Friday, June 29, 2007

Something We Like

We've subscribed to quite a few language and grammar newsletters. We particularly like Brian Garner's daily e-mails from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Today's entry:

-fy.. Most verbs ending in "-fy" -- from the French "-fier" or Latin "-ficare" "to do or make" -- are preceded by an "-i-" {classify}. But a few aren't {liquefy} {putrefy} {stupefy} because the corresponding infinitives in French and Latin are spelled with an "-e-" ("liquefier," etc.), and the words were borrowed directly from those forms. It's common to misspell them "-ify." The same switch occurs in the corresponding nouns, too ("liquefaction," etc.).

gabardine; gaberdine. "Gabardine" is the modern fabric having a hard finish and diagonal ribs. "Gaberdine" is the outer garment traditionally associated with Jews of the Middle Ages.

Gaelic; Gallic. "Gaelic" /GAY-lik/ means "Scottish" or "Irish"; "Gallic" /GAL-ik/ means "French." As a noun, "Gaelic" denotes the language spoken by the Celts of the Scottish Highlands -- or, more broadly, by the Celts of Ireland and the Isle of Man as well. "Gallic," though formerly denoting a Frenchman, is not used as a noun in modern English.

gainsay; contradict. Originally "gainsay" [ME "to say against"] was the popular word and "contradict" the erudite one. Today just the opposite is true: "This is an interesting example of the substitution of a learned word for a popular word.'Withsay' [or, later, 'gainsay'] is pure Anglo-Saxon, and 'contradict' is a 'learned' borrowing [from Latin]." James B. Greenough & George L. Kittredge, Words and Their Ways in English Speech 215 (1902). "Gainsay" is now a formal word more common in British English than American.

Quotation of the Day: "Murdering English is common on both sides of the
Atlantic." S.P.B. Mais, The Writing of English 198 (1935).

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Spelling: an International Concern

This made us say "huh."

Nokia Asked To Apologize For Spelling Mistakes

June 29, 2007

Wang Yingde, a lawyer from Hunan Qishun Law Firm, has told local media that he will join with other Chinese consumers to launch a lawsuit against Nokia for including incorrect Chinese characters on Nokia phones.

On May 28, a consumer surnamed Zhang reported to Chinese media that he had found more than 30 wrong or misspelled characters on Nokia's mobile phones. Zhang, who previously was a Chinese teacher, believed these incorrect characters not only harmed consumer's interests, but also undermined the great power of the Chinese language. He therefore filed a lawsuit against Nokia and requested the company to recall all the problematic mobile phones and apologize to Chinese consumers.

Wang says he will now provide legal aid and ask the mobile phone manufacturer to make an apology for the incorrect characters and pay RMB315 in compensation. The numbers 315 are symbolic of March 15, which is World Consumer Rights Days.

Nokia, however, has told local media that there are no quality problems with their
mobile phones, so they won't return the products to consumers or recall

Monday, June 25, 2007

So Close, Seattle Times

From a Seattle Times article talking about a beauty product:
When added to warm water, the JellyBath powder turns into a frothy, scented jelly that envelopes your feet in warm goo.

The word, alas, is envelops. We've tried JellyBath, though. It's fun stuff.

Hello, Encarta Readers

SPOGG would like to welcome those of you who found us through and Encarta this morning. We're glad to have you on board, even if it has revealed our idiocy in posting the SPOGG membership card. We'll get that link fixed today.


Sunday, June 24, 2007


From the wires:

Spelling errors found on Juneteenth statue
Morning Journal Writer

LORAIN -- ''Coutny,'' and ''Presdient.''

Those misspellings are on the back of the bas-relief statue placed at Black River Landing during the Juneteenth dedication June 16. The African Heritage Walkway Committee, the group responsible for the dedication, discovered the spelling errors located on the back of the monument.

''When we looked at it after the dedication ceremony, we noticed these things and immediately called the company,'' committee President Sylvia DuVall said.


Quiz: Which Punctuation Mark Are You?

We took the test and determined we are a hyphen.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Prooreading Is Impotent

A bit of filth within -- enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gertrude Stein, Tell Us What You Really Think...

