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Archive for the ‘grammar’ Category

Ball Security Issues

Posted by languageandgrammar on September 15, 2013

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

Twice today, on two different football games, I heard an announcer say about a player who fumbles often: “He has ball-security issues.” Twice!

If you need further proof that we’ve become afraid to simply state what we mean in a simple, direct fashion, then I don’t know what to say.

I’m trying to imagine football announcers of the 1970s saying that a player who fumbles often has ball-security issues.; having a hard time imagining it. Ball security issues!

Posted in grammar, language, sports | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Random Capitalization

Posted by languageandgrammar on May 30, 2013

random capitalization

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I’m not someone who sends a lot of text messages, but I’ve sent enough to understand the need to use short-cuts and the desire to never use capital letters. In other words, I’ve been known to use “thru” instead of “through” and to not bother capitalizing proper nouns and first words of sentences.

With my ability to type on a phone, my goal is for the message to be almost in English–nothing more.

Random Capitalization

With texting trends spreading into other forms of communication, what I don’t understand is why so many people employ random capitalization. Out of nowhere, a word that clearly does not need to be capitalized is.

Examples (in addition to the image above):

  • I’m having a great time at the Beach.
  • I was on the Bus when the Driver fainted.
  • Boy, I can’t believe that Tomorrow is only Wednesday.

Reasons

Maybe people do it simply for emphasis, for the same reason that people used to think saying something like “Best. Day. Ever.” was a good idea. (It’s working just as well, which is to say that it isn’t.)

Maybe people no longer know the difference between a proper noun and a common noun.

Whatever the Reason, the Trend can Stop any time now.

(Image from Flicker)

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Communicating with Tact, Confusing Word Pairs, and More

Posted by languageandgrammar on March 21, 2013

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

Just a quick reminder: This is not the only place where I post my language ramblings. Feel free to check out AIS Writing Tips, which is associated with my job at Penn State.

I recently wrote about the need to be tactful in communication and confusing word pairs.

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How to Write Good

Posted by languageandgrammar on March 20, 2013

 

A friend sent this along recently, and it’s worth a look (and maybe a laugh).

humorous list of language errors

Posted in grammar, humor, language, writing | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Proof that Dictionaries Are Not Source for Proper Grammar: “Thx” Now in Dictionary

Posted by languageandgrammar on March 14, 2013

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

We at languageandgrammar.com have taken some criticism for saying things like “Dictionaries are a source of common usage, not necessarily correct grammar” (see What Does the Word Dictionary Mean?), but now that the Oxford Dictionary has added thx as an entry, we’ve been proven correct.

It’s in the dictionary, so it has to be right: That’s what we often hear when a non-word (such as drug as the past tense of drag) is used. Now, thx to the Oxford dictionary, either words don’t have to include vowels, or it is true that dictionaries are a reflection of usage, not necessarily proper grammar.

We’re not saying that dictionaries serve no purpose, but it is important to remember that they are not the final word on what is gramatically correct.

Posted in grammar, language, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Subjunctive as a Way of Life!

Posted by languageandgrammar on December 30, 2012

st patrick's day banner

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

We’ve written about the subjunctive a couple of times (Subjunctive Uses Were, Not Was and I Wish I Was Wrong, But I’m Not), so this is a more philosophical post on the topic.

The subjunctive is used when we wish things were different from the way they actually are, and based on what I see in life, that seems to be how we live our lives–wishing things were different.

It’s December 30, meaning that New Year’s Day has not arrived yet, but the stores are brimming with candy and decorations for Valentine’s Day. A local grocery store even has candy out for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter!

I know that retailers need to plan ahead and get merchandise ready to sell, but we, as a society, seem obsessed with whatever is next, as if whatever is now is not good enough.

The reason Christmas is only a six-week obsession is that Thanksgiving slows down the train a little, but it’s depressing to me to start thinking about spring already. Winter just started. Sure, maybe people don’t like the weather as much as I do, but still, we don’t have to subjunctive our lives away!

(Image from http://heiditunnellcatering.com/st-patricks-day/)

Posted in grammar, off topic | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Managing Expectations

Posted by languageandgrammar on December 4, 2012

Managing expectations is one of the business terms that is effectively a trendy way of saying something in an indirect manner.

I thought of the term today when the general manager the team with the longest consecutive streak of losing seasons in professional sports history, the Pittsburgh Pirates, talked about how the trade value for the best relief pitcher isn’t as great now as it would have been during the season. They didn’t use the term managing expectations, but the mighty Buccos seem to have been saying: Sure, we’re going to try to trade Joel Hanrahan (the pitcher in question), but don’t expect much.

In other words, they were managing expectations.

The term is used regularly in the business world, when results might not match expected results. (We need to manage customer expectations.) It might also be used by managers when dealing with workers. (We need to manage employee expectations about raises this year.)

This Dilbert cartoon exemplifies the term as well as anything:

managing expectations image--Dilbert cartoon

Posted in grammar, humor, language | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

This Vote Should Be Unanimous: It’s Electoral, not Electorial!

Posted by languageandgrammar on September 21, 2012

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

Estimated electoral college votes as of September 21, 2012; image from electoral-vote.com

We’re in the heart of election season, which means many things, one of the most annoying of which is how many people are going to say electorial instead of electoral.

You’ll hear it from your friends. You’ll hear it by television pundits (not pundints, by the way!). You’ll probably even hear it from one of the candidates.

There is no “i” in electoral or electoral college.

Now, of course, if you’re one of those people who believes that a mistake repeated often enough is no mistake–it’s new acceptable usage–then you might think electorial is a word. (Think dictionary.com, where electorial has a definition of electoral.)

P.S. Blue is my favorite color!

(Image from electoralvote.com)

Posted in grammar, language, politics, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Simple, Direct Language Is Always the Best Choice!

Posted by languageandgrammar on August 3, 2012

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I know it’s been a while, but we’re still here!

And what better way to come back from a break than by focusing on the most important way to improve communication: Keep it simple and direct.

Seriously, communication that is riddled with extra words, unnecessarily complicated language, and indirect thoughts (which seems to be every work email being sent today!) is muddled, boring, and difficult to comprehend.

On the other hand, every communication that is stripped of unnecessary words, simplified, and direct is a pleasure to read and easy to understand.

For more information, please see a writing tip that I wrote for my day job: Plain Language Is Not Boring Language.

Posted in grammar, language, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

I’ll be on Wisconsin Public Radio on Wednesday morning

Posted by languageandgrammar on May 1, 2012

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I’m happy to report that I’ll be on Wisconsin Public Radio from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. (Eastern time) on Wednesday, joining host Joy Cardin and listeners to discuss language pet peeves. Joy’s show is on the Ideas Network, a 19-station network serving Wisconsin and spilling into neighboring states, such as Minnesota and Illinois.

There is a live streaming option from the link above, and I’ll post the archive link when available.

Speaking of archives, this is the second time that I’ve joined Joy, with the first time being a few years ago after the book first came out. If you’re interested, you can listen to that interview on this archived stream.

It’s a good discussion, as might be expected from an NPR audience.

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