Mighty Red Pen

September 24, 2010


Filed under: Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 4:51 pm

Did you have fun celebrating National Punctuation Day? Good, me, too! Here’s a little something-something to remember the day by until next year:

How awesome is the Godzilla Mark? I can picture many ways it could be useful. For instance, when I was in elementary school, I had this teacher who I loved but who was also a little scary. And nothing was scarier than when you got some worksheet back with nothing written on it but SEE ME in big red letters. You knew instantly you had screwed up. But wouldn’t it be even more awesomely scary with a Godzilla Mark? SEE ME <GODZILLA MARK>? I’m scared just thinking about it.

Also, I could see it coming in handy in my work as an editor. I’m thinking, for example, that no one would be tempted to ask you questions such as “Are these real edits or just your personal preference?” (true story) if they got their articles back with INSERT COMMA <GODZILLA MARK> and PLEASE LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ITS AND IT’S <GODZILLA MARK>. Oh, the places we could go with this.

Hat tip Savage Chickens and also @rantyeditor.

Happy National Punctuation Day!

Filed under: Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 9:03 am

It’s National Punctuation Day (9/24)! Go to the official website for more information. Also, the topic is trending on Twitter, so check that out to see how others are celebrating!

September 22, 2010

Maybe private school is a better option after all

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:08 pm
Tags: ,

Ah, it seems some proofreader over in South Bend, Indiana, was bitten in the ass by the old public vs. pubic typo. Witness their billboard:

Let’s hope that the #1 thing on this list is that students in the South Bend schools learn to proofread their own work.

Quips Martha Brockenbrough over at the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, “If only the URL had been southbendover.com, we would have died of laughter (giddy and juvenile laughter, but still).”

Hat tip to @EditorMark and @wisekaren for this little tidbit, and to Neatorama for complete story and photo.

September 14, 2010

Assentation vs ascension

Filed under: Word wars — mighty red pen @ 4:09 pm

Hear ye! Hear ye! The Court of Proper Word Choice is now in session!

Gentles, I present to you the accused: King Richard’s Faire of Carver, Massachusetts. They stand accused of using the word assentation when they meant ascension.

While I was prepared to charge King Richard’s Faire with “Failure to use a word that exists in the English language,” let us not forget that even an old MRP can learn some new tricks (or, in this case, some new words). According to Merriam Webster, assentation is “ready assent especially when insincere or obsequious.” So it’s a word, it’s just not the right word.

Okay, here’s the deal: When we’re talking about a king taking over the throne, assuming his rightful place as ruling monarch of the land, expecting to wield supreme authority because some watery tart threw a sword at them*, the word we wish to have at the tip of our tongues is ascension (“the act or process of ascending”).

Charges amended. Next!


*Help! Help! We’re being repressed! You know you want it. Well, here it is.

September 13, 2010

Apostrophe recall

Filed under: Apostrophe catastrophe,Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 4:03 pm

Toyota may be Moving Forward, but one thing which should not have been moved forward was this ad, what with its folksy yet improperly placed apostrophe (We’re the Davis’s should be We’re the Davises).

The car manufacturer has recalled many vehicles this year. They may also wish to recall this ad.


By the way, this reminds me: Are you getting ready for National Punctuation Day? It’s September 24. This year, they’re hosting a haiku contest, for example, “Raised by two parens/I’ve been bracketed since youth./I’m an inside job.”

September 8, 2010

Got plums?

Filed under: Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 6:10 pm
Tags: ,

I got home today to find a bowl full of no fewer than 12 plums. Apparently, we are expecting William Carlos Williams to show up. At. Any. Moment.

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

September 7, 2010

Your grammar’s too Jerseylicious

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 7:42 pm
Tags: ,

Who knew we could learn so much from the cast of “Jersey Shore”?

In case you were wondering why grammar is important, John of Vlogbrothers has the compelling answer: “Because without it, we can’t tell if Snooki is polyamorously inclined or has a secret third hand.”

And in case you were wondering whether “The Situation” is a noun, verb, or adjective, he has the answer (h/t to Grammar Girl).

September 3, 2010

Take these rules and shove them

Filed under: Grammar goddess — mighty red pen @ 4:41 pm

As you know, one of my current interests is this issue of grammar and language myths (and who the heck is perpetuating them?!). Along comes Jan Freeman of Throw Grammar From the Train with a new column in the Boston Globe about this very topic. Only she goes ahead and calls them “fake language rules.” Nice.

And beginners or veterans, these student writers all risk exposure to usage myths — bogus rules of English they may hear, or read, or suddenly discover (via a teacher’s red pen) that they’ve violated.

Fake language rules can come from respected sources, but that’s no reason to believe them. As Kathryn Schulz explains in her new book, “Being Wrong,” people don’t know that they’re misinformed: Being wrong, after all, feels just like being right. But learning to write is hard enough without the burden of following non-rules. So let’s lighten the load a bit, starting with 10 usage topics that deserve a good leaving alone.

Skipping some of the usual suspects (split infinitives, ending with prepositions, etc.), Freeman shares her take on ten “un-rules,” for example, does none take is or are, is it okay to use since to mean because, the difference between healthy and healthfully, and those darned verbed nouns.

September 1, 2010

If you want to sing out, sing out

Filed under: Apostrophe catastrophe,Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 6:50 pm
Tags: ,

Because you need a new earworm, here’s a catchy little ditty: “The Apostrophe Song,” brought to you by coolrules.com.

H/t to word_czar.

Blog at WordPress.com.