NotPhrase Off Of Needs Eliminating

With [tag]baseball season[/tag] upon us, one of my favorite (not!) NotPhrases is back in constant use, to wit:

“There goes a line drive off of the bat of Joe Baseballer.”  Or, “He just got a hit off of pitcher Sam Flamethrower.”

I’m here to reaffirm that off of is not just redundant but incorrect.  How about, “There goes a line drive off the bat of…” and “He just got a hit off pitcher…”?

Of course, these are jocks and sports announcers using this construction, but a lot of people hear “off of” and think nothing of it and even use it themselves as a consequence.

Just stick to off, as in, “Get off my back with your lousy English.”

To Bork, v.t.; To Sosa, v.i.

During the Supreme Court confirmation hearings over Reagan nominee [tag]Robert Bork[/tag], Democratic venom and personal assassination got so ugly that the word bork became a transitive verb.  “Let’s bork Alberto Gonzalez,” one might hear some in Congress saying today.  The meaning is to destroy the reputation of said person, whether it’s based in fact or not.

Now, in light of all the baseball steroid scandals here in the U.S., I’m proposing a new verb, though this one is intransitive but also named after an individual, that person being ex-Chicago Cub [tag]Sammy Sosa[/tag].  To sosa means to cheat, whether by steroid use, corked bats or any other means possible, primarily in baseball but in any sport–and in life in general by extension.

Come to think of it, sosa could also be a transitive verb.  “I sosaed the IRS,” one might say, or even, “I sosaed the odds.”  Folks, let’s sosa our way to fame and fortune like our epinonymous hero.

Say it ain’t sosa.”

Letter Writing a Lost Art

When was the last time you wrote a personal letter to someone?  Now, I realize we all use and abuse e-mail, but how about a genuine, heartfelt handwritten letter in which you poured out your innermost thoughts and emotions?

Sadly, I bet there’s a great segment of our population, especially among the young, who have never written a letter, except maybe a “Dear John” here and there.  (I once got one of those in the form of a poem.  I should’ve kept it.)

I bring this up because letter writing is one of the greatest proven techniques for mastering a language, certainly the English language.  I still remember the advice I got when I first started out in the writing trade:  “Pretend like you’re writing a letter to a friend.”  In other words, relax and be yourself and be honest.  The words flow better that way.

Now, don’t get me started on e-mail.  What an abomination most e-mails are.  Many are more like cave drawings or inscriptions than actual writing, closer to tagging than thinking.

But try writing a sincere letter to a friend, and you’ll see what I mean.

Those Problematical Gerunds

What’s wrong with this sentence?

The boss didn’t like me talking back to him.

First, let me define what a gerund is.  In this sentence talking is a gerund, a noun formed from a verb by adding an ing.  Now when you want to modify a gerund, you must use the possessive case.  In the sentence above the speaker/writer used the accusative case me instead of the possessive case my (as in my bad–LOL).

This mistake is very, very common, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Oxford English Dictionary hasn’t already signed off on it as okay.  However, as that sentence is composed, what it actually says is this:

The boss didn’t like me [who, by the way, happened to be talking back to him/her].

If the boss were objecting only to the smoking, which he evidently was, you must use my here.