This made us laugh today:
There are some punctuations that are interesting and there aresome punctuations that are not. Let us begin with the punctuations that are not. Of these the one but the first and the most the completely mostuninteresting is the question mark. The question mark is alright when itis all alone when it is used as a brand on cattle or when it could be used in decoration but connected with writing it is completely entirely com-pletely uninteresting. It is evident that is you ask a question you ask a question but anybody who can read at all knows when a question is a question as it is written in writing. Therefore I ask you therefore wherefore should one use the question mark. Beside it does not in its form go with ordinary printing and so it pleases neither the eye nor the ear and it is therefore like a noun, just an unnecessary name of some-thing. A question is a question, anybody can know that a question is a question and so why add to it the question mark when it is alreadythere when the question is already there in the writing. Therefore I never could bring myself to use a question mark, I always found it positively revolting, and now very few do use it. Exclamation marks havethe same difficulty and also quotation marks, they are unnecessary, they are ugly, they spoil the line of the writing or the printing and any-way what is the use, if you do not know that a question is a question what is the use of its being a question. The same thing is true of a quotation.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

We're Barfing on the Inside

While researching verbs, we encountered a little gift from the federal government. And by gift, we mean freaky and disturbing propaganda campaign in which they have trademarked the word "verb" and coined another, "yellowball," to get our kids exercising.

We quote (verbatim):

VERB™ It’s what you do. is a national, multicultural, social marketing campaign* coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

* Social marketing campaigns apply commercial marketing strategies to influence the voluntary behavior of target audiences to improve personal and social welfare.

Even more choice language from this campaign:

Nothing replaces the rush and exhilaration of physical activity. Yellowball ignites desire for physical activity freeing kids to play out their dreams — I can't NOT play!

We recognize that obesity is a serious health problem. But we don't think randomly distributed yellow rubber balls, trademarked parts of speech and improperly inserted periods are the solution. Funding and time set aside for PE classes would be a bit more effective, we daresay.

But we digress. And we'll move on to other other social programs that could make good use of parts of speech.

ColonTM. It's what you probe. is a national, multicultural, social marketing campaign* coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to get more adults to have colonoscopies. (Partner program is SemicolonTM. It's what you're left with if you don't get scoped.)

CommaTM. It's when you pause. is a national, multicultural, social marketing
campaign* coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to encourage drivers to slow
down at unrestricted intersections.

PeriodTM. It's what you miss. is a national, multicultural, social marketing
campaign* coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to encourage contraceptive use
by sexually active teenagers. Wait, no, scratch that. Abstinence-only education
has been proven to be a more ineffective way to spend tax dollars.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Supposably, Life is too Short

With this post, we say a sad farewell to Steve Higgins, who has died of brain cancer. He was a good editor, and a good friend, and the one who taught us that supposedly was the correct form of the word. We were co-editors of our high school newspaper, and he had the much sharper eye.

In short, he was SPOGG before there was SPOGG. And he was so much more. The world is a dimmer place without him.

Here's his obituary:

From Jay Pulizzi
Remembering Steve Higgins
June 18, 2007

(Jay Pulizzi, who covers the White House for Newswires, befriended Steve Higgins in 1992.)

Steve Higgins was a colleague and cherished friend to hundreds of us around the world. In nearly 11 years at Dow Jones, Steve worked in Harborside, London and Washington, most recently as a copy editor at Corporate Filings Alert. At each stop, his kindness, laser wit and sharp editing earned him legions of friends and admirers.

"He was one of life's genuine characters," said The Wall Street Journal's Alistair MacDonald, whose copy Steve edited (salvaged, some would say) during a four-year stint in London.
In newsrooms full of sloppily clad hacks, Steve's immaculate - sometimes hand-made - suits stood out. As did his eclectic interests - from fishing and painting to the intricacies of English football and cuisine. He was a gracious host, whose home was always open to friends looking for an elaborate meal or traveling colleagues in need of a place to crash. His social network was vast.

He introduced at least two colleagues to their future wives, and is responsible for launching countless other friendships.

London reporter Alen Mattich said, "There aren't many folks like him, not just at Dow, but anywhere. It makes the loss that much wider and deeper."

Steve's brain cancer diagnosis came in June 2004. Days later, he had surgery and began the long fight back to a normal life. From the beginning, he always had hope and he always had the love of his life, Tara. They met in 2002, when a mutual friend set them up. They married on

Aug. 1, 2004, just after Steve's first surgery.

