Friday, 29 June 2007
Since television news got its own back on Chris Morris by becoming a parody of his parodies, I don’t expect much from it. Indeed, I watch ITV news as it is the best comedy on ‘the box’ in this age of the insanely unfunny ‘Catherine Tate Show’ and all its flagitious cousins, or rather bastard offspring.
Here comes the naïve part: what I do expect at least from the BBC, however, is some basic adherence to grammatical rules and conventions. Spoken, for instance, in Wednesday’s Ten O’clock News were the words “just a short ten-minute drive”. What is a long ten-minute drive like, then? “A short drive” or “a ten-minute drive”, perhaps. Such defiance towards mathematical reality brings to mind the abhorrent practice of “110%” (as in “I’m going to give…”), formerly an argot exclusive among footballers but now in excruciatingly common use.
This was topped last night, when in their coverage of some kind of floods that have apparently been happening somewhere I’m not and so don’t care about, the BBC sent correspondents to afflicted areas. Aside from the hilariously overblown coverage (if they had cable, and TV’s for that matter, there would have been blokes in Mozambique going “You can’t get to the fridge for milk? YOU CAN’T GET TO THE FRIDGE FOR MILK? Well that’s awful isn’t it? Puts me losing my wife, kids and house into perspective that does, mate”), there was too some truly cretinous language on offer.
My favourite part came when the reporter in some-village-or-other-where-Tories- live used the words “and, of course, farmers not being able to produce crops means less stuff on the shelves”. STUFF? Brilliant. I love stuff. I love eating it, watching it, wearing it, talking it. The lot. All that stuff.
In fact, I’d like to stuff the reporter’s shiny wellies up his arse.
In purchasing cheese derived from the milk of a goat, I want to make sure I buy the most ideologically sound brand. I have seen "goats cheese", "goat's cheese" and "goats' cheese" in my local middle-class deli.
Is it the case that there should be no apostrophe because it doesn't actually belong to the goat/s, it just comes from the goat/s?
For which should I plump?'.
All suggestions are as welcome as cheese to a Barnsley-supporting man from Wakefield (are in-jokes strictly a good way to provoke interest in a Blog?)
Thursday, 28 June 2007
Afternoon All,The errors in this pile of donkey-do stack up more quickly than Dane Bowers' plate at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. Let's have a quick run-through, although obviously I don't have time to pick through every stylistic and technical error.
Customer Service - thank-you all for attending the Microsoft Training, everyone has now completed and I have thanked Chris for providing the tours on your behalf.
Hopefully you all learned a few things that will benefit the customer's & your own knowledge.
Afternoon All,What's this? It's pathetic. Notice how, by capitalising the 'All', the author attempts to half-heartedly formalise the ineloquent, faux-informal 'Afternoon'. What sort of afternoon? The tone, usage and context of this are totally wrong.
Customer Service - thank-you all for attending the Microsoft TrainingWhy construct the sentence with the addressee at the beginning? And since when has 'thank you' (or the acceptable 'thankyou') been hyphenated? If the author had a decent grasp of written English, she could have rescued this sentence's oddball structure - possibly even making its unusualness appealing. But she couldn't.
everyone has now completedWhat? Completed what? This sounds like some sort of pseudo science-fiction terminology; in fact, it wouldn't seem out of place at a Scientology conference.
benefit the customer's &The coup de grâce. The incorrect apostrophe is good, but the incongruous ampersand is even better.
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
We all know why Stephen picks on Alan so much; it's because of actual and genuine love.
Harrogate: bastion of the middle classes; jewel in Yorkshire's crown; sometime purveyor of apostrophe abuse.
I see quite a few examples of place names missing the required possessive apostrophe. Sometimes this has a historical or traditional reason (e.g., someone got it wrong hundreds of years ago and it was never corrected) and sometimes a local authority makes the unforgivable decision to ignore grammar in the name of "branding" (see also NewcastleGateshead - which inspired the naming of GrammarBlog).
However it would seem that Harrogate County Council simply can't make up their minds.
Obviously they're too busy drinking overpriced tea and trying to hide their Yorkshire accents to proof read sign copy.
Ah'll see thee.
These patients are requiring immediate treatment as their life is, or has the potential to be life threatening. These patients are seen first.
Good to know that those patients whose life (not condition) is life threatening, are seen first. Essentially what you're telling me, then, Newcastle General Hospital A&E Waiting Room, is that psychopaths are seen first. Or at least the potential ones. I see no problem there. I felt distinctly Category 1 after reading the description.
These patients are well enough or have minor injuries which will wait in turn to see the doctor until all the above mentioned categories have been dealt with.
Since when have injuries had to wait in turn to see the doctor? Surely it would be a good idea to deal with the patients in a given category rather than the categories themselves.
Clearly the descriptions of categories 1 and 4 were written by the mentally incapable.
Monday, 25 June 2007
I started with a cup of coffee and a muffin. The coffee was made by someone I heard refer to herself as “coffee overseer of the greater New York area”. What she gave me was the universal coffee-flavoured effluvium that you get from Starbucks: thick and unfocused. The muffin was similarly malco, a sweaty bun that was sweet but stupid.Even if you overlook the wonderfully eloquent scorn, you have to marvel at the way the colon perfectly tees up the second sentence for the pay off.
