If I ever start a post like this, I want one of you to kill me. Only John and mistermix actually know who I am, so it’s on you two:
Over at The Washington Post, Dave Weigel wades into a disagreement between Matthew Yglesias and I.
I try not to be a grammar scold, but this burns me up.
Update. Dan Savage earned my undying respect when he began an answer to a heartfelt letter about gay life by telling the guy not to use the word “irregardless”.
And I’d be more forgiving with Conor Friedersdorf if he didn’t do the whole “Mr. Weigel”, “Mr. Yglesias” thing. If you’re going to do the whole NYT formal thing, you’ve got to master basic grammar first.
You can count on I.
I could care less.
Between you and I it burns me up, too.
You are wound way too tightly, for all intensive purposes.
I’m gonna love you til the stars fall from the sky, for you and I.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
That’s why I am rewriting the English language. There is no reason for two pronouns that mean the same thing. Also, no irregular verbs.
I’m not going to mess with most of it, but we really should stop carrying words around just because they sounded good 300 years ago.
ETA: The i-before-e rule is right out.
That one is fine, doesn’t bother me at all.
For Tunch to to be the one to kill you, vote I.
He should not have went there.
Especially on Valentime’s Day.
To the libary.
I feel suddenly vunerable.
My 8th grade English teacher would have thrown a piece of chalk at this person’s forehead, and she wasn’t even a nun.
Obviously, our children is not learning.
There’s a blogger who gets lots of accolades even though his posts are littered with ungrammatical your’s, its, and there’s. I can understand the occasional typo, but these mistakes show a disregard or carelessness for the rules of grammar. He has great ideas but he undercuts his message with these 3rd grade mistakes.
Speaking of your identity, DougJ:
Now I know what happened to Edwin Newman…
This is Obama’s fault.
I still read Yglesias daily. Love the guy.
It annoyed the snot out of
meI as well. Sigh.
maybe if we just ignore conor he will go away?
I was negative ten year old in 1964, but if I look at an electoral map and see wins in only the guys home state and the Lousiana, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina, I can make a guess that the people supporting him probably weren’t principled, first-order, conservatives erring perhaps in being too ideologically driven.
Are these people bullshitting themselves or me?
Remember that Spotless Mind movie? My favorite scene is when Jim Carey complains that K-Dub says “libary”.
If we needed an objective pronoun, the market would have provided one.
@arguingwithsignposts: Like your capitol letters?
I think MY should correct his posts a little more. I get the whole “I’m going to write fast and post it”. But proof it later in the day or let commenters hook a brother up with some copy editing.
Oh, it was Conor Friedersdorf. That explains everything.
What I love most about creative writing is that you can break all kinds of rules and some pretentious jackass with RayBan Wayfarers made into eyeglasses will say you’re a visionary.
Speaking of which, as an English major I have to critique and edit a lot of writing. I mean, a lot.
I’ve only ever had a nervous breakdown once. A person wrote an argumentative essay as if they were having a conversation via SMS-text.
Irregardless. First introduction. To boldly go where no man has gone before; Wisconsin. Walking down the road, a car appeared. I walked down the road and turned into a drug store.
I love the English language. You and me can love it.
The split infinitive thing is ticky-tacky, though. I think split infinitives sound fine.
Who took my capital letters! Someone is wrong on the Internet! This injustice will not stand!
You mean between you and I it burns I up two.
Me no understand magic picture talk.
@DougJ: I wasn’t referring to MY.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some split infinitives.
I actually really like tmesis, too.
I also fall squarely on the side of pro-oxford comma.
I have a red, blue, and yellow dog.
I’m pretty sure that my earliest teachers *would* jump your ass for not using a second person and “I” as a pronoun in a possessive phrase. That was an Assemblies of God school, but I thought it was just archaic and not incorrect.
“the word “irregardless””
I’m an English professor. I often tell my students that it’s very important to master basic grammar, because even if they become rich Masters of the Universe, their underlings will point and snicker at their stupidity. And that it’s much more likely that they’ll be middle managers or sales reps or something, and that they should want to keep their Powerpoints from becoming a company-wide joke.
I suppose Mr. Friedersdorf went to a much more elite school than mine, however.
This one drives me bonkers
Btw did anyone ask America’s Hockey Mom who she’s rootin’ fer?
The city that booed her or the one who gave us the Commie Kenyan in the White House?
@Rosali: TNC? MY’s problem seems to spelling more than grammar.
Note to Conor:
Plz don’t kill gramma, not cute if you are not a lolcat
I’m pretty certain he was aiming for the snark there.
I think this thread was made for one of my irregular posts.
@ Rosali: I hate it when TNC does it as well, and that is whom I suspected you referenced. It’s distracting to the purists among us, but then, I still believe “presently” means “in a moment,” as opposed to “currently” or “at the present time,” so you can get a sense of just how old fashioned I am.
