Word Nerds Unite

Follow me on Twitter
February 9, 2009, 3:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

As part of my latest project referenced in the post below, I’ve started a Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/editorialcurses. No, that’s not a typo in the URL — but kudos for noticing! Visit the link in my Twitter profile to learn the story behind the name.


Calling all typos
February 7, 2009, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Grammar | Tags: , , ,

Because I’ve clearly been so good at keeping this blog up to date, I’ve decided to start a new one. Why do I think the new blog will actually thrive? Because I won’t have to dredge my brain for the content; the content will be driven by you.

Hence the title of this post. Send me found typos — take pictures, transcribe — however you prefer to deliver them is fine with me. I’ll categorize them (think misused apostrophes, perilous missing letters) and post daily. My hope is to create the most comprehensive database of amusing typos and grammatical blunders on the Web.

Please note, I’m not interested in the common comma splice. I want the meaty typos that make us editors snicker — the episodes of “pubic drunkenness” in your local paper’s crime log, the Chinese restaurant’s invitation to try their delicious “sweat and sour chicken.” You get the point.

So start sending them. I’m ready. And when I’ve got a good start, I’ll launch the blog and let you all know where it lives.

E-mail to editor (at) editorialcourses.com.

Grammarians Revolt!
January 31, 2009, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Grammar | Tags: , , , ,

I was absolutely appalled to read about the recent decision of officials in Birmingham, England’s second-largest city, to eliminate all apostrophes from the city’s street signs, calling the marks “confusing and old-fashioned.” 

I would be annoyed but considerably less offended if they said they were eliminating the apostrophes because they were too expensive to produce and too hard to see from the street level anyhow, but the claim that these critical punctuation marks “confuse people” and “are not needed” is ludicrous.

What’s worse, the British grammarians tapped to provide a challenging view in the article gave equally low credit to the general public. Marie Clair of the Plain English Society chimes in, “It’s always worth taking the effort to understand [apostrophes], instead of ignoring them.” 

If we are beyond the third grade, do we really need to “take the effort” to comprehend the most basic applications of the apostrophe required for use on street signs? There are no sentences there, no complex usage required. Although I don’t deny that a good percentage of the public misuses punctuation regularly, hence the continued usefulness of proofreaders, I still like to believe that most people can understand the difference between kings and king’s.

CNN reports on freelancing
January 14, 2009, 11:33 am
Filed under: Business

A January 14 CNN.com article reports that more and more businesses are relying on freelancers.

Proofreading Skills Challenge
July 22, 2008, 7:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In an effort to refresh things at Editorial Courses, we’ve launched a pretty excessive new promotion. Check it out at http://blog.GetEditorialCourses.com. There, you’ll find a mini proofreading skills exercise you can download, print, and mark up. Then, check your answers against the key and see how you did. Just for playing along, you’ll be entered into a drawing for an iPod Touch. (Which, by the way, is a pretty neat tool for editors — it’s like an uber-portable, Internet-ready laptop without the weight and bulk.) You’ll also get a discount code for 30 percent off the regular price of enrollment in any course. Enjoy!

So much for weekly
May 24, 2008, 6:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Apologies. As soon as I let go of my Monday posting schedule, I seemed to lose track of the concept of “weekly” altogther. But, it’s a three-day weekend, and I’m feeling my time to be a little more ample than usual. 

I see there were some hearty comments posted about my last entry. What I found most interesting about this thread is that one commenter pointed out a string of blog posts on the over/more than debate, one of which was posted on the very same day I posted mine! (Check out the Common Sense PR blog for April 30.) Crazy! Now, I know I didn’t look at that blog before I wrote my entry, and while I can’t say the same for Common Sense I’d like to believe that there was just something in the air that day that made all the world’s grammar snobs hone in on the all-too-prevalent misuse of the word over.

Like Common Sense, I believe that more than is clearly more precise than over, and if you can be more precise, why would you choose not to be? Imprecision is the cornerstone of miscommunication, and in my opinion it is just good practice to choose the best word available every single time.

I’m overtired, and that’s OK
April 30, 2008, 3:37 pm
Filed under: Grammar, Vocabulary

OK, so maybe Monday isn’t the best day of the week to post blog entries. I thought I would be able to get into a routine if I forced the issue, but it turns out Mondays are just a little bit more hectic than other days of the week. Not to mention I am more tired and less motivated so soon after the weekend. I am thinking Wednesdays or Thursdays may be better blog update days. I’m trying Wednesday this week, and we’ll see how well it goes.

Today I want to bring attention to another grammar bugaboo of mine: a particular misuse of the words over and under. It happens all the time — advertisements hype “over 200 exercises” that can be done on that flexible weight machine in your basement (if only you could make yourself go down there and clean the dust off it), and brochures tell you it takes “under five minutes” to get to their cider mill from the highway. What they really mean is more than and less than.

In fact, over means above, and under means below. If you don’t believe me, look the words over and under up in Webster’s. Not one of the many variations on each definition contains anything even close to more than or less than.

Now, most untrained minds will not even notice the mistake. But, aside from my snobbish intolerance of misused words, other, more practical issues of clarity could arise from this error, doubling its annoying factor. If I say, “I am under a hundred pounds,” do you assume: (a) that I am underweight, or (b) that I am in danger of being squashed by tenuously hanging dumbbells?