Friday, 30 November 2007

The Grerat Typo Inciden

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Newspaper Typo - Grerater Manchester Police
The Grerat Typo Inciden, originally uploaded by Gez D.

I took this ages ago then forgot about it until I was clearing the photos out of my phone. I like the double typo and the sound of the word "grerater".

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Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The Shame.

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Our pals at The Engine Room have found a fun little gizmo that works out the reading level required for any blog on the interwebs.

The Engine Room was designated a genius level blog. "Great," I thought, "with the A.A Gill quote in the last post and the most indecipherable paragraph ever in a post from a couple of weeks ago we should walk it." (Incidentally, I'm not sure how I managed to insert hyperlinks into a thought, but it happened. )

Imagine my horror when, upon inserting our URL, I was confronted with this:

On-line readability test

I was so shocked that it took me more than 2 seconds to get annoyed with the copy on this banner. A blog can't read so how can the blog have a reading level? I think the sentence should be like so:

This blog's required reading level:

Anyway, I'm not happy. Obviously the technology is deeply flawed. I demand a Goresque re-count! Something must be done to right this wrong!

I know there are those who may think that I shouldn't take this too seriously; it's just a bit of fun; my competitive smugness is extreme to the point of being nauseous etc. To those people I say, "Hi, have we not met before?"

Traditional pedants would have a field-day with that terminal preposition but I'll push on; no time for an edit in this Kerouacian ramble. (Goresque, Kerouacian, how many more names can I mangle into the vague resemblance of an adjective?)

I was slightly heartened to see that Apostrophism was awarded the same level of reading requirement. Slightly.

P.S. Well done to J.D. and the gang at the Engine Room. I'm very fucking happy for you. See, I can be gracious. I'd also like to add that I definitely didn't run through the readability test to check that you were telling the truth. Ahem.

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Sunday, 25 November 2007

No manners but what a critic

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I do enjoy broadsheet restaurant criticism.

The best writers use a delightful combination of pretension, rudeness and malevolence. The unspoken concord between writer and reader - i.e. that this is just food and hence reviewing it is faintly ridiculous - provides the opportunity for gleeful childishness and linguistic showboating. GrammarBlog paragon AA Gill excels in food writing; he often spends most of his Sunday Times column digressing in relatively straightforward English, before delivering a savage, unusually concocted onslaught in the last 200 words.

The Blonde’s jellied ham was wet, cold, bacon-flavoured string with green bits. The main course, the faggots, was under-seasoned liverish balls that sat in a thin dew; they should have been raucous, gay offal bollocks wrapped in fatty caul and doused in a gravy made out of mink thong.

I also enjoy Michael Winner's food column. Winner has a different style: short, sharp, bilious sentences that bubble and snap with his slightly old-fashioned vocabulary.

Great Queen Street is awful, ghastly, ill-run, absurd. For a start this dump is so pretentious it doesn't put its name or its street number anywhere. Not on the window, not on the awning. Nothing.

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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

For God's sake, wash it!

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Dirty Dicks

Dirty Dicks in this photo; a glazed ass in the last Who says GrammarBlog is puerile?

Missing apostrophes aren't usually as funny as superfluous ones. This example is great though. Dirty Dicks, opposite Liverpool St. tube station in London, appears to only allow entry to gentlemen with hygiene issues. Upon visiting the website you will notice that the previously missing apostrophe is present and correct, although one of the links asks "Whos Mabel".

If you feel your manhood is sufficiently grubby and you would like to visit this not so exclusive members club, here is a map to its location.

View Larger Map

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Grammar abuse in signage - part 10

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I'm not sure what's more entertaining: the apostrophe abuse or the crop of the photo.

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Monday, 19 November 2007

You have no soul

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Found on my current favourite blog, Passive Aggressive Notes, this example of a comma splice altering the meaning of a sentence is a lesson to all who use commas like confetti.

Thanks to those who used this as a trash can, you have no soul.This is worse than your average splice as the comma unintentionally turns the phrase, 'you have no soul' into a subordinating clause. In other words – because of the people who use the bin for rubbish, the reader of the sign has no soul. I like to imagine a particularly forlorn student (possibly listening to My Chemical Romance or the Smiths) wandering past this notice and thinking, "So that's it; I knew someone was to blame."

