Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Pheonix Way

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That would be 'Phoenix' then.

pheonix, originally uploaded by jhcl+.

This road can be found in Portishead, Bristol.

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Monday, 28 April 2008

The Impotence of Proofreading

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Friday, 25 April 2008

London, bloody London

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London is many things to me: it's a place I can visit to have my identity as a northerner emphatically reaffirmed; it's a place I associate with Wembley heartbreak; and now, it's my number one grammar tourism hotspot.

During my visit of one week ago, I clapped my ever-bleary eyes on this little beauty:

Extremely pleased with what I had found whilst looking upwards, as I continued along the pavement the very next window of the same shop led me to an orgasm that only a misplaced apostrophe can induce:

How I howled with joy. Two separate cases of apostrophe abuse within two metres of each other. A veritable crime wave. Amongst the local King’s Cross scenery of whores and smack, I was finding my own seedy gratification. Hedonism gone mad.

I was in London, since you ask, for the quite excellent Camden Crawl. With so many bands to choose from, I was forced to eliminate first those whose names made a little bit of sick appear in my mouth. These I list for you:

Thecocknbullkid [you are cocksntwats]

Does It Offend You, Yeah? [everything that’s wrong with everything]

Lets Wrestle [if that apostrophe error wasn’t bad enough, then I give you their song ‘I wont lie to you’]

Operator Please [‘Operator, Please’ surely?]

Innerpartysystem [just fuck off]

However, I was drawn inexorably towards:

Wrong and brilliant, on every level.

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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

It doensn't matter

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Corey found the following typo in a Hallmark card he bought.doensn't

Not content with sending the typo to us, he confronted Hallmark directly via the modern communication channel of email. Luckily for us, he sent a copy of said email along with the scan. And very amusing it is.

I believe I won the grand prize in the "My-First-Grader-Could-Spell-Better-Than-This Typographical Error Contest." I recently purchased the Shoebox card with "Really Dreadful Hemorrhoids" printed on the front. At first glance, "hemorrhoids" would be expected to have the typo. However, you outsmarted me. The error was discreetly concealed in a commonly used word, which some spell-checkers insist is not a word at all. On the inside it reads "are wished upon anyone who **DOENSN'T** wish you a happy birthday." Please send my prize to the address listed below.

Thank you very much.

Corey *********

101 Spell-Checker Way

IdiotTown USA

There are two things I like about this. Firstly, I like the sarcastic tone of the email. Secondly, I love the fact that Corey saw a card that read "Really Dreadful Hemorrhoids" on the front and thought it so suited to his requirements that he didn't even want to check the inside copy.

"Really Dreadful Hemorrhoids? Sold!" is possibly what Corey said.

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Monday, 21 April 2008

"This" is "just" "ridiculous"

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IMG_6492, originally uploaded by bblivit.

Our Twitter friend Laura K brought this to my attention.

Just for the record: it's never OK to use quotation marks for emphasis. Never ever. It's also your moral and legal obligation to slap those who do. In the face.

There is another picture from the same establishment:


Sunday, 20 April 2008

The choise is yours

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Sent in by my girlfriend, Natalie. After despairing of my pedantry for so long, she now seems to be taking the if-you-can't-beat-them approach.


Anyone for MIX salad?

*UPDATE* Oops, it turns out this wasn't sent to me by my girlfriend after all but my friend and colleague, Paul, who took the picture in St. Pancreas station and sent it to me by MMS. Due to the limitations of my phone I misattributed the source. Tech and social media fans should check out Paul's blog, Blending the Mix.

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Saturday, 19 April 2008

Guilty Secrets

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Despite being, as some would have it, an overly-picky grammar snob, I have to confess to several compulsions that frequently make me out to be a hypocrite. These guilty secrets are either mistakes that I have to take real care to avoid or perceived errors that I don't see any wrong in.

  1. I sometimes use 'less' when I mean 'fewer'.

I needed to get this one out of the way. Very occasionally, when I've been in a hurry, or under duress, or drunk, or being tortured; I have made this mistake. There is no excuse for this and a good few hours cilice-time were required afterwards. Moving on swiftly...

    2.   I have to fight the urge to write 'definately'.

This one annoys the crap out of me. I know how to spell definitely. I spot other people's misspelling of this all the time. Yet, if I'm not concentrating, I'll reread a sentence I've written and to my shame that horrible little 'a' will be grinning back at me. I think this is to do with phonetics. When I say, "definitely," I pronounce it  df-ntl and the urge to spell it so needs to be quashed when writing.

