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Archive for the ‘GrammarGarnish (wordplay)’ Category

  • Today is Friday the 13th. Twenty million Americans are feeling unlucky today — people who suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia. It’s a 99-year-old word made up of a combination of the Norse and Greek roots words for ‘fear’ and ‘Friday’ and ’13.’
  • Folklorists say that the phobia itself is a combination of two separate superstition-induced phobias — 13 is unlucky in much of folklore and so is Friday. Whenever the first day of a month is a Sunday, there’s going to be a Friday the 13th that month.
  • The number 13 has been unlucky for a long time. Numerologists point out that 12 is a complete number in Judeo-Christian culture: There are 12 months in a year, 12 hours on a standard clock, 12 Apostles, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 days of Christmas, 12 eggs in a dozen, of course, the 12 Steps of GRAMMARHOLICS (not so) ANONYMOUS, and so on.
  • There’s something unsettling, even repugnant, about going just a bit ‘beyond completeness’ — that’s how academic folklorists rationalize the superstition, at least. The vast majority of skyscrapers have no 13th floor, the room number 13 is missing from many modern hotels, and many airliners do not have a row 13 in their passenger seating.
  • As for Friday, it’s unlucky in a handful of ancient cultures. In Christianity, it’s the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.
  • There have been 12 films in the Friday the 13th series. The 13th is due out on Friday the 13th of July in 2012.
  • There are always the traditional folk remedies to ward off bad luck today: burning any socks with holes in them, or eating some gristle while standing on your head, or climbing to a mountaintop. And here’s the good news: There’s only one Friday the 13th this year. Some years can have up to three of them.

Enjoy!

References: Dad, CBS News, The Skeptic’s Dictionary, IMDb

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Today on Today, NBC TV host Matt Lauer asked Congresswoman and GOP candidate Michele Bachmann the following:

“Amy Kremer, who’s a leader of the Tea Party movement, said … that you will be – and this is her word, not mine – quote, ‘Palinized’ in this campaign. Do you understand the verb, and what would your definition of it be?”  

Click on the photo to see the video segment:

All politics aside, thank you Mr. Lauer for furthering our cause … especially in the “Verbalized …” category. This might just start a new sub-category: “Verbalized … Properly” (verbalized with a proper noun). Stay tuned.

See our series on Nouns gone bad:

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A faithful reader shared this with us. We couldn’t resist sharing it with you … enjoy!

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Oh my … really? What is our language coming to?

See our series on Nouns gone bad:

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One of our favorite things to do is shop for office supplies. Imagine our delight at finding this entry in the OfficeMax catalog:

OfficeMax Invisible Tape Dispensers

Are these as as out-of-sight as the OfficeMax Invisible Boxed Tape  that goes in the invisible dispenser?  We just couldn’t see our way clear to order one. Maybe these stealth supplies would make for a very clean desk?

In case you don’t get it, consider these alternatives:

OfficeMax Dispensers for Invisible Tape, and OfficeMax Boxed Invisible Tape. This way, the reader will know that it’s the tape that is invisible, not the dispenser or the box.

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… not always perfect grammar. As we found in these hilarious examples of signs around the world. Enjoy!

In a washroom:
TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW

In a Launderette:
AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT

In a London department store:
BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS

In an office:
WOULD THE PERSON WHO TOOK THE STEP LADDER YESTERDAY PLEASE BRING IT BACK OR FURTHER STEPS WILL BE TAKEN

In an office:
AFTER TEA BREAK STAFF SHOULD EMPTY THE TEAPOT AND STAND UPSIDE DOWN ON THE DRAINING BOARD

Outside a secondhand shop:
WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING – BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?

Notice in health food shop window:
CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS

Spotted in a safari park:
ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR

Sign on a wall at a conference:
FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN’T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE 1ST FLOOR

Notice in a farmer’s field:
THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.

Message on a leaflet:
IF YOU CANNOT READ THEN THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL YOU HOW TO GET READING LESSONS

On a repair shop door:
WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR – THE BELL DOESN’T WORK)

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In honor of the 2010 World Series (and the fact that we love the outcome) … we present the “Giants of Idioms:”

 

 

English language idioms derived from baseball

 

B
ballpark: in the ballpark, ballpark figure, and out of the ballpark
batting 1000 or batting a thousand
big league(s)
brush back
bush-league
C
cat bird seat, cat-bird seat or catbird seat
Charley horse
cleanup hitter
cover one’s bases; cover all the bases
curve, curveball
D
double header
down to the last out
ducks on a pond
E
extra innings
F
foot in the bucket
G
grand slam
ground ball
H
hardball, play hardball
heavy hitter
hit it out of the park or knock it out of the park
hit or miss
home run
I
inside baseball
“It ain’t over till it’s all over.”
“It’s like déjà vu all over again!”
K
knock the cover off the ball
L
late innings
leadoff hitter
left field
M
major league
Mendoza line
N
ninth inning
O
o-fer
off base
on deck
one base at a time
out of left field
P
pinch hit
pitch a shutout
play ball
play softball
R
rain check
rhubarb
right off the bat
S
“Say it ain’t so, Joe!”
screwball
shutout
softball
step up to the plate
strike
swing and miss
swing for the fences
switch-hitter
T
take cuts at someone
three strikes law
took the collar
touch base
W
wheelhouse
whiff
whole new ball game; brand new ball game; (a) whole ‘nother ball game

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Last year, we entered a brief blog post on this subject as our Grammar goof of the day. It went like this:

 Seen in a National workforce report: “… top performers are the ones that will become invaluable … through the economic downturn.” Should be: who 

Apparently, our preference and our usage reflects a strict adherence to an interpretation of the reference to animate vs. inanimate nouns* (see usage note below), and even more strictly, distinguishing human animateness from other life-like forms. 

