Archive for January, 2013

English: It Ain’t That Hard

Posted on January 29, 2013. Filed under: grammar, Journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Your words for the day:

  • ain’t = is not; am not; are not; have not; has not (it’s a lot like that Hawaiian word aloha, but a lot more informal — non-snooty if you like)
  • aloha = hello, goodbye, nice to see you, bon voyage, have a good time, long time no see…   you get it
  • wordsmith = somebody who uses words skillfully, such as a professional writer or journalist
  • poetaster = a writer of bad poetry (Not relevent to this article, but it showed up as a synonym of “wordsmith.”  It sounds to me like an antonym, but, either way, I could have used this one in my previous article)

A December 30, 2012, printing (Parade Magazine, a Sunday newspaper insert) had an item that caught my eye…   eyes…   both of my eyes.  The subject was “subject/verb” disagreement…  not the subject of the article…   the subject of what my eyes caught.

The feat of grammatical peaceful coexistence, according to on-line articles posted by some of the Great Learned, hinges upon identifying the subject of the verb.  In keeping with that principle, I will (ala the Great Learned) condescendingly point out selected subject/verb pairs throughout this article, which I have kindly kept short.  (condescending hint:  they will be paired in brackets.  They would be underlined, but this program does not permit underlining.)

Sir Scott (as I am sure [all] of his buds [call] him) was answering the socially burning question (from a faithful reader) of whether [more] than one couple from the Bachelor/Bachelorette* series [have done] the matrimony bit.  The answer, Faithful Reader, is a resounding “YES!”  Sir Scott’s count is that [all] of three (3) [have joined] in wedded bliss.  Here, count ’em:

  1. Ashley and J.P.
  2. Jason and Molly
  3. Trista and Ryan

Hmmmph!  Only needed one hand for that.

In haste, I must point out that Sir [Scott]  [has imparted] much more knowledge about those reality* shows than [I] would ever [have sought] on my own.

Speaking of haste, let me move on to the obligatory finger-pointing.  Responding to the faithful reader’s inquiry.  Sir Scott’s [verbage] [reveals] that [Trista and Ryan] [did indeed tie] the knot, and now…   “the couple live in Colorado.”  (Give him a raspberry.)

Since couple is singular, that should read “the couple lives in Colorado.”

Don’t fret, Scott, you old professional wordsmith, you.  I’m sure you have a fully staffed back-up team of professional proof-readers more than happy to say, “WE goofed!”  One must keep that professional image spotless.


*You know…   those real life courtship dramas in which a stable-full of hopefuls —  under the watchful eyes of dozens of cameras and directors and narrators and make-up specialists — spontaneously generate tears and emotions while navigating a marathon of competitive winner-take-all contests…   interludes…   while navigating a series of “romantic interludes.”

Next up:  2 for 1:  Gerund phrase, if-were tandem, 50-word sentence…   ??…   maybe 3 for 1. 

 And, a split infinitive.  A 4-fer?

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The Big “P” Does English

Posted on January 21, 2013. Filed under: Journalism, Nezza at Hella | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Your words for the day:

  • risqué = sexually suggestive; indecent.
  • condescending = superior, disdainful, supercilious, pompous

The day after the day after the day of is Thursday, December 27, 2012…  that is one of those inane bits of information that actually started out as a thought-train for my next article.  It got derailed.  Regardless, bad poetry is bad poetry.  Best I could do on short notice.  Maybe Tim Burton could turn it into an enduring Christmas classic…   like Nightmare Before Christmas.

There are several reasons for my enjoyment of Nezza’s posts: 

  • really cool pics,
  • skewed take on life,
  • and, that special brand of risqué and irreverent impertinence that does not shy away from self-deprecation for a good story line.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, she does it all in pleasing, flowing English.  I would say “perfect English,” but that would imply that I consider myself to be perfect also.  I am half-way decent at English, and, I find that reading her site is a smooth, seamless experience from start to finish.  There are no linguistic pot-holes to jar the flow of information.  This is the primary reason I return often to her site…   that, and her sideways picture.

Incongruities in sentence construction have the same jarring effect as a pot-hole in a road surface;  hitting one causes the reader to lose focus, forcing a re-read of the sentence to find the correct bridge over the gap.  Several of those in a single article can take all the fun out of reading.  Nezza (hella@sydney), however, is all fun in perfect English (said it anyway, didn’t I?)  No pot-holes.

There is one construction that is quite often incorrectly expressed — the gerund phrase.  I have searched for that one in Nezza’s articles, fully expecting to see it properly presented.  To date, my grazings on her luscious tidbits…   uh…   luscious literary tidbits…   has not revealed even one.  Apparently, when it comes to being a user (of gerunds), she just says, “No!

Now, bloggers, for the most part, are not professionally trained wordsmiths;  skimming just a few sites makes that pretty obvious.  When I hit the inevitable pot-hole, I continue past it without agitation.  These writers are largely just pouring out their impressions of the rapids-infested River of Life in which they find themselves unwittingly immersed.  We are being given a view of restless waters and transient shore-lines as revealed from their individual — and painfully fragile — rafts of existence.

This appraisal is not an instance of condescendingly “cutting them some slack” for their perceived “lesser” linguistic skills.  Languages are built by usage, and the Great Learned, who observed this, created rules based on that natural evolution.  Then, the Great Learned, assuming their “rightful” places as experts-entitled-to-adulation, take credit for giving order to the structure and expect the masses to adhere to their edicts — or be subject to public snickering and finger-pointing.

I snicker not, nor do I point.  (Any intellectual high ground from which I may be speaking is along the order of a soap-box;  the Great Learned will not allow me on their dais.)  These soul-pouring bloggers are, to me, like another group of entities cast with us onto the raging River of Existence, individuals who have met the tragedy called Life and have created their own societies to deal with it and commiserate about it.  I refer to canis lupus, the gray wolf, whose soulful songs linger long and often in Nature’s wilderness air.  In that wilderness called cyber-space, bloggers raise their voices — often alone, sometimes in unison — to rail at Nature or to voice their pain, bewilderment, pleasures and triumphs, all, like the wolf, for the sake of simply expressing.  I celebrate that chorus and do apologize for my socially tone-deaf ear and possibly off-key ululations.

It’s that OTHER group that pulls snickers and finger-pointing from me.  Experts, and their caduceus-carrying heralds, The Media, hereinafter (and, hopefully, unflatteringly) referred to as “The Press (with the big P)” or, simply, “The Big Pee.”  They KNOW EVERYTHING and assume that we, the people, do not.  And, we need to be indoctrinated educated according to their insight — ON EVERYTHING.

That irks me.  It is always a delight to find they are either ignorant of what those other Great Learned have decreed, or they do not proof-read their work…   deadlines, you know.  Gotta get something out there to get a buck from the Great Unwashed.  (That be us, the general public).  We will buy anything that is broadcast, printed, or posted to the internet.  That is common knowledge among experts, you know.

Ergo, this vessel, The Queen Mary, charts a new heading;  all ahead full to giving the raspberry to the elite among us, the EXPERT KNOW-IT-ALLS (professional and free-lancing).

Next up:  To be announced.

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