Author Topic: Grammar Nightmares  (Read 7967 times)

Josh

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Grammar Nightmares
« on: January 18, 2007, 07:33:37 PM »
"Alright, well, for the sake of this conversation, let's say the book does not exist."

Sarah

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2007, 08:29:34 AM »
Oh, my.  I'll need to ration my reading, though; otherwise it will depress me more than it amuses me.

You might enjoy the Chicago Manual's site, arcu, particularly this page.  I get a monthly e-mail alerting me to the latest round of questions and answers and promptly visit to bask in the company of my brethren and sistren.

What's sad is that even university presses are losing their grip on grammar (or at least their interest in enforcing its rules).  I foresee a time when I will not be able to find work because I insist on correcting too many mistakes. 

Emerson

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2007, 01:32:32 PM »
This is good, too, for kicking everyday word-choice errata:

http://wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html

~EmD
"You said it. I didn't."

Josh

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2007, 08:43:08 PM »
I just got a similarly inclined friend that illustrated edition of The Elements of Style. Jesse Thorn interviewed the illustrator, Maira Kalman, last March. It can be heard here.
"Alright, well, for the sake of this conversation, let's say the book does not exist."

Emily

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2007, 10:36:38 PM »
http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/internet/01/22/grammar.girl/index.html
 "'Grammar Girl' a quick and dirty success" - cnn article.

I listened to the podcast, but I didn't like it.

Sarah - maybe you can start your own grammar gal podcast.

Josh

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2007, 11:47:16 PM »
http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/internet/01/22/grammar.girl/index.html
 "'Grammar Girl' a quick and dirty success" - cnn article.

I listened to the podcast, but I didn't like it.

Sarah - maybe you can start your own grammar gal podcast.
I can imagine that her audience is 50% students trying to suck up to a high school English teacher and 50% students forced by a high school English teacher. Sarah, you would totally filet this woman, whose name is Mignon Fogarty.

Subscribe to my PUN A DAY podcast, soon to be the toast of CNN.
"Alright, well, for the sake of this conversation, let's say the book does not exist."

Sarah

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2007, 10:31:07 AM »
Jesus fucking Christ (as we grammarians often say), the possessive of "Thomas" is "Thomas's"! 

I despair. 

Jason

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2007, 12:50:07 PM »
Is it?
I'm sure Cromer Road Primary School taught me it was proper to drop the second S and a quick search seems to back that up although I am steeling myself for a stern upbraiding.

"Singular possessive
The possessive form of a singular noun is an apostrophe followed by the letter "s."

Kramer's hair
Daphne's patience
the car's engine

Words ending with s, z or x generally omit the "s."

Dr. Seuss' sense of humor"

http://www.meredith.edu/grammar/plural.htm#Possessive

Josh

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2007, 02:30:36 PM »
from The Elements of Style
Quote
Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's.
Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,
      Charles's friend
      Burns's poems
      the witch's malice

Exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names ending -es and -is, the possessive Jesus', and such forms as for conscience' sake, for righteousness' sake. But such forms as Moses' Laws, Isis' temple are commonly replaced by
      the laws of Moses
      the temple of Isis
"Alright, well, for the sake of this conversation, let's say the book does not exist."

moonshake

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2007, 04:41:04 PM »
I think this clarifies it further. It all comes down to whether your a journalist or not.

5.26 Possessives of titles and names

The possessive of a title or name is formed by adding ’s {Lloyd’s of London’s records} {National Geographic Society’s headquarters} {Dun & Bradstreet’s rating}. This is so even when the word ends in a sibilant {Dickens’s novels} {Dow Jones’s money report}, unless the word itself is formed from a plural {General Motors’ current production rate} {Applied Materials’ financial statements}. But if a word ends in a sibilant, it is acceptable (especially in journalism) to use a final apostrophe without the additional s {Bill Gates’ testimony}.

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/ch05/ch05_sec026.html
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Sarah

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2007, 10:01:35 AM »
I'm a Chicago gal all the way.  But, yes, it is more ambiguous than I had claimed, though I don't respect the alternatives, and they make me cringe. 

Eric

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2007, 01:54:29 AM »
Do you put a comma before "and" in a list or not (ex: lions, tigers, and bears OR lions, tigers and bears)? Once and for all.

Sarah

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2007, 11:13:59 AM »
Sadly, there is no hard-and-fast answer to this one, either.  That said, however, in the US, serial commas (i.e., lions, tigers, and bears) are favored, whereas the Brits tend to leave them out.  As far me, since omitting the serial comma can cause confusion, even if Chicago didn't favor them, I would.

For my next trick, if you like, I could explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses (the thorny "that vs. which" debate).

And, in conclusion, a little nicety that has always pleased me:  "a lantern is hung from a tree," but "Saddam Hussein was hanged."  (Apologies for the passive voice, of course.)

Thank you, thank you very much.

Emily

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2007, 04:31:43 PM »
"For my next trick, if you like, I could explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses (the thorny "that vs. which" debate)."

Please do! I need to know why Word always underlines "which" in grammar check tells me to replace it with "that". I prefer to use 'which' over 'that', but usually end up changing it.

Thanks!

Sarah

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Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2007, 10:06:22 AM »
Okay, let's see if I can explain this.  A restrictive clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence and is neither preceded nor followed by a comma; a nonrestrictive clause can be omitted from a sentence without fundamentally changing the meaning of the sentence and is both preceded and followed by a comma (unless of course it ends the sentence).  Sticklers such as myself never use "which" restrictively.  Consider the different flavors of the following:  (1) "The Best Show podcast, which bookem_dan-o prepares, celebrated its first anniversary last week." (2) "The Best Show podcast that bookem_dan-o prepares is vastly superior to the one I put together, which does not exist."  The thing to remember is that if a clause can be dropped without losing the information the sentence is meant to communicate, it is nonrestrictive, surrounded by commas, and introduced by "which."  If the clause is vital to the meaning of the sentence, use "that" and no commas. 

When you're the writer, you know what's restrictive and what isn't.  When you're editing someone else's work, things can get tricky.  For example, in "The Best Show podcast, which bookem_dan-o prepares, celebrated its first anniversary last week," the main message is that the podcast is a year old, and the fact that bookem_dan-o is responsible for it is secondary.  If the sentence read instead, "The Best Show podcast that bookem_dan-o prepares celebrated its first anniversary last week," it would mean that another Best Show podcast, one not prepared by bookem_dan-o did not celebrate its first anniversary.  If I came across ""The Best Show podcast which bookem_dan-o prepares celebrated its first anniversary last week," I would not be sure whether the second meaning was intended or the writer had simply omitted the all-important commas.

To complicate matters further, "which" may be used restrictively (this is more common in England).  Thus, when you use "which" instead of "that," emily, you're not really making a mistake; you're just not following a usage that many people prefer.  If I can tell that a writer is using "which" deliberately, as a matter of style, I will leave it or at least ask before changing it.  In straightforward writing, however, I will always insist on the "that"/"which" distinction, because doing so makes for less ambiguity.

More than you bargained for?