Friday, 24 August 2007

Spell Checker Poem

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Via Digg I found a funny poem by a guy called Dean Hunt about the dangers of relying too much on one's spell checker.

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it’s weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.
read more | digg story

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Sunday, 19 August 2007

Unbelievable, Richard

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There's no argument over the fact that Andy Gray is the best football pundit on British television.

Tonight, on Sky Sports' peerless The Last Word, he surpassed himself with two wonderful additions to the English language:

Evolvement (noun):

A sporting alternative to 'evolution'; typically used to describe a measurable development in an individual's sporting prowess.

Unexplicable (adjective):
A sporting alternative to 'inexplicable'; deployed when criticising poor defending or egregious refereeing decisions.

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Grammar Abuse in Signage - Part 5

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Sandwiche's, originally uploaded by iandavid.

Why, oh why, oh why would you think that "Sandwiches" would ever need to have an apostrophe between the 'e' and 's'.

Pass the molotov cocktail, De Luca's is about to have an accident.

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Recommended Reading, Part 1

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Forget Eats, Shoots and Leaves; those of you looking for a more highbrow grammar-based paperback would do well to consider Bill Bryson's splendid Troublesome Words.

This really is excellent stuff. It covers some great topics (everything from the usage of 'who' and 'whom', to common literary misquotations), often in substantial depth, and is pithily entertaining throughout.

Highly recommended.

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Monday, 13 August 2007

It's not easy being a grammar wizard.

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I was recently reminded of this cartoon from the hilarious but ever-so-wrong Perry Bible Fellowship (safe for work but avoid if you are easily offended).
Grammar Wizard sets rod for own backI've previously hinted at my dislike for the preposition rule by paraphrasing one of Winston Churchill's famous quotes (probably misattributed). Nonetheless the cartoon is a funny reminder that if you live by the grammar sword, you die by the grammar sword.

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Saturday, 11 August 2007

A Positive Connection?

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I hate it when instructions aren't clear. If a product manufacturer or a service provider has a limited number of words with which to instruct a customer, those words should be chosen carefully. Unlike this example from a London underground ticket machine.

...until you feel a positive connection.
What the hell is that supposed to mean? Is it referring to an emotional or spiritual connection? How much does Ken Livingstone expect me to feel for his overcrowded, sweaty, inefficient transport system?

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Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Jeff gets grammatical

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Check out Jeff Jarvis, he of 'Dell Hell' fame, chastising the Times for a redundant word.
They say that each page will have “somewhat fewer words,” which is really bad editing; there are either fewer words or there aren’t; “somewhat” is meaningless and a grammatical waste of one of those precious words left behind.
Imagine if we can entice this man, arguably the world's most powerful blogger, to fight for our cause.

I'm drunk with power at the very thought of it. Mwah-ha-ha!

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Monday, 6 August 2007

OK film, crap punctuation.

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British comedy at it's best
I watched this DVD at the weekend and my girlfriend spotted the rogue apostrophe on the cover (I was a little hungover or else I would have spotted it myself). I don't know whether to blame Now magazine for writing it or Fox entertainment for including it on the packaging of their DVD. Either way this was approved (assuming one editor at each company) by at least 4 people who write for a living.

So, to Now magazine and Fox, I'm sending you a warning: next time it's The List. Is that what you want? Because that's what'll happen.

The film was OK.

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New friends and new enemies.

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GrammarBlog has been up and running for a few months now and we're having lots of fun. We are all first time bloggers so we spent a couple of months finding our feet, then Tom implemented the lovely design and we haven't looked back since.

Apparently blogging is about more than simply proselytising to the globe, it's important to create partnerships with like-minded bloggers and improve your influence. Well this all sounded marvellously cult-like and gave me the perfect opportunity to go cruising Google looking for grammatical kicks.

On my travels I found the following outstanding blogs:

Elisabeth writes - Elisabeth is into Haikus, Steven Fry and word origins (I'm sure there is a latin-based term to use in place of 'word origins' and I'm sure Elisabeth will be able to tell me).
The Red Pen - Prolific, knowledgeable and militant - our kind of people! We were proud to be mentioned in the same post as them in SPOGG
Lowercase l - A blog dedicated to people who write in capitals but use lowercase ls. Brilliant and daft in equal measure, this blog does exactly what it says in the tin.

However this week hasn't all been a bed of roses. Whenever I find examples of grammar abuse by the lay-person, although I find it irksome, I can generally laugh it off (honestly) but when grammar atrocities are committed by professional journalists I see red.