What about this phrase am I supposed to find objectionable? It was not ambiguous and it doesn’t sound especially clumsy. Exactly what rule is being violated?
I was. I also added an example of a tautology, a dangling participle, a split infinitive, and an ambiguous sentence.
By the way, I once wrote a paper where I used at least one portmanteau word per sentence.
I had at least three references to Hugo Gernsback’s “scientifiction.”
Don’t worry Doug — I’m sure I could hunt you down if John and mistermix fail.
@RedKitten: Or we could just send Tunch.
Yeah, that’s *exactly* the English I had beat in to me as a kid. I’ve abandoned it because no one writes like that anymore and it sounds absurd. I think it’s correct though.
Friedersdorf’s malgrammar is inflammatory to grammer snobs.
It is also difficult to understand what he is saying, which is the real problem, in my opinion.
Edit: ha ha, ‘inflammatory’, get it? Nudge nudge. Isn’t ‘inflammatory’ the same kind of ambiguous construction, or are I wrong? If me not, where is the dividing line between those constructions we use all the time and are accepted and those that are not?
Thank gawd! I thought I was the only one!
What is wrong with those people?
@Chet: It’s supposed to be “between Matthew Yglesias and me.” General rule of thumb is that if you take out the other person, it should still sound good.
So, “He gave the cake to John and I” is wrong, because “He gave the cake to I” obviously is wrong.
Instead, it’s “He gave the cake to John and me.” When you are the OBJECT of the sentence, you use “me”, not “I”.
It’s supposed to be, “between Matthew Yglesias and me”, since “you and me” is the object of the preposition, “between”, and should take the accusative form of the pronoun.
In the sentence, “Over at The Washington Post, Dave Weigel wades into a disagreement between Matthew Yglesias and I.”
Dave Weigel is the subject of the sentence and Matthew Yglesias and the writer are the compound object of the sentence, thus the writer should’ve said “between Matthew Yglesias and me.”
This reminds me a lot of people not understanding when to use “who” and when to use “whom.”
I recommend anyone who has questions about these things pick up a copy of the Strunk and White “The Elements of Style.”
One of my English professors told me this joke once and it has always stayed in my mind:
Maybe you are right. Maybe, I just gave up and would have always formed that sentence “between me and yglesias”, but it seems like there is some hoary English rule reason why that I is correct.
Blast, WordPress isn’t allowing me to edit my post. I’ve made a comma error in my first sentence. FYWP.
Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?
In fact, I am a huge proponent of the Oxford comma because in technical writing (I’m thinking specifically of math), it changes the meaning.
Nah, I’m mixing up past and present tense. n/m.
*sigh* and more grammar pedants crawl out of the woodwork.
If you really, really want English to be a prescriptive, rather than ACTUAL LIVING language, there’s a simple solution, oh pedants:
Don’t use it.
No, really. Try using classical Latin or Tang Chinese, or some other dead, relic language. Because not even a language with an official Academie (ie: French) can keep actual speakers from fiddling with the pretty, pretty, pretty, totally fake-ass rules that y’all pedants adore.
DougJ: here’s some science for you and I. I mean myself and thou. Uh, us and we? Er, me and yourself. Yeah, that’s the ticket:
@DougJ: Why do you need a comma when you have a conjunction?
The original example grates on me to no end. I was once a complete purist, but have since had that tendency beaten out of my soul by a combination of something called “business writing” and PowerPoint. An early mentor informed me that semicolons were superfluous, then the rule became no more complex sentences. My years spent in IT, attempting to explain basic statistics to C-levels have rotted my brain, as has the internet.
That said, Jesus Fucking Christ, what moron doesn’t know the difference between subject and object pronouns after the 5th grade? Or did the nuns just scare me into compliance?
Oxford comma for the win!
Something about Rosali’s vaguely accusatory phrasing made me hope she meant me, but I can’t think of any accolades I’ve ever received.
Problem is that in and ir as prefixes can have at least two different meanings. When in or ir are used as synomyms for en as a prefix, then there are additional meanings.
Merriam Webster says:
In, ir: not : non, un, usually il before l , im- before b, m, or p , ir before r , and in before other sounds
In, ir: within : into : toward : on usually il before l , im before b, m, or p , ir before r , and in before other sounds
In, ir, as a form of en
1 : put into or onto : cover with : go into or onto in verbs formed from nouns
2 : cause to be in verbs formed from adjectives or nouns
3 : provide with in verbs formed from nouns
4 : so as to cover : thoroughly in verbs formed from verbs in all senses usually em before b, m, or p
(I hope I’ve removed all the dashes to avoid unleashing strikeout Hell on this here blog.
edit: let’s hope the Texas school book people keep their noses out of this problem, otherwise we will be lost.
Dave Weigel wades into a cake I was eating? I should have looked at this before I started drinking :\
when you use as many words as Mr Friedersdorf, you’re bound to misplace one or two.
hell, i can barely get a full sentence out without fucking it up somehow.
i blame Obama.
