And if bad spelling and grammar annoy you half as much as they do me, you will too.
April 24, 2010
October 30, 2009
- Other (specify)
August 29, 2009
IKEA has an annoying habit of being too lazy to write instruction manuals for their furniture, relying instead on a bunch of cutesy drawings that are supposed to tell you what you need to do. Recently I purchased a bookshelf (Expedit) and learned this lesson the hard way. For future reference, this:
means “on the off chance you are not clairvoyant enough to figure out from these cryptic drawings everything you could possibly need to know, but are clairvoyant enough to recognize that there’s something you don’t get from the pictures, and are also clairvoyant enough to know Ikea’s phone number off the top of your head, but are too stupid to know that it’s Ikea you should be calling for assistance, here’s what to do.
Also note that this:
means “Don’t even think of putting this bookshelf in an upright position until it is fully assembled or the damned thing will collapse under its own weight.”
Betcha didn’t know that.
UPDATE: To their credit, they took it back without incident. Heading home now with a new one, and one more opportunity to find my same butt with my same two hands and the same flashlight, but a slightly more detailed butt-map.
FINAL UPDATE: The butt-map makes all the difference. Once I knew what should have been in the instruction manual but wasn’t, assembling the next one, and the rest of Mrs. X’s new set, was easy.
July 25, 2009
The God. Damned. Word. Is. “negotiate.” Nuh-GO-she-ate. Not “negoseeate.” Please make a note of it. Thank you.
Michael Medved argues that the phrase “abortion rights” is biased in favor of abortion because the use of the word “rights” presupposes that abortion is in fact a right. I say, the language police has made a false arrest. For one thing, abortion is a right, both as a matter of state law (recall that even famously anti-abortion South Dakota rejected two separate referenda to outlaw elective abortion in recent years), and, courtesy of a string of screwball court decisions dating back to Roe (or, arguably, Griswold), as a matter of “constitutional” law, as well, so it is indeed reasonable to debate whether abortion should be a right, it would strain logic to argue that it isn’t. Second, as polarizing as the abortion issue is, it’s damned near impossible, if not impossible, to describe that controversy in any terms that won’t manage to piss someone off. Calling abortion rights advocates “pro-abortion” pisses them off because they supposedly don’t support abortion, only a woman’s right to choose one (unless that woman happens to reside in China, in which case they support the Chinese government’s right to choose it for them). And of course it doesn’t help when pro-lifers and pro-choicers call their respective enemies “baby killers” or “anti-choice.”
I say, either call both groups by their own preferred designations (pro-life vs. pro-choice) or call them both by a single, objective, neutral term that neither side would necessarily choose for itself, but which neither could seriously argue is inaccurate, either. “Abortion rights” would seem to meet that standard. After all, it’s not as though we’re arguing over what is or isn’t an abortion (OK, maybe in some cases, but not generally). We’re arguing over what rights pregnant women, their unborn children, the fathers, and society in general should have with respect to abortion.
July 17, 2009
Have you ever noticed how often people use agent-free verb forms like “past” participles or the passive voice to avoid putting their own reputations on the line? As in, “it got broken” vs. “I broke it?”. Or “so-and-so is a trusted/respected journalist” vs. “I trust/respect so-and-so, and here’s why I think you should, too.”
Sometimes going agent-free, or de-emphasizing the agent, makes sense. If your best friend is in the hospital following a car accident, the fact that he/she was injured probably matters more to you than the question of who injured him. But in most cases, it is believed by me that the passive voice should be eschewed by all.
June 9, 2009
Linguists call it a “lexical gap” when a word doesn’t exist that probably should. Ain’t, for example, was once a perfectly fine contraction for “am not.” Once it fell out of favor, we were left with no first person equivalent of aren’tisn’t, resulting in such ludicrous tag questions as:
I’m really smart, aren’t I?
Yes, I are. But I digress. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to coin an antonym for sarchasm. The “sarchasm,” of course, represents the great gulf between your sarcastic wit and someone else’s understanding (example). But what do you call it when a misunderstanding occurs in reverse, where the other guy says something that sounds outlandish, you chuckle and say “Ha, that’s a good one,” but he was actually being serious?
March 15, 2009
Last weekend I was at the Trader Joe’s in Richmond, VA (the one that wasn’t there when I actually lived there, grrrr…) and overheard a conversation between two employees. She had an obvious southern accent, so let’s call her the local. His speech resembled my California non-accent, so he could have been from anywhere. Let’s call him the presumptive Yankee. Here’s how the conversation went down:
Local: I ain’t got no [inaudible].
Presumptive Yankee: Don’t say “ain’t got no.” That’s ungrammatical.
Local: What am I supposed to say instead?
Presumptive Yankee: “I ain’t got any.”