Take this choice snippet from an article on

Yugo (1981-1991)

It was the lowest-priced new car of the 80's, produced in Yugoslavia and introduced to US market in 1986. by Malcolm Bricklin. It sold very well, but the main reason for that was the price of the car, not it's reliability or efficiency. The list of the problems with this car is quite long. Owners complained basically about everything – engine problems, steering problems, problems with the stereo, problems with the seat belt, problems with the floor. The car could stall and fail to restart without prior indication or warning. Since it was so cheap, could we really expect it to work flawlessly?
I despair, I really do.

And Alex from St George, Utah wrote to us with the following complaint:
Pet peeve: Today I went to Smith's grocery store, and in the frozen foods section I found an appalling abuse of frozen treats. There were signs for frozen pizza, budget dinners and (at this I gasped audibly): "popsicle's." Gag me, please. Between that and their difficult self check-out, I may never go there again.
"Gag me please"? Sorry Alex, you'll have to go to a different kind of website for that sort of request, but thanks for getting in touch. An accompanying photo would have been the icing on the cake, but rest assured your keen-eyed sleuthing has resulted in Smith's Food and Drug Store becoming another addition to... The List

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Soviet virgin lands short of goal again

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I have a love/hate relationship with crappy ambiguous marketing copy. I love it because it's useful for duping the masses; I hate it because it's used for duping the masses. I love it when you read a snappy phrase that sounds great; I hate it because it doesn't mean anything. I love it because when it's done badly the results can be hilarious.

Take this list of ambiguous newspaper headlines for instance. My personal favourites are listed below.

Children's Stool Great for Use in Garden
Brings the rhubarb up a treat.

Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case

Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
What an image!

Reagan Wins On Budget, But More Lies Ahead

Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers
Brutally ironic justice.

Prostitutes appeal to Pope
At least he's honest.

Panda mating fails; Veterinarian takes over
That's dedication.

Soviet virgin lands short of goal again
She's trying her hardest.

Enraged cow injures farmer with ax

Plane too close to ground, crash probe told
Stating the bleeding obvious.

Miners refuse to work after death
Union power gone mad.

Never withhold herpes infection from loved one

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Thursday, 2 August 2007

Bad grammar = no girlfriend

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This is just priceless. While acquainting myself with StumbleUpon, one of many social sharing sites floating about the t'interweb super-autobahn, I found (or stumbled upon) this image (click the image for a better view).

It appears StumbleUpon user, Mellybee (19) was less than impressed by this unfortunate chap's profile on a dating site. Her brilliant reaction, instead of just not going out with him, was to take a red pen to his efforts and share her contempt with everyone on the internet. Good girl!

Through my tears of laughter (the drawings are the pièce de résistance), I couldn't help but notice, as I'm sure you have too, that Mellybee made a few glaring omissions and even a spelling mistake of her own. Logically the only thing for me to do was to correct her corrections. You can see the results here.

I am well aware that even with my input the list of errors is far from exhaustive but it's a step, at least, in the right direction.

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The blogger spelling test

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It was with great trepidation that I clicked the submit button at the end of the blogger spelling test. I had made the decision that whatever my score, I was going to share it with you, dear readers.

It is quite a good, if rather elementary test, focusing on the most common errors; some of which I have been guilty of in the past (definately). Having said that I never understand why people get "loose" and "lose" mixed up. Without wanting to damage transatlantic relations, this seems to be an error more common among our friends from the US.

To my relief I was presented with the badge below - read 'em and weep.

Let me know how you all get on - be honest!

Thanks to Dave K for sending me the link, the techies amongst you might want to check out his blog, the excellently URLed


Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Peruse this post.

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In my last post I used the word 'perusing' in the context of light browsing.

Turns out I was wrong.
pe·ruse (p-rz)
tr.v. pe·rused, pe·rus·ing, pe·rus·es
To read or examine, typically with great care.
[Middle English perusen, to use up : Latin per-, per- + Middle English usen, to use; see use.]
pe·rusa·ble adj.
pe·rusal n.
pe·ruser n.
Usage Note: Peruse has long meant "to read thoroughly" and is often used loosely when one could use the word read instead. Sometimes people use it to mean "to glance over, skim," as in I only had a moment to peruse the manual quickly, but this usage is widely considered an error. Sixty-six percent of the Usage Panel finds it unacceptable.
I feel sick.

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