I can’t think of an example off the top of my head but I know I have seen places where it made a difference in meaning in math papers.
No, there isn’t. The real reason is that as kids, it has been beaten into us that it’s polite to put the other person first in such a construction as a compound subject or compound object. Most examples used to illustrate this are compound subjects.
“Mom, me and Johnny are going out side.”
“No, say ‘Johnny and I are going outside.”
“Because it’s the polite way of doing it.”
Then the construction “whoever and I” becomes wired as the default wording in the mind and then gets misused such as Conor did above.
The real problem is that the “less” in regardless is already a negative, so putting the negative “ir” as a prefix creates ABSOLUTE PANDEMONIUM (Pandæmonium, scenic capital of Hell).
I think people see words like irregular and think–oh, maybe I should say irregardless.
I’m guessing he gets paid by the word?
Yeah, that’s exactly it.
To be fair, my Struck and White “The Elements of Style” Fiftieth Anniversary Edition (the Holy Tome of Style and Grammar in my college’s English Department), it strongly advocates the use of the Oxford, or “serial” comma in every type of writing as a stylistic mechanism.
Except, of course, for the names of businesses.
For example, “Law offices of Duwey, Cheetum & Howe.”
Yeah, I can’t think of an example either, but to return to Josh’s original example: “I have a red, blue, and yellow dog”, may not have the same meaning as “I have a red, blue and yellow dog”. A subtle distinction, but a distinction nonetheless. Irregardless. Also, too.
Apropos of very little (yay! pretentious foreign word!), but relevant to the question of spelling, is the fact that we Americans have already tried to address at least one aspect of our utterly ridiculous language: the spelling. (Fer cryin out loud, look at that last sentence and imagine a furriner trying to pronounce all those words using the letters as they’re written!)
Endorsed by Teddy Roosevelt himself, until he chickened out and reversed his executive order:
Looks ridiculous only because our language is ridiculous already.
“it seems like there is some hoary English rule reason why that I is correct. ”
I think the proper way to say that is: “it seems like there is some hoary English rule reason why I am correct.”
@schrodinger’s cat: There is a difference between
blue, red, and yellow flowers (3 flowers, all single colors)
blue, red and yellow flowers. (this could be 2 flowers, one blue and one red and yellow).
It’s also called a serial comma, denoting a series,
@Josh: In this case I think you are right. I had read once that in, ir, en, as a prefix can also mean ‘very’ and assumed it was one of the meanings listed in my comment above.
But ‘very’ is not listed as one of the possible meanings.
So ‘inflammatory’ would mean ’cause to be flammatory’, when ‘in’ is used as a version of ‘en’? And not meaning, as I had thought, ‘very flammatory’?
I have fallen into grammar confusion. I will just do whatever my teachers told me and not think about it any more. That is probably the best course with the awful English language.
And I was under the impression that “irregardless” was invented by Al Capp in “Li’l Abner”, but Wikipedia tells me it dates at least to 1912. Hmmm.
@PurpleGirl: Yes in this example the comma does change the meaning, I was thinking of the example Josh gave.
I used to have an old dictionary of my grandfather’s with an appendix in the back with a list of the new simplified spellings that the commission recommended. My grandfather was born in 1907 and the dictionary dated from ten years later.
Do you mean Strunk and White?
The best way to say this is that English actually breaks its own rules.
Trust me. I’ve listened to verbose explanations of rules or situations like the one that you’ve brought up and none of it really makes any sense.
As far as I can tell, it has to do with the evolutionary history of the English language–much of our diction is stolen from other languages.
Your best bet to understand this isn’t to try to figure it out by the rules of grammar of the English language, but by researching the etymology of the word “inflammatory.”
“The best way to say this is that English actually breaks its own rules.”
Thanks. I will remember principle and never fail to put it into practice myself.
As for simplified spelling, I am agin it. Our precious youth will lose access to their Chaucer. The horror!
addresst! No way. Adress ed, my good man.
Yes. It was a misspelling.
Just because I’m an English major doesn’t mean I know how to speel.
@DougJ: It wasn’t you. I don’t want to be negative and name names.
If part of your job title says “Editor”, you should know the difference between various pronouns and possessives. I don’t know how a widely-published writer can constantly make the same grammatical mistakes.
This sort of mistake is commonly made by people aware their grammar is not up to the mark but who are trying to fake it and sound “educated”.
PS I also love Yglesias but hate his typos and homonyms.
Me try not to be a grammar scold scold but posts like this burn I up.
And yes me know that mistermix beet I two the punch line. Me just got in the beer line.
I’ve been seeing “should of” (you know…instead of “should’ve”) a lot recently. It really grinds my gears.
I am objectively pro-Oxford comma, also too.
Exactly. That’s what bugs me about it.
God damn. You people need to get laid.
