Manslaughter vs. Murder: Differences In Intent And Degree (a clear explanation from

How can a person cause the death of another without the act being considered a murder? In US law, it can come down to differences between manslaughter and murder—which comes down to differences in intent and degree.

What does manslaughter mean?

Manslaughter, simply defined, is “the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought.” US law designates two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. Let’s break these two terms down.

Voluntary manslaughter vs. involuntary manslaughter 

Voluntary manslaughter can refer to when the accused kills a person, but is deemed to have been provoked by the victim, as during the “heat of passion” during an altercation.

Involuntary manslaughter
 generally applies where death is the unintentional (involuntary) consequence of the actions of the accused. Reckless driving, as while texting or after drinking, for instance, can result in the death of other people, but the driver didn’t first set out on the road with deliberate intent to harm them—and so may be considered involuntary manslaughter.

How is murder defined?

Murder is “the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law.” US law also distinguishes between two major types, or degrees, of murder: first-degree (murder one) and second-degree (murder two). 

First-degree murder vs. second-degree murder

First-degree murder involves the planning (premeditation) of the act or killing that happens when another crime is being committed (e.g., robberyarson).

Second-degree murder involves the intent to murder someone, but the murder didn’t take place with deliberation or premeditation beforehand. Let’s say someone got into a major verbal fight with a neighbor and got so angry, they grabbed a gun and shot the person dead. This incident involves intent to kill but not as a result of planning the murder ahead of time.

What is third-degree murder?

Three states—Florida, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania—currently further divide murders into a third degree. The laws vary, but third-degree murder in these states can include felony murders (a killing treated as a murder because, though unintended, it occurred during the commission or attempted commission of a felony, as robbery); most states classify felony murders as first-degree murders. Third-degree murders can also be homicides that occur as a result to indifference to human life (sometimes referred to as depraved-heart murders).

Fun Friday – Karen

Karen – we seem to hear it more and more, and usually (but not always), it’s meant to be funny. Karen is a mocking slang term for an entitled, obnoxious, middle-aged white woman. Especially as featured in memes, Karen is generally stereotyped as having a blonde bob haircut, asking to speak to retail and restaurant managers to voice complaints or make demands.

Karen joins a trend on the internet in the 2010s of using a first name to make fun of certain kinds of people. A Becky, for example, is a stereotype for a “basic” young, white woman, while a Chad, in other corners of the internet, stands in for a cocky, young “dudebro.”

But, why the name Karen? One suggestion is that it comes from a 2007 bit by Dane Cook called “The Friend Nobody Likes.” (The friend was named Karen.)  Another explanation is that it comes from a similar character Karen in the 2004 film Mean Girls.

The character was further developed in December 2017 thanks to a subreddit dedicated to mocking the imagined Karen. Tropes that developed about Karen here were that she is an annoying (and always annoyed) middle-aged, suburban, minivan-driving white, divorced mother of poorly behaved boys (of whom she has custody) who has a so-called “speak to the manager” haircut. (adapted from

Check us out at We are happy to help with your editing and translation needs. We are NOT Karens!!

Victoria Day in Canada

Today (May 18) in Canada is celebrated as Victoria Day. Strangely, it is celebrated only in Canada and Scotland, and to many it means summer is coming soon (not a small thing in Canada and Scotland!). But why do we celebrate the British queen on May 18 when she was born on May 24?

The British monarch was born on May 24, 1819, and she reigned for over 63 years. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, Canada’s parliament officially named the holiday Victoria Day. The Canadian government decided her birthday would be celebrated on a Monday, It would be observed on May 24th if that worked out, otherwise, it would be held on the Monday immediately before it. 

Weird Word Wednesday – Expatiate

Expatiate means ‘to enlarge in discourse or writing; be copious in description or discussion.’ For example, to expatiate upon a theme. The verb comes from the Latin expatiatus ‘to move, run, or flow away beyond bounds, spread out.”, and even further back, it comes from the Latin spatiari ‘to walk about leisurely, stroll.’. You can probably see the root word of ‘space’ here, because the root of spatiari is spatium, or ‘an explanse of ground, area, or space. Expatiate, although new to me, has been around in English since the 16th century.

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Fun Friday – British Slang

The British and the North Americans: two people, as it’s said, separated by a common language. Particularly when it comes to slang. Here, the difference is considerable.

Just for fun today (it’s a new, warmer month, after all!) here’s a few slang terms from the United Kingdom – many of them in use in Ireland, Australia, and other English places.

Chuffed – British slang for “very pleased.”Chuffed may come from an old word, chuff, meaning “puffed up with fat,” heard as slang as early as the 1860s to mean a sense of satisfaction. Readers of Victorian literature, beware: In the 1800s, chuffed also meant the exact opposite: “displeased.”

Bants – Wherever your best friends, are, ‘bants’ is a shortened form of ‘banter’. Bants is good-humored, friendly teasing between friends, and it can be loads of fun.

Dodgy – meaning ‘a bit risky’, this informal expression is found in the 19th-century, from dodge, or “evade,” as in someone dodging an answer with a less-than-honest answer. And so, dodgy takes on senses of “dishonest,” “dangerous,” or “low-quality” in British slang.  One memorable example comes from the 2003 film Love Actually, when the character Natalie says she lives in “the dodgy end” of Wandsworth, or the less desirable part of that London borough.

Cheeky Nando’s – having a cheeky Nando’s means popping in for a bite at the popular London chicken restaurant, Nando’s, perhaps with your mates after you’ve had a couple of pints and are having a good time. The ‘cheeky’ part is slang for “indulgent” or “impulsive,” especially with food and drink, coming from the late 1980’s.