Brilliantly, a passing zealot spotted this error and resolved it with an act of grammar vigilantism.

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Sunday, 18 November 2007

Scotch Gents This Way

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Ignoring the apostrophe abuse, left is the new down in Edinburgh.

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Friday, 16 November 2007

An 'Xmas' appeal from GrammarBlog

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As Christmas approaches and companies feverishly push their wares on increasingly maniacal consumers, there is an inevitable rash of hastily produced temporary signs and banners. Many of these will undoubtedly contain a plethora of errors for us all to chortle at. Those of you who regularly read this blog will know that the abuse of grammar in signage is one of our favourite topics and I would like to ask you all to help us out as we approach the holiday season by keeping your eyes peeled and your cameras to hand.

If you see a Christmas sign with spelling, punctuation or grammar errors, take a photo and send it into the usual address – grammarblog[at]googlemail[dot]com. Please include your name and the location of the sign in question.

Common errors to look out for include the following: basic spelling errors; overuse of quotation, exclamation and question marks; RaNdoM cAPs; meaningless marketing gibberish and, of course, apostrophe abuse. Bonus GrammarBlog points will be awarded for multiple offences and typographical atrocities. All contributions will be gratefully received and a bumper, special, Christmas edition of Grammar Abuse in Signage will be published on December 25th (or thereabouts).

London based readers might like to know that we have had an unconfirmed tip-off about a sign on Kennington Lane which reads, “X-Mass Booking's Now Being Taken”. Apparently it can be found at the Vauxhall end of the road, near “the bus stop”.

Fly my pretties, I know you will all make me proud.

Digg users, show your support here.

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Wednesday, 14 November 2007

I predict a pint

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My new mobile phone is really irritating me at the moment.

It isn’t causing me to itch uncontrollably or anything like that; it’s just generally leaving my nut more done in than a pistachio that has been cracked open by a battering ram, rolled over by a tank, and then fallen underneath the backside of that fat lass from ‘Birds of a Feather’. Who keeps shuffling. And she’s sat on concrete.

When you go online to sign up for a new mobile - would you actually go in a shop called ‘Phones 4U’ rather than buy online? If so, step away from the blog - a number of handset credentials (I’m going to sell them that phrase) are listed.

For instance there might be ‘standby: 14.5 days’, ‘talk: 9.0 hours’ or ‘flash with Schneider-Kreuznach lens’, which I had previously thought to be a tactical instruction given to Luftwaffe pilots in 1942. What it doesn’t mention, though, is anything about predictive text.

Predictive text on most phones now runs along the T9 system. T9, the much less interesting older brother (or ‘the Paul Ross’, if you like) of K9 the dog is basically easy to use.

However, the ‘words’ the newest version predicts have left me quite incensed, incandescent even with enough rage to contemplate turning to the dark side of single-key entering.

For instance, when I wanted to enter the word ‘or’, the first option was for the ‘word’ ‘ms’. ‘MS?’ thought I. ‘Manuscript?’ ‘Marks and Spencer?’ ‘Microsoft?’

No, that little ‘ms’ was the shrieking bastard-child version of what, if I didn’t take affirmative action, would mutate quite hideously into ‘msg’. ‘MSG’, which apparently now, in this context, means ‘message’. I scrolled down, found ‘or’ and pressed ‘enter’.

Afterwards, I felt a bit like Superman must when he is flying out of a burning building, Lois in his arms and a further explosion going off as he climbs into the sky.

Then, when I tried to type ‘just’, the first option, gallingly, hatefully, was ‘l8r’. Don’t these people know who I am?

Connected to this, the dictionary that T9 runs from is basically inept. In fact, completely inept. It is a demonstration of advanced ineptitude. In every text message I write, I have to spell and store at least one new word.

In my quieter moments, I now enter words that I think I might use in the future. Last month, I keyed-in some swearwords, which can be dangerous; my 'Cunt Betty' still hasn’t spoken to me in a week.

What I want is a predictive text system built for people who don’t partake in the systematic rape of the language - a predictive text system for grammar myrmidons everywhere.

I want it to have the words ‘Ebbsfleet’, ‘turpitude’ and ‘mulct’.

I want it to know when I wish to use an apostrophe instead of making me navigate my cursor over a cabal of chunk-faced, sick-yellow and frankly creepy looking ‘smilies’ to make a selection.

