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.
Posts Tagged ‘language’
Posted by languageandgrammar on March 21, 2013
Posted by languageandgrammar on March 20, 2013
A friend sent this along recently, and it’s worth a look (and maybe a laugh).
Posted by languageandgrammar on March 14, 2013
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 by languageandgrammar on January 14, 2013
This sounds more like the wars the erupt between descriptivists and prescriptivists to me: 4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence.
Posted by languageandgrammar on September 21, 2012
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 by languageandgrammar on May 1, 2012
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.
Posted by languageandgrammar on April 17, 2012
Although it’s often difficult to be (because of the unnecessary violence often intended to injure opponents), I’m a fan of hockey.
The hockey act that resulted in the ridiculous language example I’m about to cite is an unfortunate example of what could be a great sport; however, let us, for the moment, only look at the language use in question: Marian Hossa Was Stretchered Off The Ice After This Brutal Hit From Raffi Torres.
Stretcher is a verb? The word now means “the act of moving someone (presumably into an ambulance) while on a stretcher.”
Call dictionary.com; even they don’t have that verbification (what I called the process of turning nouns into verbs in my book) yet. Call the descriptivists who think that, as long as the meaning is understood, it’s legitimate usage. We have a new verb!
Let’s do a little conjugation of the verb stretcher, at least of the present tense:
- I stretcher
- You stretcher
- He/she/it stretchers
- We stretcher
- They stretcher
You get the idea.
If you want a new word, then simply turn a noun into a verb and you have one. You verbed it.
We certainly wish Marian Hossa the best and hope that hockey takes serious steps to remove the unnecessary violence from the game.
Posted by languageandgrammar on March 23, 2012
That’s right, ladies and gentleman, Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera thinks that what Trayvon Martin was wearing is as much of a factor in his death as the person who pulled the trigger (Zimmerman), proving that while language changes, racism remains the same.
I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.
In other words, it’s understandable to Rivera that Zimmerman would think that the Skittles-carrying youngster was a danger because anyone wearing a hoodie is a danger. Today’s hoodie is most commonly associated with the urban/African-American culture–one that apparently frightens people like Geraldo. In fact, Rivera was quick to point out that he didn’t think that a Caucasian person wearing a hoodie would be perceived in the same light–he didn’t necessarily advise that the group stop wearing hoodies.
Until we start to hold people responsible for their actions rather than putting blame on stereotypes and racism, nothing but the words used to express racism will change.
Maybe dangerous people tend to eat more Skittles. Maybe we shouldn’t buy that kind of candy in the future if we don’t want to be shot, or at least we should have the understanding that we’re asking for it if we do.
For more, see this DailyKos article.
Posted by languageandgrammar on February 18, 2012
We all make mistakes, but apologizing is always difficult. That difficulty (and because many people apologize when they’re not truly sorry for their actions) is why there are so many conditional apologies issued.
To review, when you put a condition on the apology, you’re attempting to shift the responsibility from you (the person who did the offensive thing) to the person who was hurt by your actions because it’s now up to them to decide whether they were hurt. Don’t apologize that way.
Apologize the way actress Lisa Chan did after appearing in a political ad that was extremely disrespectful to her own culture:
I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities. As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions.
She might not be proud of the ad she participated in (for Republican Pete Hoekstra), but she can be very proud of how she took responsibility for her action.
Posted by languageandgrammar on January 3, 2012
It’s estimated that more than half of the world speaks two languages, but in the U.S., it’s roughly 10%. I don’t have any room to talk since I don’t speak another language, but I still found this post interesting: 20 Embarrassing Facts about Foreign Language Learning in the U.S.
I know. I know. The link is from a biased source–someone who provides online education, but it’s still something to think about.
I did pretty well in my Spanish class in high school a few decades ago…maybe I should consider not being a typical self-centered American!