It's true, I do this all day long. It's very tiring but strangely satisfying.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I hereby second John McIntyre's "another damn word of the year, word of the decade": craptastic.
(Wordnik.com also lists craptasticularific. How craptastic is that?)
Here's wishing everyone a decidedly uncraptastic holiday season!
(T-shirt pictured from Craptastic.com--yep, there's a website--is available here.)
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Since William Safire's passing this year, there's been a gaping hole in the New York Times Magazine's language column. Ben Zimmer has been the most frequent contributor, and his columns range from zany to real zingers.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
It was OK for Cole Porter in "You Do Something to Me" to write: "You do that voodoo that you do so well."
Dec. 23 Addendum
The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage makes an interesting distinction: "voodoo is a religion with many followers in Africa and the West Indies, not to mention the United States. They are offended by disparaging uses of voodoo to mean irrational beliefs."
It's not the spelling of voodoo. It's the disparaging use of the word denoting the religion that's considered offensive. Consider the difference with Gypsy versus Roma. They are two distinct words, the first considered offensive, the second the accepted for the itinerant peoples mostly in southern Europe. Voodoo is a corruption of vodou, but is it really offensive? I'm not convinced.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
And so, the Correction of the Year, proclaimed by Regret the Error, in this horrible one for print media (which is hemorrhaging jobs at an alarming rate), was perpetrated by the Washington Post:
A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number.
Enough digital ink has been spilled on this reported error by a culturally ignorant copy editor, who seemingly didn't know Public Enemy's 911 song, and the paper's two-week stonewalling. Yeah, well, whatever.
This morning I met with a wonderful coterie of copy editors, current and retired, who have upheld the highest standards in print, online, and even in broadcast television and films. We discussed the pros and cons of jerrican versus jerry can, if you can believe that.
Also this morning, Garrison Keillor on NPR spoke about this year's regretful passing of William Safire, and his advice "to never split infinitives" and "in the end, avoid clichés like the plague."
Language is a splendiferous thing. I'm delighted to spend my days parsing language, and sharing with you.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The blogosphere is a wonderfully wily world. From today's After Deadline column comes this cleanup effort of a recent New York Times blog post:
Oil Sands Clean-Up Efforts Criticized
Pembina oil sands analyst Simon Dyer said in a release that it is “troubling” that most producers don’t appear to be moving towards compliance.
Many style errors in this blog post. “Cleanup” should not have a hyphen. “Pembina oil sands analyst” is a false title (make it “Simon Dyer, a Pembina oil sands analyst”). Proper sequence of tenses calls for “was” and “did not” after the past-tense “said.” And it should be “toward,” not “towards.”
It's probably a losing battle to impose high standards online, but I applaud the editors for their valiant efforts.
See also the discussion at the top of the column about plural verbs with the phrase "one of those," as in: "He is one of those bloggers who refuse to accept grammatical mistakes."
Colloquially, one wants to use a singular verb with "He is one," e.g., refuses. Grammatically, the plural verb is correct. Turn the phrase around and it becomes clear: Of those bloggers who refuse to accept grammatical mistakes, he is one.
(Pictured T-shirt available at Zazzle.com)