In short, I want it to make my heart sing as only an invention like that really could; over to you Dr Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown - you’ve done nothing since you built that time machine, you lazy, white-haired crazy-piece with a dog.

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Had a leek

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Had a leek, originally uploaded by Gez D.

This photo was taken by me in the very office I work in. I hope whoever wrote this note won't take offence at my posting of it.

Had a leek that won't flush? That's one hell of a leek!

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Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Pinker on language

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Steven Pinker has given a great interview to Guardian Unlimited in which he talks about, among other things, language as a measure of human development and swearing syntaxes (again).

As interesting as the interview is, whenever I hear intellectual discussion about language I can't help but think of that old Fry and Laurie sketch. To listen to the whole interview click here (or download the target file and listen to it later).

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Pass the dictionary

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This brilliantly abstruse extract from Bizarre Notes and Queries was written in August 1890 to show "that it would be possible to write a technically grammatical sentence, which would be almost unintelligible." I found this via a blog called Grow a Brain.
Sir:— You have behaved like an impetiginous-Croyle! like those inquinate, Crass-sciolists who envious of my moral celsitude, carry their nugacity to the height of creating symposically the facund words which my polymathic genius uses with uberty to abligate the tongues of the weetless! Sir—you have crassly parodied my own pet words, as though they were tangrams. I will not coacervate reproaches—I would abduce a veil over the atramental ingratitude which has chamferred even my undicerptible heart. I am silent on the foscillation, which my coadjivancy must have given you when I offered to become your fautor and admincle. I will not speak of the lippitude, the ablepsy, you have shown in exacerbating me—one whose genius you should have approached with mental discalceation. So I tell you sir syncophically, and without supervaceneous words, nothing will render ignoscible your conduct to me. I warn you that I would vellicate your nose, if I thought that any moral diathrosis could be thereby performed—if I thought that I should not impignorate my reputation by such a digtadiation.
With a bit of care and dedication, the English language can become a very effective barrier to understanding.

GrammarBlog points will be awarded to readers who can successfully interpret some or all of this passage. Good luck.

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Thursday, 8 November 2007

SOTP! Grammar time!

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MRP gleefully brought to my attention the fact that, a couple of posts ago, I made an embarrassing typo. I had stupidly mixed up the middle letters in Paul Brians' surname, dubbing him Paul Brains. Coincidently I saw her comment as I was about post a photo of the same mistake in funnier circumstances.

That's a typo and a half. It's like the culprit is spelling's equivalent of Mick Dundee. "That's not a typo—that's a typo!" (Damn, I can't find the relevant clip on youtube.)

It gets better. I did a Google image search for 'SOTP' and found that the above example was just one of many similar instances.

P.S. For those of you who are too young to recognise the reference in the title of this post: first know that I hate and resent you (there is no better indicter of one's own impending middle-age than realising all your '80s and '90s references are irrelevant) then educate yourselves on the gospel according to Hammer.

I think I might change my name to MC Grammar.

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Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Capital Punishment

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Would you like your steak Simply Grilled? Sky TV on a Big Screen and Bar Snacks served All Day. We sell Clothes and Accessories for Adults, Teenagers, Kids and Much More. I love it when Capital Letters are Abused.

This topic has quietly reared its repugnant little head a number of times in recent posts, but deviously managed to avoid scrutiny via a 'safety in grammatical howler numbers' policy. Well, no more. Your game is up Mr Rogue Majuscule. You've been plying your heinous trade for too long. It's time you got your comeuppance in the only language you really understand: brutal, ugly violence. Boris, fetch me the Stick. And a Towel.

I got carried away there but I would hope you understand my frustration. Capital letters are an important aspect of written English, but I've never been able to ascertain quite why people abuse them so much. After all, English has a reasonably simple set of rules: capitalise the first letter of sentences; capitalise the first letter of proper nouns (and adjectives which stem from proper nouns). There are subtleties, of course, but in general usage I can't see any real potential tripwires. So I suppose there must be something peculiar (or German) about the leagues of shop-owners, publicans and restaurateurs who, in some sort of bizarre homage to Jesse Ventura in Predator, seem compelled to spray thousands of arbitrary capital letters into their sentences until nothin', nothin' on this earth, coulda lived.