If you say so. I was beat by nuns when I tried to use “me” in a list that included another person. They were adamant that it’s always “Matt Yglesias and I”. Or, in this specific case, maybe “between Matt Yglesias and myself.” “Me” is never used, they were pretty clear about that.
So it doesn’t sound at all ungrammatical, which as far as I’m concerned, means it’s right. People need to get over their language prescriptivism. Hint – your public school grammarians weren’t automatically more in-tune with the inviolable Rules of English than a bunch of nuns were.
@Corner Stone: OK OK, I’m gonna go out and seduce a grammarian right now. Calm down.
Chet: I am only batting about 300 on grammar on this thread, but I think it all hangs on whether you take the ‘between’, or ‘than’ or whatever to be a preposition or some sort of conjunction. Hence the disagreement among snooty grammarians. I think I will look for a ‘between you and I’ type, they are really kinky.
Edit edit: I think I mean conjunction. But probably blew that one too.
This kind of thing literally makes my head explode.
It mek no problem for I.
One of my favorite things back in the punk and new wave days was how the NYT would stick to their style guide no matter how absurd the result.
Mr. Hell, Mr. Pop, Mr. Vicious, Mr. Rotten, Mr. Doe, Mr. Zoom, and Mr. Ant.
It was wicked pissah.
The grammatical error that gets me (and which I hear all the time) is a compound subject with a singular verb, i.e., wind and rain is. Drives me nuts! I literally hear this mistake on the teevee daily.
I’m literally embarrassed for you.
It’s well-known among linguists that Strunk and White gets nearly everything wrong. It’s a terrible source for grammar, because neither Strunk nor White were actually grammarians.
@Chet: Chet, some nuns beat differently. Ours constantly reminded us that if you can replace the names with us, you use me; else if you would use we as a replacement, you use I. Thus spoke the ruler.
I had the oxford comma beaten out of me when I was forced to write in AP style. Sad really.
Mr. Tea, Mr. Cube, and Mr. Shakur paint a vision of inner city life that is at once both disturbing and compelling, rife with chaos but also with beauty.
Oh, so you’re inflammable? And flammable, also, too.
You and I must make a pact, we must bring salvation back
Where there is love, I’ll be there
I’ll reach out my hand to you, I’ll have faith in all you do
Just call my name and I’ll be there
I’ll be there to comfort you,
Build my world of dreams around you, I’m so glad that I found you
I’ll be there with a love that’s strong
I’ll be your strength, I’ll keep holding on
Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter
Togetherness, well that’s all I’m after
Whenever you need me, I’ll be there
I’ll be there to protect you, with an unselfish love that respects you
Just call my name and I’ll be there
If you should ever find someone new, I know he’d better be good to you
‘Cause if he doesn’t, I’ll be there
Don’t you know, baby, yeah yeah
I’ll be there, I’ll be there, just call my name, I’ll be there
(Just look over your shoulders, honey – oo)
I’ll be there, I’ll be there, whenever you need me, I’ll be there
Don’t you know, baby, yeah yeah
I’ll be there, I’ll be there, just call my name, I’ll be there…
@jl: When you get to Conjunction Junction please let us know.
@TrishB: Nuns in my school never used the ruler, but they were snarky, you never wanted to be at the receiving end of their acerbic wit and biting humor.
Good grammar turns women on. Trust me.
I’m partly being sarcastic in my vaunted opinion of it. Of course it isn’t to be used as an end-all reference book. It’s just handy to have.
To point on specific parts that are incorrect is fairly easy. Much of the stuff the book covers is for novice writers. This makes sense because most speakers of the English language can’t define the term “gerund.”
For people with basic questions of when to use “who vs. whom” or “its and it’s” it’s a good guide. Affect vs. effect and all that.
The really advanced guidebooks that are generally accepted to the most accurate will, based on my personal experience, go right over the heads of most people.
Also, the only times I’ve ever used “The Elements of Style” is when I’ve been in a CNF or a CW class. Breaking the rules and being flexible with style are pretty much expected in these classes.
With my new flower delivery via bicycle, I’m going to peddle around to petal some pedals. The net affect will be to effect people’s emotions; their very influential.
You mixed up “affect” and “effect.”
I guess I should have made it clear I was going for snark by ignoring all of the other problems.
So if it was “Asshole, waded into a conversation between Yglesias and I”. That’s correct? I can’t believe I haven’t thought about this stuff in years and just avoid the formation.
Somebody had to say it, and I’m glad you did.
I love me some Oxford Comma, too. And I was trained to always use it, although the person doing so did let us know that some inferior people didn’t use it. Then I got out into the real world (well, nearer to it) and learned to accommodate stickler senior co-authors who couldn’t abide the Oxford Comma.
Then it should give better examples, frankly.