The disease struck Steve again in 2005, leading to another emergency brain surgery, a round of high-dose chemotherapy and stem-cell treatment. Steve's life did return to normal, and he was able to do the things he loved. He traveled with Tara to Hawaii and the Amalfi Coast, among other holidays. And though the cancer returned three months ago and progressed quickly, Steve continued his work raising money for brain cancer research. Not only did he raise $70,000 through May's Race for Hope - he walked part of the 5K course.

Through it all, Steve never gave up fighting and he never lost the "top-drawer sense of humor" that EMEA Resources Managing Editor Adam Smallman remembers. He was "a lovely bloke," Adam said. The feeling was mutual. Steve loved so many people at Dow Jones, and appreciated all the support you gave him during his campaign against cancer.

Unsurprisingly, Steve's life prior to Dow Jones was exciting and eclectic. He grew up in Seattle, with a two-year excursion to Lausanne, Switzerland. In high school he was the coxswain for the men's crew and was voted valedictorian of his class. He went on to Yale, graduating in 1992 with a degree in English. At Yale, he received the Timothy Dwight College Master's Cup for contributions to campus life. Before joining Dow Jones, Steve worked for CBS'
Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., and as a field organizer for the 1992 Clinton-Gore presidential campaign.

In addition to Tara, Steve is survived by his sister Sara, of Mountain View, CA; parents Robert and Genie of Seattle; and maternal grandmother Louise Sharp, of Overland Park, KS. Tara requests that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to the Massachusetts-based Brain Tumor Society or Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure.

Jay Pulizzi

------ End of Forwarded Message

Grammar Quote of the Day

Says Dennis Miller:

I've always loved the flirtatious tango of consonants and vowels, the sturdy dependability of nouns and capricious whimsy of verbs, the strutting pageantry of the adjective and the flitting evanescence of the adverb, all kept safe and orderly by those reliable little policemen, punctuation marks. Wow! Think I got my ass kicked in high school?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Candy Spelling Needs to Dash

This is what Tori Spelling's mom wrote to Britney Spears:

You've driven me back to my laptop to ask why, if you have to slither in and out of cars, do clumsy imitations of gymnasts and wear clothes that are just too tight, trashy or skimpy, do you have to pose in front of photographers all the time?

We had to read this sentence several times to understand what Candy Spelling was talking about. We think sentence diagramming exercises are boring, so we're not going to go through that here. But this is a case where the use of a dash -- or a decision to break the sentence into two parts -- would have been a good thing.

Otherwise, when you nest clauses into clauses, it can be hard to keep track of your point. So, here are two choices:

You've driven me back to my laptop to ask why -- if you have to slither in and out of cars, do clumsy imitations of gymnasts and wear clothes that are just too tight, trashy or skimpy -- do you have to pose in front of photographers all the time?

If you must slither in and out of cars, doing clumsy imitations of gymnasts and wearing clothes that are just too tight, trashy or skimpy, why do you have to pose in front of photographers all the time?

Or, the shorter version:

If you must slither in and out of cars wearing clothes skimpy, trashy clothes, why do you pose in front of photographers all the time?

Another choice, of course, is to keep your nose-job out of other people's business, especially when you have a daughter whose million-dollar wedding ended in divorce after she had an affair with her married co-star. Then, no one will mock your writing or your own family dramas. Just a thought...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Obsessive Possessive

Proof that the rules of grammar can change quickly. We remember learning the possessives rule this letter writer refers to:

Passion Over The Possessive


June 12 2007

Q: Whatever happened to the rule of punctuation that a singular noun ending in the letter "s" is made possessive by simply adding an apostrophe, not an apostrophe and an "s," e.g. "James'" not "James's"? Everywhere, I see the latter. Has that rule changed?

- John Anderson, Dayton, Tenn.

A: It's appropriate that this question comes from Dayton, site of the famous Scopes Trial of 1925. For the punctuation battle between the Add-the-"s" Crowd and the Drop-the-"s" Gang has acquired the intensity of that classic confrontation between the Creationists and Evolutionists.

Like Mr. Anderson, I was taught to form the possessive of a singular noun ending in "s" by simply adding an apostrophe - no additional "s" needed. Of course, I was also taught that there were nine planets and getting a bad sunburn was a harmless rite of summer.

