a noun, as in “long-range missile.” But what about when the phrasal adjective includes more than two words? As this post explains, it depends on the interrelationships of those words.

The simplest multiword phrasal adjective to construct is one in which a phrase such as “all or nothing” modifies a noun—simply hyphenate the string of words: “all-or-nothing ultimatum.” This rule holds true no matter how long the string is, though at a certain point, the writer or editor may decide that it is of a cumbersome length, in which case omitting hyphens and enclosing the string in quotation marks to suggest that the phrasal adjective is spoken will render it more readable, or recasting the sentence may improve clarity.

But what if two of the words are already an open or hyphenated compound—a standing phrase that appears in the dictionary as such—or is a proper noun? In either case, the solution is to replace the hyphens linking every word with an en dash (–) linking the compound to an additional word. (An en dash is a symbol usually seen in number ranges, as in “The room accommodates 25–50 people depending on seating arrangement” or “Jones lived 1911–1987.”)

This usage is clear when employed with proper nouns, as in “San Francisco­–based company” (as opposed to the absurd alternative “San-Francisco-based company”), where based obviously relates to “San Francisco,” not just Francisco, but it is also used in such constructions as “open standards–based solutions,” where “open standards” is a well-known phrase.

The risk in such usage is that readers will not recognize that the en dash is distinct from a hyphen and will (mis)understand the phrase to mean “standards-based solutions that are open.” This risk is exacerbated by the fact that the Associated Press Style Book, in its sometimes-misguided quest to simplify symbols, calls for a hyphen rather than an en dash in phrases like this, which could lead to such confusion.

Another option is to use the hyphen-string approach in such phrases as “think-tank-inspired policies” (instead of “think tank–inspired policies”) or “soft-drink-soaked shirt” (rather than “soft drink–soaked shirt”), but better yet, try the more relaxed syntax presented, for example, in “policies inspired by think tanks” and “shirt soaked with a soft drink.”

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