And here’s the thing – E.B. White was a great writer! But he made the mistake of thinking that he was a grammarian as a result. The truth is that your skill at playing the game of grammar is a completely different thing than your skill as a writer. What novice writers should learn is the craft of writing, not the pastime of grammar gotchas. How to express an idea clearly, how to create narrative flow, what to write about. None of that is to be found in Elements of Style. It’s of no use to the novice writer except perhaps as a cautionary tale – the moment you think you’ve caught someone up in a grammar fail, you’re probably in the process of committing your own. (Just like Strunk and White did, throughout the Elements of Style.)
I worked at a CHR when the song, “Who’s Zooming Who” came out. My girlfriend would for years afterwards make fun of me for saying “Who’s Zooming Whom.”
@jl: I once worked with a girl who was fond of saying, “It just furiated me!” Said it all the time. I finally pulled her aside one night and told her the word was “infuriated.” She was grateful and a little embarrassed, considering how fond she was of the (wrong) word. I told her not to worry; everyone still knew what she was talking about.
@Josh: Exactly. I don’t know how the hell anyone learns English as a second language. It’s a mess. Some SF writer once said something like: “All languages borrow from other languages, but English follows other languages down blind alleys, clubs them over the head, and rifles through their pockets.”
You need the “Blogospheric Navel-Gazing” tag on this. That way I know right away that it’s something I don’t give a shit about.
It is irritating, but sometimes people post in haste and don’t take a minute to review what they wrote. Why, you dropped this clanger on Friday:
All of us could use a copyeditor now and then. Some of us more than others, it’s true.
@handy: That’s why I’m here. To make the tough calls.
@schrodinger’s cat: I’m am indulging in more than a bit of hyperbole with the ruler comment. The sisters who taught me were some of the best people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet. Really, even the one we locked out of the classroom in 7th grade.
My mom did have real stories to tell about the ruler, albeit many years earlier at the same school.
Indeed. I’m extraordinarily grateful to be a native English speaker, not just because it’s the only language you really need in the world these days (and I’m not particularly good at picking up a second language) but because if I didn’t already speak English I’d have to learn it, and English would be such a horrible, awful language to learn (and I took Hebrew, long past the early instructional phase where the vowels haven’t yet disappeared). About the only other language that could so terrify me would be Chinese (which, to be honest, is probably much worse to learn, what with the tonality and the thousands of characters). Sure, English at least avoids some of the complicated systems of gendered nouns and conjugated verb tenses that many other languages – but at least those languages mostly follow their complicated systems. English is just wildly inconsistent.
Nah, it would be “Asshole waded into a conversation between Yglesias and me,” since you wouldn’t say “between we.” Then again, I’ve been at a birthday party and am +unknown, so it is entirely possible that you are poking fun at some misspelling or misstatement that I’ve made, and I wouldn’t even notice at the moment.
@Warren Terra: Learning Spanish has made me realize how many needless filler words we use in English.
Or at least we’uns in Texas.
Bill E Pilgrim
I just looked for some examples of serial comma usage and found this as the example on Wikipedia. It’s an apocryphal book dedication:
This could be read as meaning that the author’s parents were Ayn Rand and God, is their point.
My mind reels with sarcastic replies, though not having to do with the comma, because they’re right about that. If it’s ambiguous without the comma, then add it.
Anyone who thinks these things are simple should see the tech writing style guides for some large corporation. There are style boards in some of them who meet to hash these things out, weekly or monthly. The important thing is just to make a decision so everyone does it the same way.
One that I hate BTW is “probably apocryphal”. You have to look up what apocryphal means to know what’s wrong with that.
The other is “begs the question” abuse, but that’s not an error in grammar so much as an error in knowing what a common expression actually means.
For most of the common things that people complain about however I always refer to one chapter of Stephen Pinker’s book “The Language Instinct” called “The Language Mavens”, in which he dismantles the arch advice of everyone from William Safire to Edwin Newman. Anyone griping about supposed misuse of “hopefully” should read it.
@Bill E Pilgrim: So will the glibertarians start using that example as their authorial acknowledgment, do you think?
Bill E Pilgrim
@TrishB: If so I hope they include the comma, because the idea of a spawn of Ayn Rand and God makes me think of something out of “Ghostbusters”.
The Oxford comma? Check out “Eats, shoots, and leaves” by Lynne Truss. More fun than Strunk and White, too.
Soul On Iceq
There’s a reason why it wasn’t called the “I Generation”
Soul On Ice
There’s a reason why it wasn’t called the “I Generation”
Not nearly as much as if you smell like fresh laundry. Trust me.
Hee-hee. Too bad her title is Eats, Shoots and Leaves. No Oxford comma.
@Bill E Pilgrim: @Bill E Pilgrim:No comma involved, and I’m thinking of something more along the lines of the X-Files’ Donnie Pfaster.
Bill E Pilgrim
This is a fun illustration of the insanity of trying to find consistency in English spelling:
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, lough and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead –
For goodness sake don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s dose and rose and lose –
Just look them up – and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart –
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d mastered it when I was five!
