Saturday, March 21, 2009

We're getting a lot of complaints

One of the first things a college journalism professor told us has stuck with me forever. "There is no such word as alot"

It's two words, she told us. Not that I didn't know that already, but it was a surprise to many. And still a surprise, it appears, to the number of people who still get it wrong.

Just remember: though people have been getting it wrong for decades, it will never be one word. While some words (think to-morrow, video-tape) eventually become one word, alot won't be one of them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We're mad as hell about made-up, shortened words and we're not going to take it anymore

How angry do made-up or shortened words from ad copywriters like nitelife, donuts or lite beer? As made as the guy (or woman, it's possible) who corrected this "drive-thru" sign?

Most of us just accept such bastardization from commercial ventures, but it's good to see someone still wants to make sure everybody knows right from wrong.

Just don't get me started on the words lyricists resort to, like "pompatus" -- thanks, Steve Miller. (At the same time, thanks Simpons, for hilarity such as embiggened and cromulent)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Apostrophe faces extinction

For the longest time (and this would normally lead into a rant about the education system and its switch away from teaching phonics and proper grammar), proper use of the apostrophe has been in decline. Added improperly (the Obama's walked to the park) or missing altogether (my mothers purse), it breaks one's heart to see so many people do not understand this common form of puncuation.

Every time I see a Tim Hortons outlet I wince, thinking the hockey player and partner who founded the doughnut chain might have had a successful business model, but not a good English teacher. (As it is spelled, the name is plural, which would only be used if you were writing about two or more people named Tim Horton).

George Jonas wrote in the National Post recently, in a column headlined "Death of the apostrophe," that "Voila, gentle reader. You're looking at the future. People not knowing where to put things will be the death of many a jolly squiggle."

Check out the story.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

For the final time: Woman is not an adjective!

The online version has been corrected, but out on the streets today, there it was in large bold type on the front page of the Toronto Star: Ontario NDP elects first woman leader.

Why would the NDP elect someone to lead women?

Written as such, the headline in question means they elected a leader of women. hile the headline is grammatically incorrect, most people would understand the writer means first female leader. But that doesn't forgive those who insist on using the word woman as an adjective.

For some reason, people who would never dream of using man as an adjective, forget that woman is a noun and write things like "woman doctor" or "woman lawyer."

A woman doctor, for the record, is a gynecologist.