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  • Today is Friday the 13th. Twenty million Americans are feeling unlucky today–people who suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia. It’s a 100+-year-old word made up of a combination of the Norse and Greek root 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 came 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; eating some gristle while standing on your head; or climbing to a mountaintop. Just know that some years can have up to three of them.

Enjoy!

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

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We just want to note this interesting (and timely) grammar tip from WebExhibits:

Daylight Saving Time

Spelling and grammar

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time. Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight. It is a saving daylight kind of time. Because of this, it would be more accurate to refer to DST as daylight-saving time. Similar examples would be a mind-expanding book or a man-eating tiger. Saving is used in the same way as saving a ball game, rather than as a savings account.

Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an ‘s’) is mellifluous off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.

Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved. Daylight Shifting Time would be better, and Daylight Time Shifting more accurate, but neither is politically desirable.

Source: WebExhibits: Daylight Saving Time

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Is it just us or has there been an increase in grammatical misuse in tag lines, advertisements, and TV commercials lately? As many of you know, we have been feuding with Hanes for a few years over their “lay-flat” collar ads – to no avail.

Looks like we have a couple of new opponents to take on:

StriVectin

MORE SCIENCE. LESS WRINKLES.” & “More science. Less eye lines.”

FORD

“MORE GO. LESS STOPS.”

In addition, a faithful follower writes,

“Ugh!  Have you seen the Mercedes commercial?! “More technology, less doors.” I’m hoping it’s really clever and I just don’t understand it. Surely the grammar couldn’t be that bad, could it?”

We encourage you to look back to our posts on the subject “Less” vs. “Fewer”.

Would these grammar goofs affect your buying decisions?

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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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We present, in tribute to our friends over at Apostrophe Abuse, Apostrophe Catastrophes, Apostrophism, and of course Apostrophe Police, the following  …

  • From the Viewing Guide on our Time Warner Cable screen … umbrella’s … really?

  • Guess we should say that … Stand In’s … are from the … credit’s … in the TV show … The Kennedy’s … ???

So, what is it with this tendency to apostrophize plurals? We don’t get it. Do you?

  • Finally, in today’s tribute, we’re still lookin’ for the missin’ apostrophe in this … Surfin … sign.

This is just another example of apostrophailure.

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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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Listen here … The Grammar Police on You Are What You Speak

This week, we had the honor of participating in a radio feature on the national morning radio show, The Takeaway (produced by Public Radio International, WNYC, the BBC, WGBH Boston, and The New York Times). What fun!

The request was for an interview, “… to discuss your issues with language usage and misusage. Should we be trying to stop the world’s grammatical errors? Or should we accept the various misuses as part of our evolving language?”

In addition, Robert Lane Greene, author of “You Are What You Speak,” was the second guest. In his opinion, language policing is often just about supporting class, ethnic and national prejudices. 

Check it out … and, thanks for listening!

Listen here … The Grammar Police on You Are What You Speak

P.S. This book is now required reading for our GrammarGuard and recommended reading for our GrammarGuild and other followers.

P.P.S. Click here to read about what started the feud with Hanes …

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