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
To be fair, when the other primary school kids were learning basic grammar, CF was working on getting his own name spelled correctly.
Punctuation or spelling corrections in a sentence referencing MY just destroys my irony-meter. He amazes I.
Bill E Pilgrim
@Steeplejack: Her title is a joke, meant to demonstrate the danger of misusing commas. (In that particular phrase, not only is a serial comma inappropriate, but so is the first comma.)
On the other hand, anyone who reads her book should read these as well:
@Bill E Pilgrim:
I realize that, but nonetheless that is the title.
HA! This is too true.
This reminds me of a story. I had a girlfriend once who always used to smell me. I asked her why, and she said that if her nose was attracted to me, the rest of her would follow.
She then said I smelled nice and gave me one of those silly dramatized winks.
I may be an introverted geek who would rather sit at his typewriter all day than frolic outside, but I am obsessive about hygiene.
Bill E Pilgrim
@Steeplejack: Okay I may be misunderstanding.
A serial comma couldn’t possibly be in that phrase, was my point, since it needs three or more things in a list. The issue she’s illustrating with that one is entirely different.
It’s because of the whole, “It’s Matt Y and I were fighting” correction that people have now started to say “between Matt Y and I”. Even President Obama does it, and it chaps my fucking ass every time. However, split infinitives at the end? Fine. I’m with RedKitten. If you take out the other person, the “I” or “me” needs to make sense on its own.
I am pro-Oxford comma, but only after a lot of soul-searching. And, this chick loooooves correct grammar usage almost as much as she loves impeccable personal hygiene.
@Josh: I had an ex, and I really dug his smell. I would sniff at him whenever I could. Plus, he had really good grammar usage.
@Bill E Pilgrim: There are three things. One eats, then shoots, then leaves (the premise).
Bill E Pilgrim
@Steeplejack: Never mind. I think I get it now.
Could have been “Eats, shoots, and leaves” even if it were satire. Got it.
Bill E Pilgrim
@asiangrrlMN: Yeah I wasn’t following what SJ’s joke was. Too early here perhaps. Got it now. Thanks.
I am so late to this party, but THANK YOU, DougJ. We’re both Rochester area folks so sometime I hope I can buy you a drink. Grammar geeks unite!
@Bill E Pilgrim: Go have your coffee. It’ll help. I think I need some myself.
@Bill E Pilgrim:
Yes, you are misunderstanding. Gretchen D put the Oxford comma in the title in her comment. The title I gave is the correct one–Eats, Shoots & Leaves, to be absolutely pedantic–and still includes the joke you referenced.
Pet peeves: definately, “smart” quotes that create open single quote instead of an apostrophe — ’80s
Also, I wish that the n-declension had won out cause ‘yourn’ is so much sexier than ‘yours’
@Bill E Pilgrim:
My “joke”–which I am heartily sick of now–was only that Gretchen D said, “The Oxford comma? Check out ‘Eats, shoots, and leaves’ by Lynne Truss,” and added an Oxford comma that is not in fact in the title.
I used to have a boss that used ‘irregardless’ and ‘regretfully’ on a regular basis.
Like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Bill E Pilgrim
@Steeplejack: Yes once I went back and read it I got all that.
Wasn’t meant as a criticism by the way, I was just trying to be helpful, which it turns out you didn’t need.
@asiangrrlMN: Too early for anything to be open, but a cup of tea here will do. English stuff, real tea, with milk. That way the coffee will be like the second stage after the booster.
I’m going to be as honest as I can be.
My sticking point is teeth. Good dental hygiene is a must. I cannot stress this enough.
In my 22 years of life, I have not had a single cavity. I haven’t even been in danger of having a cavity. My dentist continues to be astounded because I usually see her once every two years.
I’m one of those rare people who floss every day. (Listerine is the devil.)
I am often haunted by these dreams of losing my teeth in really dramatic ways.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m already so obsessive about teeth, or if my obsession for dental cleanliness comes from these dreams.
By the way, Chet, I agree with you about how writers should learn to write. I didn’t actually even know the rules about the usage of semicolons until I started college; however, I had an instinctive ability to use them correctly based on my reading and writing skills (I scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT sections for reading and writing).
You do understand what this represents, right?
Loss power, sexual potency, and fear of the new.
And we’re supposed to trust you on your claim of grammar + women?
Clarity is all. To me the Oxford comma makes no difference in the phrase above. They both mean that there is one three-colored dog. If the author wants to indicate that he has one of each, he should write, “I have a red dog, a blue dog[,] and a yellow dog.” The panel will also accept “I have a red, a blue[,] and a yellow dog.”
Spend some time around the English/ Classical Studies/ Comparative Literature Departments at any University and eat crow.
I can’t believe I’ve actually met someone who thinks that some jerkoff on the internet can write about what dreams mean and actually be an authority on it.
