Mighty Red Pen

September 30, 2014

A hoax upon both your houses!

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 7:08 pm
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So there was a bit of a kerfuffle (oh, how I love that word!) the other week when the article “Actress Betty White, 92, Dyes Peacefully In Her Los Angeles Home” hit the airwaves. I first spotted the headline when a friend posted the article on Facebook with the comment “RIP.”

’Cause I’m a word nerd like that, the first thing I noticed was the word dyes (“changes the color of something using a dye,” M-W) where dies (“to stop living,” M-W) would have been correct — if it was really an article announcing the death of Betty White. It couldn’t be, I thought, that Betty White had passed away and some news outlet had mixed up the spelling of this garden-variety homophone, could it? In that context, it made for a so-bad-it’s-good typo.

When I clicked through the link, I found the joke was on us.

Betty White Dyes Dies






News of the story traveled fast, as it does, and people began to cry “Hoax!” I started to wonder: Hoax means “to trick or deceive (someone)” (M-W), but in this case, the article never said that Betty White was actually dead. In fact, it was quite clear she was not. The only people who thought she was deceased were the people who fell for the dyes vs. dies ruse. A tricksy headline, yes, but in my opinion, not a hoax. What do you think?

July 15, 2014

Surf’s up in Rivendell

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Lit review,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 8:05 pm
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So you know that whole thing about how the elves in The Lord of the Rings are all, so, we’re getting in our fancy boats and sailing off into the sunset on our exclusive party cruise? Well, they said that’s what they were doing, but I think “west” must be code for “settling down in Cape Cod and opening a paddle shop.” ‘Cause look what I found.










In other news, if you have not yet heard “Weird Al” Yankovic’s clever and word nerd-baiting tune, “Word Crimes,” what in Middle-earth are you waiting for? You’re welcome.

March 4, 2014

It’s beginning to look a lot like National Grammar Day

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Perilous punctuation,Spellbound,Word nerds — mighty red pen @ 7:00 am

My wordies — how time has flown! If it’s March 4, it’s National Grammar Day once again, and here’s MRP with some goodies. Just. For. You.

First, h/t to one of my roving reporters for this little tidbit, spotted in Minneapolis. Oh dear, will no one think of the childrens and add an apostrophe to Children’s Center? Please?


Next, you could do no better than to head over to the official National Grammar Day site (put together by the one and only Grammar Girl) for t-shirts, contests, free wallpaper, and other Grammar Day swag. While you’re there, you’ll want to check out this year’s installment of John E. McIntyre‘s Grammarnoir serial: “Grammar Never Takes a Holiday” (and read Grammarnoirs of years past) and get the results of Editor Mark‘s grammar haiku contest. And for real-live Grammar Day fun, check out #grammarday on Twitter.

And there’s more. More! Because you’ve been so good this year, here’s the late, great Pete Seeger with his rendition of “English is Crazy” (more like English is curaaaaayzee!). You know that’s true.

And if you’ve never seen this piece by poet Taylor Mali, then you’ll want to check out “The The Impotence of Proofreading,” like, now. H/t to David for that.

And finally, wordies, please remember what MRP has always told you on this most special of word nerd days: You have been given a great power and with it comes great responsibility. Have mercy — do not use your ability to write grammatically correct, well-punctuated, and perfectly spelled sentences to put down and insult those who struggle mightily. Go forth and be kind to others who have made mistakes. Peeve no more — next time, the red pen may be pointed at you. Happy National Grammar Day!

March 4, 2013

Happy National Grammar Day!

Filed under: Grammar goddess — mighty red pen @ 7:00 am
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On this National Grammar Day, here are some suggestions of ways in which to celebrate:

Or make like MRP and bake some delicious chocolate truffle with sea salt cookies.

Wait, what? Yeah, that’s what I said: bake some cookies. Or, if baking isn’t your thing, do something else that brings you enjoyment on this day. Because, as I’ve said before and will say again, there’s nothing about National Grammar Day that should invite us to do anything other than share in the fun (and really, what goes together better than chocolate and grammar?). So settle back with a grammartini, sing the Grammar Song, and snuggle up with your favorite style guide. And have fun.

Have a happy National Grammar Day, wordies. March forth and peeve no more.

March 3, 2013

The holiday of our people

Filed under: Grammar goddess — mighty red pen @ 4:19 pm

Yo, wordies: You know what tomorrow is, right?


That’s right: National Grammar Day. Check out the official website for resources, t-shirts, songs, this year’s installment of John E. McIntyre’s Grammarnoir serial, and much more.