But omitting the second "s" in singular possessives ending in "s" seems to have gone the way of hula hoops, station wagons and poodle skirts. More and more writers and editors now favor the double "s." A random sampling of recently published books yields "Congress's move," "bus's route," "boss's memo."

One holdout group has always been - wouldn't you know it? - journalists. Until recently, the Associated Press Stylebook recommended using only the apostrophe to form the possessive of a singular word ending in "s," presumably to save time, space and ink.

But the 2002 edition of the A.P. Stylebook joined the crowd. It acceded to the demand that an additional "s" be added to singular nouns ("witness's answer"), but held out for a single "s" if the noun was a name ("James' book") or was followed by a word beginning with "s" ("witness' story").

It's worth noting that, by convention, almost all publications, including newspapers, books and magazines, have always allowed a single "s" for possessives in four categories:

1. personal pronouns ("yours," "theirs"); 2. corporate or national names formed from a plural word ("General Dynamics' employees," "United States' policies"); 3. possessive nouns ending in an "s" sound used before the word "sake" ("for goodness' sake," for appearance's sake"); 4. biblical or classical names ending with a "zes" or "eez" sound ("Jesus' teachings," "Xerxes' leadership").

Follow these rules, and be good for goodness' sake!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

LOL Cats Make Bumperstickers?

A few months back, those wacky LOLCats -- with their bad grammar and adorable expressions -- started making the rounds on the Internet.

Get a load of this funny, funny feline!

I can has cheezburger! Hiliariously ungrammatical! Either that, or deeply insulting to housepets, who we suspect have outstanding verbal skills, and could probably spell, too, if only they could hold pencils in their thumbless paws.

We do have a point in posting this, however.

While walking the dog this morning, our husband came across the following bumper sticker:

Love us, not eat us? Have these people no respect for animals? Do they really want to make them sound like idiots?

It should be "Love us; don't eat us." Or, "Love us -- don't eat us." Or, "It's 'love us,' not 'eat us'."

Bad animal-rights activists! Bad! No, you cannot has cheezburger! (Even if we are sympathetic to your point of view.)

Meanwhile, our meat-eating husband insists we include this video as a response to your lousy bumper sticker:

Should the Comma Be Offended?

From the New York Times:
Sperm are also fast and as cute as tadpoles. They have chubby teardrop heads and stylish, tapering tails, and they glide, slither, bumble and do figure-eights. So while a father may not be entitled to take the same pride in his sperm as he does in his kids, it's fair to celebrate the single-minded cellular commas that helped give those children their start.
Are we now going to compare the asterisk to the anus? (*) The pound sign to the vagina? (#) The exclamation point to, well, the penis? (!) It's punctuation, people. Let's show a little respect.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Semicolon: Behind Closed Doors

We found this sentence today in a story about open offices vs. the sort with closing doors, and had ourselves a bit of a laugh:

"Being a literary editor requires considerable privacy so that we can discuss copy with some of the very highest level authors in the land. [SPOGG: "The mid-list authors, we don't care so much about..."] Seemingly petty things, like whether something should be a comma or a semicolon, ensures the quality. That simply could not happen in an open-plan office."

This is because the sort of high-maintenance git who can only talk about punctuation behind closed doors is the sort of person other people laugh at. It would be hard to get work done with people giggling all the time.

Also, "ensures" should be "ensure." Petty things -- such as subject and verb agreement -- ensure quality.

The article...

One-Letter Words

SPOGG loves dictionaries of all sorts. Big ones, dusty ones, old ones. Good ones tell us not just spellings and meanings, but origins of words and their use.

Until two days ago, though, SPOGG didn't realize there was a dictionary of one-letter words. This might just be our favorite dictionary of all, though we really can't say for certain until we also review author Craig Conley's other works, including, but not limited to "The Carte Blanche Atlas of Uncharted Territories" and "Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound." Genius, people. Pure genius.

Learn more about Craig and his work on his Web site, One-Letter Words.

Errors Engraved in Precious Metal

The Los Angeles Times reports on spelling errors that have made their way onto the Stanley Cup:

Spelling isn’t that grate in hoky

Dear Engraver, make that T-e-e-m-u S-e-l-a-n-n-e.

The Anaheim Ducks' names will be inscribed on the Stanley Cup later this year, but the execution isn't always perfect.