Next you’ll be telling me that everything Freud said was absolutely, one-hundred percent true.
I mean, far be it from me to think that my teeth dreams are indicative of my fear of losing teeth.
I’m a bit of a grammar Nazi, but I don’t really mind “irregardless.” English vocabulary is already hopelessly confusing and illogical; focusing on just one example is unfair.
For example, we use “overwhelmed” to refer to being overcome or overpowered, while we use “underwhelmed” to refer to the opposite. However, the word “whelmed” actually means the exact same thing as “overwhelmed,” so the “over-” in “overwhelmed” is just as redundant as the “ir-” in “irregardless.”
Bill E Pilgrim
@Steeplejack: I agree entirely. I had the same thought reading that one.
More often than not the best solution is to rewrite the sentence, not to fiddle with punctuation.
Sorry, I call bullshit on this. There is no difference in meaning between those phrases. Can you provide a single quasi-official citation for this “rule”?
In AP style (and that of almost all U.S. newspapers), for example, the Oxford comma is not used, and there is no double-secret exception that means you really, really have three things instead of possibly two things.
You have thoroughly whelmed me :-D
Yeah, I’m pretty gruntled about the whole thing.
In the world of literature, canny and uncanny mean the same thing.
Seriously. We spent a week in my fantasy lit. class talking about this and how it related to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”.
Like I said in regard to a similar discussion, the best way to understand why whelmed and overwhelmed are so similar is to research the etymology of the words.
I think you need to chill out. As far as I can tell, it’s really only a preference. I helped a friend edit some essays for a writing class and she couldn’t use the Oxford comma because of the college’s writing policies.
I shrugged my shoulders and said, OK.
I don’t think anyone is actually arguing that it isn’t a matter of personal preference.
Chicago actually encourages its use. More than that, it’s most often a staple of prosody and not journalistic writings.
And, hey, all you people, put your commas and periods inside your quotation marks. That’s U.S. typographical style.
Question marks and exclamation points are handled a little differently, depending on the meaning.
@DougJ: The word is till, not til. It is not a shortened form of until but is a separate word:
You don’t always put your periods inside of quotation marks.
In that class, I got an “A”.
In some parallel universe, you mean? Because where I come from canny means shrewd or clever and uncanny means eerie, mysterious or suggesting something beyond the ordinary.
God, this whole thread is hypering me into the “Someone is wrong on the Internet” zone. Serenity now.
I am not talking about the choice of whether to use a serial comma or not. That is largely a matter of preference, or “house style.” I am objecting to the assertion that its presence or absence substantially changes the meaning of the phrase.
Very late to this party.
But the Oxford comma can nuzzle my taint.
I would write:
But in your example I would still write:
@Steeplejack: Sorry. This is one example in which I knowingly break the rule. If I am editing a formal paper, I would do as you suggest in your example. If I am writing fiction or for myself, I would put the period outside the quotes. It just makes more inherent sense.
@Josh: I brush three times a day and floss twice a day because I had a series of awful events with my teeth. And, a dream about crumbling teeth does indicate a fear of not having enough power or loss of power. Of course, it’s not always true, but it’s a pretty archetypal understanding of that dream.
Man, I am loving this thread so much, I am going to take it out and floss with it. Or something. Something, by the way, which other commenters and I can mull over, pontificate upon, and then submit to Tunch for grammatical approval. That decision will not, however, stay between Tunch and me.
Then so much easier to write:
150 posts and nobody has gone Backus Naur yet? Ameteur nerds!
First of all, I’d like to comment that, perhaps, your problem is that you’re using a dictionary and not Freudian analysis. In what world does the use of the phrase “in literature” exclude Freudian definitions of “uncanny” and “canny”?
Second of all, people demonstrated that the absence of the serial comma could create confusion by use of this phrase: “I want to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God.”
Finally, I was only giving an example of when a period falls outside of quotes at the end of a sentence. And your assertion that you can enclose it inside if your referencing letters and you use quotes to denote, say, a grade, is wrong. It’s one of those nifty exceptions that breaks the accepted rules in the English language. Probably a result of the evolution of syntax and punctuation because of things like printing presses.
Any psychologist worth his degree will tell you that dreams are meaningless–nothing but the random firing of neurons.
Any dickhead on the internet worthy of the title dickhead will tell make some shit up about dreams.
Any backseat philosopher can give you an archetypal meaning to a dream.
I’m saying that a lot of it is based on the 3Ps: prejudice, presumption, and perception. I actually think the problem is more related to a series of traumas I suffered because of my hemophobia when I was a child, and it was somewhat traumatizing to actually taste blood after losing a tooth. So I might have taught myself to connect losing teeth with my hemophobia. I think that makes much more sense to me.
I’d like to know what the foundation for these archetypal patterns are, though. I’ve never bothered looking it up because I thought it was all nonsense.
@Steeplejack: Very true. However, I am a rebel like that.
@Something Fabulous: You win!