Yikes, that’s confusing! What do we mean? Simply, we like who for any reference to people and that for any reference to things (or animals).  

We did some research …

WHO –pronoun; possessive whose; objective whom.

1. what person or persons?: Who did it?
2. (of a person) of what character, origin, position, importance, etc.: Who does she think she is?
3. the person that or any person that (used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent): It was who you thought.
4. (used relatively in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses to represent a specified antecedent, the antecedent being a person or sometimes an animal or personified thing)** (see comment below): Any kid who wants to can learn to swim.
 
THAT –pronoun and adjective, plural those; adverb; conjunction –pronoun
 
1. (used to indicate a person, thing, idea, state, event, time, remark, etc., as pointed out or present, mentioned before, supposed to be understood, or by way of emphasis): That is her mother. After that we saw each other.
2. (used to indicate one of two or more persons, things, etc., already mentioned, referring to the one more remote in place, time, or thought; opposed to this): This is my sister and that’s my cousin.
3. (used to indicate one of two or more persons, things, etc., already mentioned, implying a contrast or contradistinction; opposed to this): This suit fits better than that.
4. (used as the subject or object of a relative clause, esp. one defining or restricting the antecedent, sometimes replaceable by who, whom,  or which): the horse that he bought.
5. (used as the object of a preposition, with the preposition standing at the end of a relative clause): the farm that I spoke of.
6. (used in various special or elliptical constructions): fool that he is.
  
*Usage note: That is used to refer to animate and inanimate nouns and thus can substitute in most uses for who(m) … Many of the workers that (or who) built the pyramids died while working.
  
**Comment: Experienced writers choose among these forms not only on the basis of grammar and the kind of noun referred to but also on the basis of sound of the sentence and their own personal preference.

So, we were humbled by our research and although we are pleased to have Grammar Girl on our side, we will let up on those (people) who that choose to use that in certain references to humans.

 

What is your preference?

References: dictionary.com, Grammar Girl, Chicago Manual of Style, Prentice Hall Reference Guide, The Gregg Reference Manual

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  • Today is Friday the 13th. Twenty million Americans are feeling unlucky today — people who suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia. It’s a 99-year-old word made up of a combination of the Norse and Greek roots words for ‘fear’ and ‘Friday’ and ’13.’
  • Folklorists say that the phobia itself is a combination of two separate superstition-induced phobias — 13 is unlucky in much of folklore and so is Friday. Whenever the first day of a month is a Sunday, there’s going to be a Friday the 13th that month.
  • The number 13 has been unlucky for a long time. Numerologists point out that 12 is a complete number in Judeo-Christian culture: There are 12 months in a year, 12 hours on a standard clock, 12 Apostles, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 days of Christmas, 12 eggs in a dozen, of course, the 12 Steps of GRAMMARHOLICS (not so) ANONYMOUS, and so on.
  • There’s something unsettling, even repugnant, about going just a bit ‘beyond completeness’ — that’s how academic folklorists rationalize the superstition, at least. The vast majority of skyscrapers have no 13th floor, the room number 13 is missing from many modern hotels, and many airliners do not have a row 13 in their passenger seating.
  • As for Friday, it’s unlucky in a handful of ancient cultures. In Christianity, it’s the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.
  • There have been 12 films in the Friday the 13th series. The 13th is due out on Friday the 13th of July in 2012.
  • There are always the traditional folk remedies to ward off bad luck today: burning any socks with holes in them, or eating some gristle while standing on your head, or climbing to a mountaintop. And here’s the good news: There’s only one Friday the 13th this year and one next year. Some years can have up to three of them.

Enjoy!

References: Dad, CBS News, The Skeptic’s Dictionary, IMDb

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Have you been to a meeting lately?

THE TWELVE STEPS OF GRAMMARHOLICS (not so) ANONYMOUS

1. We admitted we were powerless over proper grammar—that our grammar had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a grammar greater than that which we use ourselves could restore us to proper usage.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the use of proper grammar as we learned it.

4. Made a searching and fearless oral, verbal, and written inventory of our grammar.

5. Admitted to the Grammar Police, to ourselves, and to a grammar school teacher the exact nature of our misusage.

6. Were entirely ready to have proper grammar remove all these defects of usage.

7. Humbly asked for proper grammar to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all grammar rules we had broken, and became willing to make corrections to them all.

9. Made direct corrections to such grammar rules wherever possible, except when to do so would perpetuate a miscommunication of them or others.

10. Continued to take an personal inventory of our grammar and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through sentence structure and punctuation to improve our conscious contact with proper grammar, as we learned it, seeking only for knowledge of grammar’s will for us and the proper usage to carry that out.

12. Having had a grammatical awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to grammarholics, and to practice these principles in all our communications.

One day at a time …

Copyright © 2010 Grammar Police a.k.a. GrammarCops

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