In 1963, the Toronto Maple Leafs' name was misspelled as Maple Leaes.

The 1972 Boston Bruins came out as the Bqstqn Bruins, and the 1981 New York Islanders as the Ilanders.

Detroit Red Wings Coach Tommy Ivan's last name came out as Nivan in 1952, and forward Alex Delvecchio's as Belvecchio.

The Montreal Canadiens' Bob Gainey was listed as Gainy in 1975, but his name was correct the other four times he won.

Pity poor Jacques Plante, though. He won five consecutive Cups with the Canadiens from 1956-60, and his name is spelled differently each time.

In 1984, owner Peter Pocklington of the Edmonton Oilers tried to pull a fast one, including the name of his father, Basil Pocklington, who was not affiliated with the Oilers, on the official list.

The NHL ordered the name removed, and an engraver covered it with 16 Xs.

Any mistakes involving the Ducks are likely to be fixed.

The last two errors — when the name of Colorado's Adam Deadmarsh was listed as Deadmarch in 1996 and the Detroit Red Wings' Manny Legace as Lagace in 2002 —
were both corrected.

But just imagine the life of an engraver: no backspace, no spell-check.

— Los Angeles Times

While this is all amusing enough, what REALLY cracks us up is the "correct" spelling of the Maple Leafs [sic]. It's Leaves. LEAVES. L-E-A-V-E-S. Perhaps the engraver couldn't bring himself to perpetuate that error.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Surely They Jest

SPOGGer Tasha R. of Rhode Island sends this from the New England Six Flags. While we absolutely love the maledicta graphic, we are appalled at the spelling on the sign (and not just the spelling of the swear word - if they meant to write what we think, it's @$$).

More to the point, though: Note the spelling of gesture. Surely, they jest...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Pre-Divorce Onesie

People magazine calls this garment a "witty onesie."

Without the apostrophe, though, it's rather witless. Unless, of course, it's meant to give a celebrity baby to pre-celebrate the inevitable divorce. We were a cute pair, weren't we? Marcia Cross, below, totally agrees with us. You can see it in her shiny, shiny eyes.

Grammar Rehab

"Richie Sambora has entered an undisclosed treatment facility in Los Angeles," the rep said in a statement. "He asks that you respect he and his family's privacy at this time."

Respect he privacy? Alas, it should be "respect his and his family's privacy at this time." Uch. Shouldn't paid spokespeople get the grammar right?

A Brief History of Some Very Dirty Words

We enjoyed this article on Slate, which discusses how certain words got their terrible reputation.

Meanwhile, we wrote to the editor of the AP Stylebook two months ago suggesting a "Maledicta Key," which could be used to replace the letters in swear words. Dick Cheney's oath to Patrick Leahy could have been rendered "#¥©< Ω##!" Doesn't that look pretty? Alas, we're still waiting for a reply. For your entertainment, though, the Maledicta Key. We believe it enables users to spell all the major and some of the minor obscenities with style and grace. Do let us know, though, if we've left out key letters of your favorite foul word. Vowel substitutions
A = @
E = #
I = !
O = Ω
U = ¥

Consonant substitutions
C = ©
F = #
H = *
K = <
L = £
P = ¶
R = ®
S = $
T = +
W = π

Grammar for Babies

Don't laugh: Babies apparently prefer grammar to grunting...

The roots of grammar:
New study shows children innately prepared to learn language

To learn a language, a child must learn a set of all-purpose rules, such as “a sentence can be formed by combining a subject, a verb and an object” that can be used in an infinite number of ways. A new study shows that by the age of seven months, human infants are on the lookout for abstract rules – and that they know the best place to look for such abstractions is in human speech.

In a series of experiments appearing in the May issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Gary Marcus and co-authors Keith Fernandes and Scott Johnson at New York University exposed infants to abstractly structured sequences that consisted of either speech syllables or nonspeech sounds.


And we know just what babies should wear when practicing their parts of speech:

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Smokin' Punctuation

While we do like to give credit to rockers who at least attempt to acknowledge the beauty of punctuation, we're a bit worried about Jarvis, um, Cocker. (Forgive us. We have a thing about funny last names.) Moving on...

