Sunday, February 28, 2010

National Grammar Day!

We are giddy with excitement to announce the new site for National Grammar Day. Grammar Girl outdid herself.

Here's some of what you'll find:
National Grammar Day is Thursday, March 4. Let us know how you'll celebrate!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Sign of the Apocalypse: What Moe Knows

Moe's might know some things, but not how to make "party" plural. It's "parties," not "party's," even though the apostrophe is a festive punctuation mark.

Thanks to Katie A. for the photo.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pulp Diction: Parts 2 and 3

National Grammar Day fans, here are the latest two installments in John McIntyre's Pulp Diction, a bit of grammarnoir John has crafted to add a whiff of intrigue (or possibly body odor and gin) to our big day:

Part II: The Last Copy Editor
At the old Sun building on Calvert Street the front door yielded with a rusty creak. Dust lay thick on the guard’s desk, and small birds flew through broken windows. Bundled stacks of the last print edition displayed the headline: SEE US ON THE WEB.

Windows were out on the second floor, too, and scurrying and skittering sounds preceded me as I rounded the corner into the main room. Row on row of cubicles stretched out, each with a computer terminal like a headstone, each with a sad little collection of photos, figurines, long-dead plants. It was like walking the deck of the Mary Celeste.

On a bulletin board near the old copy desk, dangling from a single push pin, a yellowed memo listed a set of banned holiday cliches. The office next to the bulletin board was empty except for a Webster’s New World College Dictionary missing its cover.

A quavering voice asked, “Who’s there?”

Read on...

Part III: The Wider Web
“What happened to this place?”

I whirled around. “Fogarty! I told you to stay out.”

The Old Copy Editor said, “Fogarty? Mignon Fogarty? Great Fowler’s Ghost, is this Grammar Girl herself?”

“Yeah,” I said, “minus the cape and the winged boots.”

“Could I have your autograph, Ms. Fogarty? On my copy of The Grammar Devotional?”

“We’ve got more important things to do,” I said. She didn’t listen. She never listens.

“Why, certainly,” she said, whipping out a pen faster than the Earp boys slapped leather at the O.K. Corral. “But tell me, what happened to this place?”

Read on...

Accidentally funny headlines

For a good laugh, check out this feature on The Huffington Post.

A sample: Tiger Woods plays with his own balls, NIKE says

(So does everyone else, apparently!)

G, Is Something Missing?

We'll forgive the lack of punctuation. But was the situation so urgent "emergency" had to lose its G?

(We also sort of wonder if there are stairs besides the "exit stairs." Are there entrance ones? Are they reminding people to go toward the exit to get out of the building, instead of toward, say, the roof? Sometimes, one can over-explain. Sort of like we're doing right here.)
Thanks to Mike Clark for the photo.

Monday, February 22, 2010

New Rule for Quotation Marks

We invented this rule after a friend showed us the menu at a local burger joint.

You'll have to click to see the larger view, but the restaurant's motto is this: We use the freshest and highest quality ingredients to make sure our "burgers" taste great.

The new rule: No putting quotations around meat, unless the ingredients are not actually meat. And if that is the case, please do not feed it to us. Faux meat is as scary as misused quotation marks. Eek!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Sign of the Apocalypse: Intergalactic Edition

If you are from the planet Vend, then you may park here.

If you're just a vendor, well, find someplace else.

Thanks to Sabina R. for the photo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"In Climate": A Second Sighting

Robert C. points out a headline about a Mardi Gras party not impeded by "in climate" weather. The word is "inclement," and it means "stormy" or "severe."

Out-of-climate weather--raining frogs and such--is much more likely to end even the most festive Mardi Gras affair.

(Here's a recent post highlighting the same error.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What the Tuck?

It's K-E-N-T-U-C-K-Y. Kentucky. Not Kentcuky, which sounds like a good name for the stuff that gets caught in the sink drain. According to this story on Yahoo, Nike is to blame. We're not fond of the "fail" expression tacked onto everything these days, but when your company is named for the goddess of victory, it seems apropos.

Thanks to Peggy H. for sending the photo.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jerk in the Box

Here's a letter to the editor of the Chattanooga Times/Free Press:

In the newspaper (Saturday) there was a brief AP story titled "Edwards' aide turns over sex tape to FBI." According to the AP, "Andrew Young said Friday he has the original copy of the tape showing Edwards in a sexual encounter in a safe deposit box in Atlanta." From the way the sentence is written, one would have to conclude that former Sen. Edwards has a bizarre notion of romance and that he owns a very large safety deposit box.

Michael V. Woodward, Hixson (Tn)
Har har! Thanks to Julia G. for sending us the letter.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Sign of the Apocalypse: Oh, Shoot!

We think they meant "chute."

Thanks to Erin S. for the photo.

Friday Sign of the Apocalypse: Unbeleafable

What do you suppose they meant by "leaft"? Did he intend to strike terror into the hearts of innocents by becoming a Quaking Aspen?

Thanks to Linnea D. for the photo.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

National Grammar Day: And So It Begins

John McIntyre, the wizard behind the words at You Don't Say, has crafted a new installment of Pulp Diction--the world's first and most gripping bit of grammarnoir.

Something to note about this year's tale: He introduces a new character, Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl. He even calls her "pert."

