Saturday, 29 September 2007

Stephen Fry has a blog!

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Should I be embarrassed that I experienced a girlish rush of excitement when I found Stephen Fry's blog?


Strike one, Grammar "so-called" Puss.

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I added GrammarBlog to the Britblog directory last week. While I was poking around I found a blog by the name of Grammar Puss.

At the time of writing this is the current post, discussing one of those things-everyone-should-do articles. As noble a sentiment as it is to poke fun at lazy hack articles recommending sponsors' products as lifestyle must-haves, I was horrified when I saw Ms Puss's comment on item 23.
23) Own a convertible
Don't let Al Gore here you say that.
Now I hate to nitpick (ahem) and I'm the first to admit that everyone makes mistakes, but that's not a simple typo is it?

To think I was going to add her as a friend. I'll keep an eye on her - one more slip up like that and it's The List for Grammar Puss.


After a couple of people pointed it out to her (who, me?), Grammar Puss corrected her error. Don't worry, I made sure I got a screen shot for this eventuality. Can you tell I was a cub scout?

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Thursday, 13 September 2007

Grammar Abuse in Signage part 6

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Teddington Lock 's (sic) originally uploaded by pomphorhynchus.

This is a particularly impressive example of apostophe abuse as it dates back to 1858.

A handwritten sign is bad enough; this bad-boy's engraved!

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You really do bring it on yourself, Guardian

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This is getting a bit ridiculous now. I am not picking on the Guardian (sorry, theguardian) on purpose, and I do feel like someone who slows down to look at a road accident.

Below is a picture of the top-half of today’s front page:

They’ve forgotten to put the word ‘strike’ in their headline, haven’t they? Their HEADLINE. I think it is 'strike' as the text below says “Al-Qaida…has the capacity to carry out a spectacular strike”.

However, it is possible that they meant it, and have used phraseology more commonly seen in adverts for firework nights and such like. Possible, I said.

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Wednesday, 12 September 2007

"Middlesborough's" Guardian Angels

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A few years ago, I wrote an article in a football fanzine about the media’s infuriating practice of inserting a second ‘o’ in the word ‘Middlesbrough’, making ‘Middlesborough’.

In their ‘irreverent’ ‘Football Diary’ section the next week, The Guardian newspaper made satirical mention of the piece. This was sumptuously ironic as they were, and still are, by far the most frequent culprits of this crime against spelling, sense, atlases (oh how I wish the plural were ‘atlai’) and encyclopaedias (ditto ‘encyclopaedi’, although that does sound a bit like a trendy name for the Sex Offenders’ Register).

Further, the region Middlesbrough is located in often appears as ‘Teeside’ (it is ‘Teesside’, as in beside the River Tees). I have written to the Guardian on several occasions in the last year alone on both counts, but replies there have come none, to use an incredibly irritating current linguistic style (see “up with that they will not put”).

Today, though, the sub-editors of the newspaper have surpassed themselves.

The letters page in the Sports section carries missives directly next to each other in which BOTH spellings are used:

What a logic defying approach to sub-editing. Schizophrenic, in fact. Or, perhaps the sub-editor was a bit like a flawed character from a rubbish sitcom who couldn’t decide which ‘gal’ to take to dinner (Middlesbrough or Middlesborough?) so dated both at once, despite there being no apparent need to do so.

As if that was not enough, look at the headline above the second letter. Unless they are making a pun on that well known phrase about the pleasure of surprisingly stumbling upon a tightly braided rope, then I think, Betty, they’ve done another whoopsie.

This country.

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Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Poor Wee Peter

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This isn’t strictly a spelling and grammar entry, I just like it. I like all three of the story headlines for the possibilities they conjure up: Did the zebra kick Peter, then try to get into a fight? Did the hair perform mouth to mouth? Was a ‘club woman’ a version of a clubbed foot? Imagine that.

It’s from a copy of the Daily Record dated Monday June 1st, 1970, found inside a cardboard box. I love the whole thing and keep it in my desk drawer to cheer me up. It’s nice that tabloid newspapers have changed in some ways, but really they have stayed the same (Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, to be pretentious about it).

That’s all.

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Monday, 10 September 2007

Shoddy Burchill worse than Ron Burgundy

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Using a well-worn expression incongruously or erroneously is a linguistic crime born of ignorance.

Perhaps I'm naive, but I didn't expect to find it committed by a seasoned writer in this week's Observer. In an interview about what she "knows about men", Julie Burchill (whose name now graces our list) uses the following heinous verbal concoction:

There are lovely men and lovely women and rubbish men and rubbish women. The trick is telling the pearls from the swine before you get involved with them personally, sexually or financially.