18th Century English apparently capitalised all written nouns (in the same way as modern German), but I find it difficult to believe that a faint linguistic hangover from this period is responsible for modern-day abuse. I think it is actually more to do with a lack of trust (or confidence?) in writing's power to deliver a simple message, and a desperation to emphasise.

It's as if the author of the typical 'blackboard' pub menu doesn't believe that the average punter can actually process more than three words at once, and hence it's a battle to keep their attention when you're telling them that the Chicken Balti w/ Rice comes with a free Pint of Lager.

I also think marketing and brand saturation plays a part. People are so used to branded goods that they're losing the ability to discern between lunch and Lunch. Christ – I bet there really is a brand of takeaway sandwiches called Lunch, isn't there? I daren't Google it.

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Grammar abuse in signage - part 9

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"Brew" Ridge, originally uploaded by DiegoLuego.

This one has everything.

Unnecessary quotation marks? Check.
Irritating marketing spelling (thru)? Check.
Apostrophe abuse? Check.
Unnecessary capitalisation? Check.
Spelling error? Check.

Heaven preserve us.

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Sunday, 4 November 2007

Me, myself and I

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A reader has emailed in.


One of my biggest pet peeves is when people on Facebook or Myspace will put captions on their photos reading "John, Bill, and I" or "Mark and I at the beach". Shouldn't it be "John, Bill, and me"? You wouldn't show a picture to someone and say "this is I at the beach". You would say "this is me at the beach" so shouldn't you use "me" even when you add other people's names to it?
Just wanted to make sure I was correct before I jumped on my soap box.


Christan, get out that soap box, chrome-plate it, polish it until it gleams, jump on it, brandish your megaphone with a smug flourish and shout about your peeve to your heart's content because you are absolutely right.

“I” is the first person singular pronoun when one is the subject of a sentence and “me” is the first person singular pronoun when one is the object. So “Tom, Dan and I made fun of the grammatically inaccurate drunk in the pub” is correct. However “the drunken man and his friends beat the living crap out of Tom, Dan and I” is incorrect.

I find this mistake especially annoying as it tends to be made by people trying too hard to avoid the word 'me' because it doesn't sound formal. In trying to sound clever they are making the same mistake they want to avoid. My advice: don't be so poncey!

Myself is another form that people wanting to appear grammatical like to overuse. Paul Brains* Brians covers this matter in his book Common Errors in English Usage, which I would suggest you all should buy if it wasn't freely available online.
'Myself' is no better than 'I' as an object. 'Myself' is not a sort of all-purpose intensive form of 'me' or 'I'. Use 'myself' only when you have used 'I' earlier in the same sentence: 'I am not particularly fond of goat cheese myself.' 'I kept half the loot for myself.'
Quite right, Paul. He goes on to summarise this topic better than I ever could, so I'll sneak out for a cup of tea while Paul finishes off for me.
All this confusion can easily be avoided if you just remove the second party from the sentences where you feel tempted to use “myself” as an object or feel nervous about “me.” You wouldn’t say, “The IRS sent the refund check to I,” so you shouldn’t say “The IRS sent the refund check to my wife and I” either. And you shouldn’t say “to my wife and myself.” The only correct way to say this is, “The IRS sent the refund check to my wife and me.” Still sounds too casual? Get over it.
*Well done for spotting my deliberate mistake, MRP. Good to know you are paying attention.

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Saturday, 3 November 2007

Verbing weirds language

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I like to verb words. I take nouns and adjectives and use them as verbs. I take nouns and adjectives and use them as verbs. Remember when access was a thing? Now, it's something you do. It got verbed. Verbing weirds language. Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin and hobbs

I've been meaning to write about this matter for sometime. Until I get round to it, I think I'll let Calvin and Hobbes give a brief overview.

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Friday, 2 November 2007

Comma, comma, comma, comma chameleon

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Why is this so hard for you?, originally uploaded by vebelfetzer.

Awful use of a comma and an inappropriate exclamation point.

This was brought to my attention by one of our new Twitter friends, Vebelfetzer (a.k.a. Eliza). Why don't you join in the fun challenge of attempting to write grammatically correct prose-bites using only 140 characters? When I joined Twitter I vowed never to stoop to txt spk or 1337 5p34k.

Follow us at

Apologies for the title of this post, comma puns aren't easy to make up.

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