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Archive for August, 2010

This has been bugging us since the advertising campaign began a while ago. TBS, the cable channel, is perpetuating awful grammar with their slogan:

“more movie … less commercials.”

We caught this grammar gaffe during tonight’s showing of the wonderful movie The School of Rock.

We love the movie, however, it was an insult to our senses having this slogan displayed on the screen throughout. We went for the DVD.

Therefore, we are going to shamelessly steal from our earlier post: Less is not always more … and may continue to do so until correctness catches on.

OK, everybody repeat after us …

I will use “less” for amounts that cannot be counted as discrete items, such as water, sunshine, and money.

I will use “fewer” for numbers of items that can be counted as discrete items, such as drops of water, rays of sunshine, dollar bills, and … of course, commercials!

Get it? Got it. Good!

See our other previous post on this topic: Limit less …

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Several years ago, an article in an airline magazine, “Nouns Gone Bad,” really hit home with us.

It discussed the phenomenon of using nouns as verbs, and the growing prevalence of this practice.

A recent tweet (on Twitter) reminded us of this ever-growing trend …

“There is a poor grammar jesus bumper sticker collection on a van. I want to at least ‘Sharpie‘ it so it makes sense.”

You may know that a Sharpie® is a marker made by Sanford. Many professional athletes (and other celebs) use these markers for signing autographs. The pens have many other uses, and we confess to having what must be one of the largest collections of Sharpie® pens around (all colors, widths, point-types, and styles – literally, in buckets in the office). But we digress …

There is an interesting paper called “THE ENVIRONMENTAL STYLE” that was written in 2005 by R.P. Detwiler, NASA Office of General Counsel, in which this trend is addressed. Detwiler uses the examples: partner, team, dialogue, and task.

Have you heard (or used) these nouns as verbs? Maybe, in instances like (yes, we mean “like,” not “such as,” here):

  • Let’s partner on this venture.
  • How about we team up to find the solution?
  • We can dialogue about that topic.
  • My boss likes to task us with many jobs.

There are many other examples. There are even uses that are not primarily business-related:

  • Do you know anyone who likes to go antiquing?
  • The cops Tasered a stuffed animal the other day. (see the story)
  • That recent study really impacted our lives.
  • Did he transition from runner to cyclist?
  • Will picnicked during the soccer game.

These days, use of the Internet provides us with the opportunity to perpetuate this bent:

  • Ooh, let’s Google that …

So, now we add “Sharpie” to our list of nouns gone bad.

What are your offenders?

Be sure to see our related posts:

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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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