@Josh: Well, you’re wrong about psychologists. Many psychologists think dreams have meanings. Here, for example, is the Google search for dreams and psychologists. I am afraid you are letting your own prejudices allow you to dismiss the whole phenomena. Like I said, not all dreams are archetypal. You have a valid take on your own dreams.
As for archetypes, start with Jung. He was big on archetypes. I am not a Jung fan, but he’s pretty much the universal go-to guy on archetypes.
FYWP. Part I:
@Steeplejack: True. However, I am a rebel like that. I will break what I think are stupid rules.
@Something Fabulous: You win!
@asiangrrlMN: I must say I enjoy the smell of pedanticism in the evening.
FYWP, Part II:
@Josh: Well, you’re wrong about psychologists. Many psychologists think dreams have meanings. Here, for example, is the Google search for dreams and psychologists. I am afraid you are letting your own prejudices allow you to dismiss the whole phenomena. In fact, it’s pretty staggering that you would make such a sweeping statement about psychology, a subject about which I happen to know about more than a little. Like I said, not all dreams are archetypal. You have a valid take on your own dreams.
As for archetypes, start with Jung. He was big on archetypes. I am not a Jung fan, but he’s pretty much the universal go-to guy on archetypes.
@Yutsano: Tastes like chicken!
Hey, Anne Laurie, go ahead and delete my comment at 167.
@asiangrrlMN: BUT WHAT DOES CHICKEN TASTE LIKE??
Coming late to the thread, but I thought I should report that I e-mailed E. J. Dionne over the weekend about this:
He (or a copy editor) could have checked the Bible on that one, even if they didn’t know grammar.
I actually meant it to fall into line as an absurd postulation based on a faulty preconception. I know, based on personal experience, that the assertion that psychologists believe that dreams are the random firing of neurons is wrong.
In the same token, I feel it’s fairly absurd to take one statement without a real context and extrapolate what it must mean, especially when the entire subject of the sentence is subjective.
Looking back on it, I think I was angry that some jackass would use that to insinuate that my opinions were somehow invalid because he probably did a quick Google search at some point to look up some fairly common archetypes for dreams that, based on my experience, have never rang true for my own.
I’m an insomniac so it’s likely that I’m talking to myself at this point. Eh. Oh well.
Josh: “Any jackhole on the Internet…”
Rustyshed: “nuh-uh! Look at this google search!”
Since I’ve had to spend awhile consoling a 14mo boy in the middle of the night I’ve missed a lot since I started reading this. Funny stuff.
I like to break rules for emphasis and follow them for clarity. I particularly like the list “parents, Ayn Rand and God” because the fault in it is that “, Ayn Rand and God” becomes a qualifier of parents in that construction in the same manner that “my father, Charles,” is a qualifier. That would be entirely different from creating a direct connection between words in the flower example of “I have red, blue and yellow flowers as opposed to “I have red, blue, and yellow flowers”, which still is unclear as to how many flowers actually are being referred to and the color mix or lack of mix in a flower since the list could easily mean all the flowers are all three colors.
I really don’t like to mess with people about grammar unless I simply do not understand what is meant. On the odd occasion when I’ve used “irregardless” I’ve had a strong desire to kick myself and the “I” usage isn’t one I’ve ever used since both seem like pretension seeking meaning.
I’ve also been known to hit send on a comment that even I didn’t understand afterward.
Or bother to make, like this one.
@asiangrrlMN: Yay! Are there prizes?! Will you send me a pitchfork(R)?
Oh hell, people go crazy telling me why I almost universally have no memory of dreams. It really is very remarkable for me to have any memory of having dreamed. I don’t care about it, since it is my norm, but it stirs all kinds of ideas in others.
This thread is making me nauseous.
Ouch. Some grammar “gaffes” are actually correct and merely style choices, but that “I” is hypercorrection. Friedersdorf’s occasionally pretentious tone makes it worse, though.
That Other Mike
Was it wrong of me to register at T/S solely for the purpose of making a rude comment on that post?
@Linguistboy: Your argument might make sense if Friedersdorf’s sentence wasn’t a clear example of the trap sombody else mentioned: he was attempting to stay in line with the prescriptive ideal by using the “more polite” sounding “(him) and I”. He wasn’t bucking the grammar establishment and participating in the subscriptive evolution of a vibrant, active language; he was trying to sound formal and got it wrong, ’cause I guess he’s kinda dumb.
It’s gonna be ok man. We understand impotency can make some gentlemen irritable. We’re here for you.
@DougJ: I believe Rosali’s referring to Mr. Cole.
Also, is Friedersdorf an ESL speaker? This particular mistake totally smacks of ESL.
I believe Rosali was referring to Ta-Nehisi Coates. Great writer with crippling typos.
That sounds like a pretty neat trick. You could probably make a lot of friends that way.
@Tax Analyst: Make friends? Who are you, Victor Frankenstein?