GrammarBlog

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Known Pleasures

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Like throwing small bits of wood into a pond and watching ducks try to eat them, being a spelling and grammar snob is a nice thing to fall back on when you’re looking for cost-free enjoyment.

Naturally, misplaced apostrophes and the like do cause anger, but in equal measure errors often engender mirth.

Yesterday, I received an email which contained the words:

"Thank you for your email. I resent the system confirmation, but just in case you don't receive it…"

What, I thought, has the system confirmation ever done to the sender? Was she so affronted by its failings that she began to harbour murderous thoughts? Did she dream of taking a sledge hammer to the main network computer?

Another classic recently sent to me included the line:

"…needles to say that the hired furniture arrived on time and on specification."

This reads as if the author is giving a stage direction for a play about diabetes or heroin in which furnishings-obsessed syringes actually perform part of the dialogue.

At the end of the aforementioned email, someone is thanked for "not loosing his composure". Does this mean he kept a tight rein on his calmness, never letting rigorous pre-stated standards slip?

However, my recent favourite was sent by an old colleague of mine, Steve the Geordie. On being charged with informing local health professionals that a meeting was to be postponed, Steve signed off his email:

"Sorry for any incontinence this may have caused".

Marvellous.

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5 Comments:
Blogger Dan said...

Note: the quotes in this entry are best read in a different voice to your own, as if they appear in letters on 'Points of View', or like in 'Home and Away' when characters would find goodbye letters on the kitchen table and hear the voice of the author as they read them.

"Dear Alf. I'm so sorry it has to be like this. In truth, ever since Bobby came out of the fridge as a ghost I've been a bit freaked out by Summer Bay.

I'm off to live in Yabbie Creek.

Jessie".

2 October 2007 at 10:42  
Blogger Patrick said...

I read all the quotes in the voice of Esther Rantzen, and it seemed to work. And since you've mentioned Points Of View, I've always thought the people they employ to do voiceovers for the opinions from standard, inconsequential members of the public who write in to be worthy of pity. It's surely the lowest rung of the voiceover ladder when your only purpose is to simulate the intonation of Jean Crabtree from Basildon or Ronald Defroqueville from Uttoxeter.

And it might just be this internet cafe I'm in at the moment, but your entry isn't too hot itself when it comes to grammar:

e.g.
you’re

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and put it down to the browser. Unless it's some new, rogue punctuation system you're instigating in a bid to demolish the established standard... but that doesn't seem your style.

2 October 2007 at 12:15  
Blogger Gez said...

Patrick, I think you have uncovered a browser bug. Could you tell me what browser and version you are using? Then I'll shout at Tom, our web-monkey, until he fixes it.

2 October 2007 at 12:28  
Blogger Paddy said...

Whoops, I was signed in all wrong there. That's the pitfall of not having a serious enough e-mail address for jobhunting purposes and having to make a new one with formal nomenclature and all.

It's IE but I can't seem to find which version as all the 'properties' and 'about' tabs have been disabled for plebs like me. I don't really know another way to find out.

2 October 2007 at 12:37  
Blogger Gez said...

It's Dan's fault, trying to paste fancy stylised punctuation from MS word. Newer browsers deal with them OK, older ones don't.

2 October 2007 at 22:57  

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