Laldy and yaldi – the UK isn’t just British, it’s also Scottish, and the Scots have countless, wonderful expressions all their own. Like the term laldy, literally “a beating, a thrashing.” In Scottish slang, to give it laldy is to “do something with lots of energy and gusto.” It’s particularly associated with singing your heart out—perhaps after you’ve downed some cheeky pints. According to a 2015 article in The Scotsman, the newer slang word yaldi, which is used to express excitement, possibly comes from a mispronunciation of laldyYaldi!

That was fun! I think we’ll have to find some more UK slang – got any? Right now, all I want is Nando’s…

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Muddled Word Monday – Stolid and Solid

Solid and stolid and two easily-confused words, but they are quite different. Solid we understand and use frequently. Stolid, on the other hand, is not used often, and means ‘not easily stirred or moved mentally; unemotional; impassive’, and it can refer to things like architecture (“Stolid and somber, these are buildings are made to be admired, not loved.”) or a person or people. It is here that the negative impression of the word comes in; when speaking of people, stolid often takes on these meanings: ‘impassive, blunt, bovine, dense, dry, dull, dumb, heavy, inert, lumpish, obtuse, stoic, and unemotional’. Not something I want people saying about me (although I may know one or two people who fit the description)! It first entered English in 1590–1600, and is from the Latin word stolidus meaning inert, dull, stupid.

Emotion brings colour and excitement and drives the needed point home. Let us help you make your writing exciting!

Weird Word Wednesday – Kitsch

Here’s one of my favourite words – I love things that are ‘kitschy’, if only because they are different, a bit weird, or slightly out of place.  I think a healthy mix of colours and textures adds to life, don’t you?  Unfortunately, this word has a bit of a negative ‘vibe’ associated with it.  It really means “something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste.” Kitsch is a German noun meaning “trash, rubbish; slapdash, pretentious, sentimental, or tacky work of art.” It is a derivative of the verb kitschen “to throw together (a work of art),” from German kitschen “to sweep up or scrape up mud from the street,” or from German dialect kitschen “to sell cheaply.” Kitsch entered English in the first half of the 20th century.  As an editor I have to use the word with its proper meaning, but personally I like things that don’t quite fit – and so I generally like ‘kitschy’ things! 

What about you?  Is this a positive or negative word?

The versatility of English

You know what I love about English? How in infiltrates every aspect of our lives. It’s not just a language, it is a way of life. An English ‘life’ is different from a French ‘life’ or Algerian ‘life’ because the sub-text, nuances, and cultural references (and cultural history!) of each language is different. As culture is different – even minimally, like British English and Canadian English – life is different. We use different words to describe the same things…and these words, phrases, and concepts have meanings all their own. As an English as a Second Language teacher, a simple English phrase like ‘give me a ballpark figure’ or ‘ what’s the scoop?’ can take up a lot of time in explaining it to learners of the language. It can’t really be explained without adding in some English cultural references. Just as, obviously, the same for learners of French, German, Algerian, Russian, or any other language.

I am not saying English is more versatile than any of those languages; I am saying that it is a ‘simple to use but complicated to master’ tool like any other language. With each word comes all sorts of cultural baggage, and it is the teacher’s (or editor’s) honourable task to make it properly understood within a certain context. Contexts change, and so do the meanings of the words we use in them…even if they are the same words. A ‘printer’ could be the device in an office or it could be a person who prints things as a business. and the reader only knows which one to use based on the context of the rest of the words. For any sort of written work, it is up to the editor to make sure the context is properly understood. That’s why it is so important to have a skilled editor in your corner (another culturally-charged phrase). It is our job to make the work say what you want it to say, to the people you want to say it to, with ease of reading, colour, action, and even a little fun.

At Greentree we excel in this. Our small company of 3 people in culturally-colourful and multi-lingual Montreal focuses on taking the time to understand your needs, your audience, and how to bring the two together simply and efficiently. And we take the time to work with you until it says exactly what you want it to say. Since 2007, we have edited material for web pages, books, presentations, and commercial documents for both local and international clients. And we love it.

Do you have a question or comment about the above? Let’s start a discussion to see how we can work together!

Welcome to Greentree Communications!

Do you know what ‘verve‘ is? We do, and we’ve got it – and we can give it to you!

Greentree Communications‘ team will make your corporate or personal documents, manuscripts, presentations, projects, and webpages come alive with colour, vitality, and impact by providing these top-level services:

– Editing

– Proof-reading

– Translation English to French

– Translation French to English

– Translation-and-Editing

Why choose Greentree?

The word ‘Greentree’ evokes images of health, colour, growth, energy, warmth, vitality – all things you have in your business. All things you want othersto see in your business.

At Greentree, we know how to put words and concepts together to stand out and be distinctly yours. And that’s not all. We will give them energy, vivid color, and emphasis – in short, verve. The result will be professional, easy to read, interesting – and most importantly, say what you want it to say!.

Greentree Communications is your complete language partner, making sure your message to the outside world reflects these qualities. . .and more. Through working closely with you and effective creative editing, proofreading,translation, and translation-and-editing, we will find new ways to announce your presence and abilities to your desired audience – an audience waiting for a new approach!

Our skilled team has worked with all types of clients, from private individuals to public and non-profit organizations and publishers. We will bring that experience and professionalism to what we do for you!

Please browse the rest of our site and let us know if there is any way we can help you!

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