This means it's time to announce the news we've been keeping to ourselves. Mignon is the official host of National Grammar Day 2010. (Insert delighted gasping sound effect here, followed by a smattering of giddy applause.)

She will be dishing up useful tips, pulling back the curtain on grammar myths, and generally delighting us March 4.

Without further ado, we give you Pulp Diction.

Pulp Diction: 15 items or trouble

You get ’em in the checkout at Safeway — harried mothers with kids clamoring for candy, bleary-eyed old guys pushing a cartload into the fifteen-items line, kids with green hair buying exotic produce. Some chat with the cashier, but nobody talks to the bag boy. Fine with me. I liked anonymity when I was a copy editor. I like it better now.

I was pushing a train of carts back toward the store when she grabbed my arm. I turned. “You,” I said. It wasn’t friendly.

“Mr. McIntyre, I really need to talk with you,” she said. Mostly, she was a pert little thing, but this time her voice trembled.

“I don’t have anything to say to you, Fogarty.” That’s Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Dame, Grammar Girl, something like that. Big-time blogger, raking in big bucks from rubes who couldn’t tell the present from the preterite if it jabbed them in the keister.

“Please, it’s urgent. I’ve heard from Martha Brockenbrough.”

More female trouble. The last time I saw the Brockenbrough skirt, I was in the witness stand, and she was at the defense table, trying — not convincingly — to look innocent. I’d turned her in for a homicide. I didn’t stay for the rest of the trial, but I’d heard she copped a plea to manslaughter while the jury was still out. Now she’s in the Big House for a good long while. You know the story.

“Sister, I’ve still got nothing to say to you. How the hell did you know to look for me here, anyhow?”
Read the rest.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thinking about Valentine's Day?

Here's a love song card you can buy on Etsy. It's only $4, because unnecessary quotation marks make everything feel cheap. "Trust us."

What do you think they meant by "The Sweetest Thing"? We at SPOGG hope they mean kittens, or maybe candy, because anything more personal should never be printed on a card.

Oh, and about the proper use of quotation marks: They belong around direct quotes and words you are referring to as words themselves. For example, the "sweetest thing" in that poem couldn't possibly be a reference to the ability to achieve an orgasm. No one would be that gross.

Quotation marks are not to be used to highlight the adorableness of certain expressions. Nor are they to be used to show that you're kidding or being clever. Your writing has to be funny enough to stand without the air quotes.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Grammar for Spammers

We don't know what's funnier, here:

- The name Walmsley Geoffrey Robert
- The idea that we might have $2 million in our bank account
- The semicolon after "Attention," along with the rest of the crazy grammar and punctuation here.

Just think of the damage spammers could do if they hired editors and made their evil plots sound plausible. Until then, smirk away. We might have missed a [sic] or two, but you get the idea:

Attention; [sic] Beneficiary,

My names[sic] is Mr. WALMSLEY GEOFFREY ROBERT O.C.U Investigation Office UK,[sic] there is presently a counter claims [sic]
on your funds by one MR.William Dickson, who is presently[sic] trying to make us believe that you are dead and even explained that you
entered into an agreement with him before your death,[sic] to help you in receiving your fund[sic] US$ 2,000,000.00[sic] So here comes the big question.

Did you sign any Deed of Assignment in favor of (William Dickson)[sic].[sic] thereby making him the current beneficiary with his following account details:

MR William Dickson,
AC/NUMBER: 6503809428.

We shall proceed to issue all payments details to the said Mr. William Dickson,[sic] if we do not hear from you within the next two working days from today[sic].

(Assistance) Chairman
O.C.U Investigation Office UK
Bureau of Financial and Banking Crime

Saturday, February 06, 2010

When Homophones Attack

From the New York Times this morning: a goof for the Internet age.
Southern Discomfort

Jenny Sanford, the first lady of South Carolina, is publishing her memoir and has filed for divorce from the governor, Mark Sanford, who ducked out of site for five days last June.

Out of "sight" would have been the right choice here. We are guilty of the same types of bad-homophone attacks, though, so we are only wincing in commiseration.

(Note: Edited after we had our morning coffee/comment from Barry Leiba.)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday Sign of the Apocalypse: Pubic Enemy No. 1

You know politics are getting ugly when they threaten to take away the Pubic Option.

Thanks to Jody for the photo (from Huffington Post).

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Music to Our...Eyes?

Megan C. sent along this photograph of a sign with a correct apostrophe. (Correct! How strange for us!)

This sign is for an association of musicians, plural. It is, therefore, a musicians' association. We press our hands together repeatedly to make applause! Bravo! Bravo!

(The reason there is no "s" after the apostrophe is that you don't pronounce that letter. It isn't musicians-ez association. When you do pronounce the letter, "the bus's wheels," then go ahead and use the "s." Or don't--plenty of style guides argue for the omission of the "s" when making plurals of words that end in "s." Just be consistent.)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Diagnosis: Guiter?

Thanks to Faith P. for sending along this photo of a musical instrument she has at her house. The "guiter" is a combination of guitar and goiter, and you play it by moving your scarf quickly to and fro across your bulging neck. The sound is unlike anything else, which is a polite way of saying it will cause you to run screaming from the room.