Friday, January 11, 2008

Grammar Fussing

I'm obsessing again over grammar, spelling and general style. Hardly a day goes by when I don't spit some coffee at my monitor while reading something poorly formed. And it's not just bloggers, the MSM can quite easily use their thick style manuals as door stops as well. Listening to the Radio can be a hoot as well, especially at night when they put the B teams on.

Before I go any farther I should admit that I'm just as bad, given half a chance.

So here are my latest requests of things that you cease and desist in:

1. Use of the phrase in point of fact. This is meaningless chin dribbling gibberish. Stop it.

2. Use of then instead of than. Amy has bigger hair then Jenna.

3. Use of going forward. The other night the Edmonton Oilers won a hockey game in regulation for the first time in ages. After the game a reporter asked a player in a locker room scrum: important is it to continue this kind of play going forward..." What a stupid question to begin with. What are you supposed to answer, well going forward we kind of want to lose a lot... Going forward, presumably in time, is sort of a basic assumption of reality that need not be constantly re-affirmed.

4. People who say or write ANN Rand instead of Ayn Rand. You're a pretty incompetent libertarian if you don't know her name. There probably is an Ann Rand somewhere. Pity her. Think of the hate mail.

5. Never start off an explanation with I personally believe. If you are using this phrase you are in semi-lucid companionship with Miss Teen USA South Carolina. You will need a good map to find your way out of that quagmire. Unless you use this phrase we will have to assume that you don't believe what you are saying.

6. Stop using any word that ends in ess, trix or ette. Poetess, Authoress, Seductress, Dominatrix. One of the charming things about French is that the gender of a noun has no connection whatsoever with its meaning. You should always keep people guessing when it comes to gender. Words that have fancy-smancy gender endings, especially of the feminizing kind, are hereby declared poor style.

7. Overuse of LOL. If you LOL me one more time I'm going to come over there and KYA. Besides, I know you're just being polite. I'm not all that funny.What would it take to have a kind of an internet counter-insurgency to get rid of the use of LOL? Who's with me?

8. Use of through instead of done. Through is mostly a preposition and is abused this way. Correct usage: I tried to walk through the glass wall at Second Cup instead of using the door. Therefore I'm done with them. I'm through with you should be I'm done with you. Writers make it worse by writing the homophonic[2]version: I'm threw with you, or the non-existant I'm thru with you, Or the IM version, Im thr w u which makes you look illiterate. By the way, its a mean thing to say to someone who probably loved you a lot.

9. Avoid use of the words literal or literally. As Ambrose Bierce[1] observed, they are
Often incorrectly used in support of exaggeration or violent metaphor."
Metaphors should never be violent. Not even uppity. Avoid phrases like Stephen Harper literally kicked the chair across the room. Even if it is true.

10. Irrelevant adjectives are distracting. According to the NHL web site,
Twenty years ago Ron Hextall became the first NHL goalie to physically score a goal."
The reader is tempted to believe that prior to this accomplishment all NHL goalies scored goals metaphysically or in some ethereal non-physical way.

I have more but I think I'll stop now in the interest of public safety.

[1] Ambrose Pierce appears courtesy of the A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults freely available at the Gutenburg Project. [2]A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word but has a different meaning. People who use homophones are called homophonics, and are part of an agressive militant agenda.

Update: Reposted 11-Jan-2008 09:00 am MST. Original time stamp was incorrect.
Update: Fixed typo: it's not its. How embarassing. Please recommend this post

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