Telling the pearls from the swine? What? What does that mean? Has she grotesquely misunderstood the meaning of the original expression, or has she resorted to borderline-malapropism in order to illustrate some sort of achingly-hip socio-political point that's way over my head?

When in Rome...


Thursday, 6 September 2007

PR agents and other Nazis

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Being interested solely in highbrow entertainment such as books by AA Gill, Oscar Wilde plays and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, I wouldn't dream of giving credence to the notion that such cretinous, vacuous entertainment as Big Brother deserves its place in the TV schedule, much less watch the damned thing. It is therefore purely coincidence that, while on my internet travels, my eye was caught by a couple of pieces of entertainment journalism about the latest UK Big Brother.

The first of the aforementioned titbits is from the Popbitch entertainment newsletter to which I am a friend is a subscriber.
The Big Brother twins have signed up with
Charlotte Church's former manager, Jonathan
Shalit. They might regret this after the press
release his company put out to announce it,
which we've copied word for word below.
If only they could read.

------ Forwarded Message
From: Jonathan
Conversation: Samantha and Amanda fror Big
Brother aka 'The Twins'
Subject: Samantha and Amanda fror Big Brother
aka 'The Twins'

Their sweet
........Their Lovely
................Their Adorable
...Their joined at the hip

And speak in stereo...Welcome to SAMANDA
World....and We represent them...

Andrew Castle...Charley...Dane Bowers...Ian 'H'
Watkins...Jamelia...Javine...Jonathan Ansell...
Konnie Huq...Myleene Klass...Nina Myskow.

That was sent to me by Dave K but I admit it, I can't get enough trashy entertainment and I regularly trawl the internet for D-list celebrity news. I love all that, me.

The next article that caught my eye did so for all the wrong reasons. It seems that the winner of Big Brother and lovable simpleton, Brian was the target of a hate campaign by racists. There are few things that get me as riled as a misplaced apostrophe but racism is one of them. This article caused me to get my knickers in a right old twist by combining both of these peeves.
The Daily Star have reported that a group of “racist” blogger's are furious over Bri’s relationship with Amanda and are desperate to turn fans against him.

A group of extreme right-wing bloggers have taken to the internet and labeled his relationship with Amanda as “sick and evil.”
However other Big Brother fans have hit back at "racist" blogger’s, labeling them "shameful."

Apart from the obvious apostrophe error in "blogger's", I think they went a bit overboard on the quotation marks. If someone thinks a relationship between a black lad and a white girl is sick and evil, I'd stick my neck out and say that was racist. I wouldn't feel the need to hide behind quotation marks. I know they were recycling a story from the Daily Star but they had already acknowledged that; to use additional quotation marks gives the impression that they are using the word in a sarcastic manner and they don't agree with the labelling (two Ls in the UK please).

Another thing: as the smallest amount of investigation would have revealed, the racist comments were posted on a forum and not a blog. Therefore I think the phrase should have read, 'racist "bloggers"'

Those of you sad enough to be familiar with Sam, Amanda and Brian will know that this intellectually challenged bunch of teenagers committed more crimes to vocabulary and grammar while in the house than I can document in this post. Here is but one example of why kids should stay in school.

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Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Madrid: Rid Mad Commas Please,

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This is the front of a high street fashion shop on the Gran Via, Madrid:

The title amused me enough, the erroneous comma even more so. Add in the lower case ‘l’ at the start, and you have yourself a classic example of the fact that no matter what their nationality, marketeers go about their work with all the delicacy of a drunk French chauffeur in a Parisian tunnel.

Were only lefties allowed in? Does Arthur Scargill buy his slacks here?

So many questions.

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Monday, 3 September 2007

I do, I do I do I do I do I do

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This post is more of a question than an answer, I suppose. When one is asked the question "Do you have any chocolate hobnobs in your pants?", the standard English is usually a variation on: "I have" or "I haven't".

But recently I have found myself slipping into the Americanised "I do" or "I don't". The question is, should I avoid this for purely xenophobic reasons, or is it grammatically incorrect? The problem is that I'm not strictly sure if "I do" is incorrect. My somewhat loose theory is that it is incorrect, because the question is based around the verb to have, not to do, with "do" in this context being an idiosyncratic English alternative to the "have you any chocolate hobnobs" style of question.

The problem comes when you look at the sentence "Do you like eating chocolate hobnobs through a porcelain straw?". If you answered "I do", it would sound correct. If you answered "I like", you'd sound like Borat.

Thoughts please.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

The Scottish Football Pundit's Dictionary, Part 2

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Another wonderful entry, introduced by Craig Burley during Setanta Sports' coverage of the Man Utd vs Sunderland game on Saturday:

Incise (adjective):
A combination of 'incisive' and 'precise'; typically used to describe particularly effective attacking play.


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