January 17, 2013

Judgment day

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 8:07 pm
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Okay, I don’t really judge anyone for using poor grammar. I mean, not really


Okay, maybe just a little. But just a little.

H/t someecards and Beth.

May 10, 2012

Romney hunts, shoots, and leaves

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 8:09 pm
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We got a Mitt Romney twofer here tonight, people!

1. First up, h/t to Laura from Terribly Write for this little tidbit (spotted here) about Romney and Papa John’s Pizza founder John Schnatter:

Okay, here’s the deal: if you want to say that Schnatter is the guy who made a lot of money making pizza, then he’s a pizza magnate (a magnate being “a person of rank, power, influence, or distinction often in a specified area” (M-W). If you want to say that Schnatter seems to be a little soft around the edges from all the pizza he’s been throwing back, then he may very well in fact be a pizza magnet.

2. And here’s some more Romney-related fun, courtesy of Romney’s statement on the Second Amendment from his own website:

“Mitt will work to expand and enhance access and opportunities for Americans to hunt, shoot, and protect their families“? Isn’t that all the American people really want—to be able to protect their families but also have the option to hunt and shoot them if they desire?

Whoever proofread this awkward sentence should definitely get a vote of no confidence from the Republican candidate. They should have elected to undertake a rewrite of some kind that separated the notions of “hunt and shoot” from “protect their families.” And, finally, if Romney does make it to the White House, perhaps he should consider adding a Secretary of Copy Editing to his cabinet.

March 5, 2012

Because really, every day is Grammar Day

Filed under: Grammar goddess — mighty red pen @ 8:26 pm
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National Grammar Day 2012 may be but a happy memory, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take some of the magic with us. Here are just a few ways.

Check out Editor Mark’s blog for the winner of the 2012 National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest. Read a few of the runners-up, and follow the links there to read all 200 entries. And guess what? It’s not too early to start writing your haiku for next year . . . 

Think passive voice is always wrong? Think you can never split an infinitive? Then step right this way. At the official National Grammar Day website, check out Grammar Girl’s list of Top Ten Grammar Myths. And if you’re interested in grammar myths, you’ll want to check out Stan Carey’s post at Sentence First on this topic as well.

The Grammar Monkeys have a few words of wisdom for all of us on the subject of grammar. “While grammar costs nothing, ignoring it might cost quite a bit: Research has found that not only do readers notice mistakes, they engage less with websites that have language errors, and they are far less likely to buy something from a website that has even a single misspelling.” Check out “Grammar costs nothing.”

Finally, check out the thrilling conclusion to John E. McIntyre’s serial, “Grammarnoir: Final Edition,” Part IV: The Chief.

March 3, 2012

March forth for grammar!

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 8:15 pm

Celebrate National Grammar Day on March 4! Visit the official website (maintained by Grammar Girl) for many ways to celebrate, including the recipe for the official Grammartini (developed by founder Martha Brockenbrough), grammar e-cards, t-shirts, links to other blogs that are honoring the day, desktop wallpaper by Thomas McGee like the one you see here, and much more.

Editor Mark’s National Grammar Day haiku contest closes at 10 p.m. on 3/3 (so there may still be a few hours left), but stay tuned for announcements about the winning haiku. Be sure to check out John E. McIntyre’s Grammarnoir (part I, part II, part III), always a National Grammar Day treat. Part IV will be unveiled on the big day. And check out copyediting.com for tips and ideas about celebrating grammar and language every day.

And finally, on this day and on every day, let’s remember one thing: Be kind. To err is human, and National Grammar Day isn’t about getting the biggest red pen you can find (literal or verbal) and striking fear in the hearts of those around you who may spell something incorrectly, dangle a participle, or choose the wrong word. It’s not about upping the ante on bashing others for getting something “wrong” or for pedantically correcting those around us.

Language is beautiful and complex, and we are all challenged by it sometimes. I began blogging six years ago, and in that time, I have gotten to “know” many of my fellow word nerds through their blogs (see blogroll) and through daily chatter over Twitter. I don’t always get it right (and, goodness knows, I just can’t shake that it’s/its mistake I sometimes make!), and I’m grateful to wordies who have gently shown me the way as we together explore the nuances of working with words. Conversing each day with my language comrades-in-arms about the topics in which we share a common interest is a joy. National Grammar Day is just a day for celebrating that joy.


February 7, 2012

As time goes by

Filed under: Grammar goddess — mighty red pen @ 5:38 pm
Tags: ,

H/t to Wiley for reminding us of the timelessness of our struggle as editors.

H/t David.


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