Elisabeth helpfully pointed me in the direction of the website when I confessed this sin via twitter.

    3.   I use they, their and them as singular pronouns when no gender is specified.

And I'd do it again in a heartbeat, a heartbeat I tell you! Unless one is writing a contract, using 'he or she', 'he/she' or (lord preserve us) 's/he' is just stupid. And unless one wishes to come across as a pompous twit, one might want to avoid using 'one'.

    4.   I treat collective nouns as plurals.

Being in the UK, this isn't really a problem. There are no hard rules and it's generally accepted that one can go with the pronoun that sounds appropriate. This only becomes a problem if inconsistencies creep in. I really get annoyed by a current BBC Radio 1 trailer for the Monsters of Rock festival, in which Daniel P. Carter says the following phrase.

...and the legend that are Kiss.

Damn it, Daniel! I don't care how 'rock' you are, you make sure that your verb, subject and object match. Either Kiss is legend or Kiss are legends.  Will Smith, on the other hand, makes crap films.

In the USA, all collective nouns are treated as singular. This can lead to some awkward constructions. Paul Brians, American author of Common Errors in English thinks the British way is sensible.

The British also quite sensibly treat collective bodies like governmental units and corporations as plural (“Parliament have approved their agenda”) whereas Americans insist on treating them as singular.

    5.   I use 'sat' in the present tense.
This is a regional thing. In north-west England, where I live and grew up, it's very common to say, "I'm sat outside the pub," instead of, "I'm sitting outside the pub."  I obviously try to avoid this when writing but I need to be extra careful. GrammarBlog's own Paddy pulled me up on this when I commented on his blog back in December.


There you have it. I feel better for getting that off my chest.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Punctuation Police

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This isn't helpful or informative. It did, however, make me laugh until coffee came out of my right nostril.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

You want me to take my shirt off?

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Our pal Jason's written in again to tell us about this confusing sign.



I don't know where to begin. This could mean that shirts, pets, shoes and service are all forbidden on the premises. Or perhaps pets are mandatory. Who wears more than one shirt anyway?


I think the simplest way to fix this is to separate the "No pets" message from the dress code.


No pets.

No shirt, no shoes: no service


However he phrases his sign, he needs to get rid of that stupid illustration at the bottom; that would cause me to snap. Perhaps I could protest by letting a dog, dressed in shoes and a shirt, into his shop. Would the dog qualify for service?

'TAKE', control

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There is no excuse!, originally uploaded by incurable_hippie.

I find this really confusing.

'TAKE', control... Is that supposed to allude to something? If so, what?

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

It gets you wasted. Literally.

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Why don't people realise that one can't simply throw words together at random and hope that the meaning of the resulting phrase is as intended?

adkx3l.jpg (JPEG Image, 614x461 pixels)

Seriously, if you are smoking AIDS, stop it right now. Syphilis is much better.

The interesting thing about this is it's not technically incorrect but the connotations of the ambiguity certainly demand a rewrite.


Found via Digg.

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Sunday, 13 April 2008

Penes to an end

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Despite my grammatical obsessions, I'm nevertheless a staunch supporter of the idea that usage must ultimately triumph over dictum. Furthermore, a classical education is no excuse for pretentious, pseudo-Latin mangling.

So it's great to see GrammarBlog paragon AA Gill extol these concepts in his food column this week. I must admit, however, that pluralising penis as 'penes' does have a certain appeal, and I'm seriously contemplating using it in the politest of company.

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Thursday, 10 April 2008

Train's in vain

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Following the haphazard selling off of Britain’s railways, stations and rolling stock, it comes as no surprise that Network Rail has now tendered out its use of English to an unidentified Icelandic investment group. So far we have seen the word ‘tracks’ spelt ‘trax’, and buffet car has become BufetKar.

Now we’ve got this, sent in by the very kind and vigilant Sven Latham:

This entry will now terminate due to the wrong kind of grammar. Please alight ensuring you have all your personal belongings with you, and give thought to how superfluous that ‘personal’, always used in on-train announcements here, is.

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Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Stationary Greeting Cards

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You'd think a stationer would know how to spell stationery correctly.
stationary, originally uploaded by fujiellena.

This is a common mistake. You'd think a stationer would know how to spell stationery correctly. On the plus side, those greeting cards stay nice and still when you pick them up.

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