Month: January 2008

Using (and Misusing) the Colon

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A lot of people get confused about where and how to use the colon. 

For instance, some people will place a colon after a verb to introduce things that follow, as in: "The four reasons are: greed, anger, stupidty and laziness." 

However, here’s a tidy little rule to remember:  Never use a colon after a verb, but do use it after a noun.

Let me rewrite the above example to show you what I mean:  "The four reasons are the following: greed, anger, stupidity and laziness."

Here, even though the colon is used correctly, you now have a wordiness and awkwardiness problem.

Solution:  Just take the colon out of the first sentence. 

(Also, I just contradicted myself by saying never use a colon after a verb when that’s exactly what you have to use to introduce a quotation of more than one sentence.  Example: He said:  "Blah. Blah."  Oops!  Anyway, don’t use it after are or include and other verbs that are introducing a series of nouns or thoughts within a sentence.)

Categories: Grammar Sucks

Group Anoints ‘Subprime’ Word of the Year

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I never knew there was an American Dialect Society (do they use there for their?), nor did I know anyone went around dubbing words of the year.

However, the American Dialect Society just proclaimed subprime its Word of the Year.

(Subprime, of course, refers to real estate loans made to people who really can’t afford them.  Witness the recent mess in the mortgage lending world and the subsequent rollicking effect on the stock market.)

The Society says the chosen words "do not have to be brand-new [my note: hyphen incorrect and not needed], but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year."

(What about surge?)

Previous winners:  To be plutoed (2006), Truthiness (2005), Red/blue/purple states (2004), Metrosexual (2003), 9-11 or 9/11 (2001) and Chad (2000).

Categories: Grammar Sucks

What’s Wrong With This Phrase?

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In describing one of the contestants (I think it was Wolfgang Puck) on Iron Chef America, Alton Brown said the chef was always "reinventing new ingredients."

Anything wrong with that expression?

A couple of things are off here. 

For one, you can’t reinvent something that’s new; you can only invent something that’s new.  For another, you can’t invent food ingredients unless you cross-pollinate or cross-breed or somehing like that, which is not what Brown meant.  You can certainly discover new ingredients, maybe, if no one else has discovered them yet.

What Brown meant, however, was that Puck was always "creating new dishes" or "inventing new recipes." 

See how easily it is to misuse English.

Now, that being said, I’m probably the only person in the universe who perked up his ears (no mean feat) when he heard "reinventing new ingredients."  I’m sure it just went sailing merrily by the bulk of the viewers.

Categories: Grammar Sucks

UR What U Rite, or ur what u rite

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Happy New Year’s and welcome to 2008, everyone.

I see that the use of English continues to degenerate into some electronic media-driven abortion of its beautiful person.

Probably, most if not all of you heard of the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day that left one 17-year-old dead.

We certainly all grieve for this unfortunately incident and loss of a human being just going into the prime of life.

However, even in death the transformation of English from a beautiful means of expression–lyrical, powerful, persuasive–to ae e-mail, textmail aberration continues almost unchallenged.

A Web site immediately was launched in honor of the fallen youth, but it was riddled with all the faults of a generation not taught English and consumed (transfixed is better) by electronic media.

The site had not one capital letter, not at the start of sentences or anywhere, and about every second or third sentence started out, "ur…."

I’m sure the folks over at the Oxford Enlgish Dictionary are already recognizing ur as the modern version of you are.  I wonder if they’ll demand that the u be capitalized at the start of a sentence.

Probably not.

Happy Nu Yere!

Categories: Grammar Sucks