Please see the following:

Former PULP frontman Jarvis Cocker is dreading the imminent smoking ban in England. Cocker says, "I believe that public smoking is a form of punctuation and without fag breaks, we won't have those necessary little pauses to reflect on life, which becomes one long sentence with no full stops of commas."
A comma is a pause. A period is a full stop. What are you smoking, man?

Jarvis Cocker, sans fag<

Loan = Free PC

Once upon a time, when we worked for a large software company, we giggled mercilessly at the house ads that read LOAN = FREE PC. The deal was, if you took out a loan, you'd get a free computer in exchange.

Now, we've noticed that the Waldorf-Astoria hotel doesn't use a hyphen; it uses an equal sign. Waldorf=Astoria. This makes even less sense than LOAN = FREE PC. (For one thing, we think Waldorf>Astoria, because of the Waldorf Salad's utter deliciousness.)

Anyway, the Waldorf=Astoria is about to receive a stern letter from SPOGG explaining the difference between the hyphen and the equals sign.


DC Comics Trafficking in Teen Girls?

Karen B. sends in this gem of an error from CNN:
Castellucci has just released her first graphic novel, "The Plain Janes," published by MINX, a new imprint aimed at teenage girls owned by DC Comics.

It's a fine example of the comma's power to do good -- or evil. Without the comma, this sentence makes it look as though the MINX imprint is created specifically for those poor teenage girls owned by DC Comics. (What do you suppose they're using the girls for? To model prototypes of spandex sidekick wear, because adult women simply have too much ass-fat?)

Other than inserting a comma between girls and owned, the author could have rewritten the sentence:
Castellucci has just released her first graphic novel, "The Plain Janes," published by MINX, a DC Comics imprint for teenage girls. (Why aimed at? It's twice as long, and it sounds mean.)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Don't...Stop...Thinking about TomMorrow?

Oh, Hillary. This makes us want to take away one of your Ls, once and for all:

On a lark, we searched the New York Times's archives. It's surprising how often this word has made it into the paper with an extra m. A quick Google search shows it's spelled correctly almost 99 percent of the time, so we will take hope in that.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated note, the actor Rob Morrow named his daughter Tu. We hope he's setting aside enough residuals for a name-change and psychotheraphy for her.

Paris Hilton off to Jail

It seems unkind to make fun of her grammar today. Instead, we'll point out the dangling modifier we saw in the post of a frequent New York Times commenter, Mark Klein, MD:

As a seasoned parent of adult children and from 40+ years in medicine and psychiatry, a brief jail experience could only do her good.

Jail is a lot of things, but we do not believe jail experience typically results in childbirth or advanced academic degrees. Perhaps this naive; there are conjugal visits and prison libraries, after all (but probably not both at the same time.)

At any rate, what Dr. Klein meant to write was, "As a seasoned parent of adult children with forty-plus years in medicine and psychiatry, I think brief jail experience could only do her good."

The "as a seasoned parent" phrase must modify the subject of the sentence. As it's written, it modifies "jail experience."

It's hard to make this sort of error when using the traditional subject+verb+object syntax. When in doubt (or when posting something you cannot later edit), best stick to the straightforward. And when editing, beware sentences that start with modifying phrases. They're the mousetraps you've stuck in your own cupboards; you don't want to smack your own fingers when you're reaching for the crackers.

Another note: "Do her good" is grammatically sound. There is a grammatical unicorn galloping about that insists "well" must be used to modify a verb. The most common way this unicorn presents its mythical old self is when people say, "I am well" is the only correct response to the question, "How are you doing." This is false, pompous, and silly.

English is a flexible language in many ways, and especially with its parts of speech. Good here is a noun. It's what's being done, not how.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

We Love REM a Little Less Today

While reading about apostrophes, we came across this Peter Buck quote explaining the title of the band's 1986 album, "Lifes [sic] Rich Pageant":
"We all hate apostrophes. Michael insisted and I agreed that there's never been
a good rock album that's had an apostrophe in the title."

It's an odd thing to encounter the day after the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a nicely apostrophed collection of songs that still brightens our day when we play them.

In any case, please excuse us while we go weep softly in the corner...

More Apostrophe Catastrophes

Visitors to Edinburgh will soon be able to visit a family center in Scotland. But one thing they won't see is an apostrophe (or a space) in the title: It's called ScottlandsPeople.

The errors are on purpose -- "for effect." Not everyone is amused.