...coffee-flavoured effluvium that you get from Starbucks: (wait for it, wait for it...)Generally, I'm a big fan of the dash - it's a modern, versatile piece of kit and very useful when a comma just isn't pause enough. Its major advantage being that it's kind of a maverick punctuation mark — the D.I. Frost of punctuation. It doesn't follow any rules, but by God it gets results. These days its use tends to usurp that of both the semicolon and the colon for this very reason - if there are no rules, it's difficult to get wrong. The writer can therefore sprinkle dashes liberally about his prose without fear of reprise.
BLAM! Thick and unfocused.
However, Mr Gill's mastery of the colon as given me renewed endeavour to use it more myself. Despite the fact that it is unpredictable, unyielding and difficult to get a handle on, the colon just seems to have more dramatic effect, more impact. To extend the analogy, if the dash is punctuation's Frost, the colon is its Jack Bauer.
Lynn Truss is another fan of the colon, as she writes in Eats, shoots and leaves.
Using the apostrophe correctly merely tells the world you aren't a thicko. Using the comma well announces that you have an ear for sense and rhythm, confidence in your style and a proper respect for your reader, but it doesn't mark you out as a master of your craft. But colons and semicolons — well, they are in a different league, my dear!
Before you ask, you would be right to assume one thing: I do think the sun shines out of A.A. Gill's colon.
- Grammar doesn't follow easily measurable logic.
- Application developers' primary language is usually either php or binary as opposed to English.
Facebook tackled a much more complicated issue with their status updates and at least gave it a go before finally giving up.
Maybe we should petition Google to get it sorted, maybe we should start a revolution! Or maybe even a Facebook group!
This is a double-pronged sin. The restaurant, in their smattered employment of French, have been deliberately abstruse so as to seem better, nay classier, than they really are, and then managed to do that wrongly. This brings to mind broadsheet columnists and their incongruous deployment of Latin phrases.
Malmaison, with your 'Wow-factor suites' and ambiguous invite for us to ‘Eat, drink and sleep it’, welcome to The List.
Saturday, 23 June 2007
I say potato, you say potatoe's...
I found this photo on Flickr, which is the coolest website in the world - despite the awful name.
Remember you should alway's bring your tortoise indoors at nightThat's a new one.
www.tortoisecentre.co.uk is now officially a mortal enemy of GrammarBlog.
Thursday, 21 June 2007
It's about time people realise that language is a vehicle and, if you can't drive it, leave it to others who can. If you don't understand that the simple utterance "You are welcome" is lovingly abbreviated to "You're welcome", then I wish you'd shut up and never speak or write again.
Don't worry about thanking me for the correction, your welcome.
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
Enough time has passed that we can now nag Presley about the tunes Treat Me Nice, which should have been Treat Me Nicely, and All Shook Up, which should have been, technically, All Shaken Up, or, preferably, All Shaken.Good stuff. I love digg for alerting me to a 2 year old article first published in a local paper halfway around the world.
Full article at: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/01/04/news_pf/Floridian/Lyricists_have_tense_.shtml
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
If that's bad, 'comedy' nicknames are even worse. "Maccy D's". 'Marks & Sparks'. Bah.
A slight exception to this rant is Sainsbury's. They used to trade as 'J Sainsbury', which, given it is named after one person, you can just about forgive people for referring to as "Sainsbury's". The reason I mention it is that they then rebranded themselves as simply "Sainsbury's", which possibly confused the tiny minds of those who use "Asda's" et al.
I even hate that last sentence because of the hyphens, and I WROTE IT. In turn, the capital letters I used there are already making me think about having a glass of wine to calm down (and no doubt when I look on the label of the wine bottle there will be a recommendation that it should be imbibed with “red meat’s”).
Where you fail to see a “your joking”, I see a vile, bellicose infidel taunting me to “come and have a go”. Where you read a text message as “off 2 pb, c u thr?” I see the words “I hate you, I hate your face, and I’m going to kill your family. Twice”.
This has caused problems for me in the past, but if people decide I deserve shunning for telling them that the plural of stadium is stadia, then they are not the type of friends I need. Similarly, I do not want or need to eat in restaurants serving “Nacho’s” and “Fish ‘n’ Chips”.
I have obstacles to overcome in my professional life too. One of my tasks at work is to transcribe 19th century literary manuscripts into XML form. The transcriptions must appear exactly as the text does in the original, and as such I am obliged to replicate the errors of previous generations or face censure from my superiors. This is extremely hard for me, and I actually think I’d rather face the hazards that firemen or people who wipe the backsides of the elderly do than have to consistently put the ‘i’ before the ‘e’ in ‘received’ (David Livingstone), or fail altogether to use apostrophes or commas (Isabella Bird Bishop).
I am not neurotic, just correct.
Sunday, 17 June 2007
Now, as far as I'm concerned, there's no problem with split infinitives themselves. Those who rigidly apply grammatical rules without any regard for context, tone or audience can be just as irritating as those who have no grasp on the rules in the first place. They're usually academics.
Anyway, we all know the classic example of "to boldly go". As far as I'm concerned, "to boldly go" reads and sounds better than "to go boldly", regardless of it being 'bad grammatical style'.
To brilliantly run past the housefeels incorrect, both in writing and in speech. But
To bravely decidesounds much better.
Personally, I think what this boils down to is that the tone, usage and emphasis of the adverb plays a major part in determining how I subconciously construct the clause itself. It's almost as if my brain decides on the chronological order of the activities described in the upcoming statement, and then acts accordingly. Eg, I make the foolish decision to shoot my family, and then I shoot them:
To foolishly shoot my family.
Friday, 8 June 2007
Stockport Pizza is....?
Do you think the sign maker just chuckles and carries on when he receives erroneous copy from the shop owner?
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