Category: wording and grammar

Jul 17 2014

Word Crimes

Weird Al released a new album this week. It’s called Mandatory Fun, and you can buy it on his website, among other places. He’s been putting songs on YouTube to promote it, and this one’s the best of the bunch, no contest. “Weird Al” Yankovic – Word Crimes

In case you’ve somehow been fortunate enough to have never heard it, that’s a parody of a shitty song called Blurred Lines performed by a fellow named Robin Thicke, who’s most recent claim to fame is spectacularly shitty album sales.

Mar 21 2014

Heds Will Roll: Where All The Headlines That Should Be In The Newspapers Go

When Carin and I write news stories, we can pretty much call them whatever the hell we want. But sadly, our “real reporter” friends don’t enjoy that same degree of editorial freedom. So it’s nice to see that there exists a place where all of the clever/funny/that’s just wrong headlines I know for a fact they have in them can live on and be enjoyed. Heds Will Roll

It reads like a list of titles we’d totally use, which means we must be doing something right…right? Please tell us we’re doing *something* right.

It’s hard to pick a current favourite of the ones I’ve seen, but I’m somewhat partial to this one:

Eton Trifles
A tabloid item on Paul Weller, the former singer of The Jam, being photographed outside a pub after gaining some weight

In case you don’t get it, The Jam ~ Eton Rifles

Simple, yet effective and with just the slightest tinge of cruelty. Near perfect, I say.

Dec 08 2013

Can A Period Mean Somebody Is Mad At You? Yes, But That Has Nothing To Do With Text Messages

Do me a favour. Read this article all about how periods at the ends of sentences in text messages now mean that you’re angry at the person you’re writing to and see if it makes any sense to you, because I understand about 0 of it.

Honest to god, in a million years I would not have been able to think this up. Where did it come from? It just all feels so arbitrary. They seem to be using the argument that it’s all about people’s inability to detect the intended tone in writing, but if that’s the case, why does it only apply to texts? Using this logic, shouldn’t every email be an angry one? Is everything in the newspaper, no matter what it’s about, written by someone who is unhealthily upset? And what about books? Don’t even get me started on books. So many sentences, so many blood pressure related deaths just waiting to happen.

and what of all the other punctuation marks nobody is using anymore? If periods mean anger, what sort of evil is signified by the poor, forgotten apostrophe? Is my proper use of a comma actually saying “I’m going to come over to your house and blow a load in your eye?” It must be something like that, because surely we’d all be happy to write in complete sentences if periods weren’t meany marks.

I know I’m talking nonsense right now, but these guys started it. Of course periods mean finality, because the sentence is over. Feel free to start a new one, you know, as if you’re a human being with even the faintest grasp of how a conversation works. If you need clarification, ask for it.

And did it ever occur to any of these people that maybe all the shorthand and digital chicken scratch might be part of the problem? When all of your thoughts just sort of run together in a giant jumble of what the hell is that supposed to say, of course tone is going to be hard to pick out. This feels like one of those problems that phones with full keyboards should have solved by now.

It’s not innovation. It’s laziness. It’s partly convenience, but it’s laziness and an excuse for it when you get right down to it. If it were simply a necessary adjustment required to facilitate clearer SMS communication, a whole lot of the internet wouldn’t look anything like it does. End of story. Period.

Sep 26 2013

What Kind Of Name Is Decadent Chocolate Chip For A Cookie, Anyway

Speaking of Dave Nichol, Carin wondered this morning while we were talking about him why you would ever call a cookie decadent, since decadent means decaying. I said I was pretty sure that it also meant something like sinful or pleasing, but she wasn’t convinced. Well, I looked it up. There’s decay and moral decline in there as expected, but there’s also this:

:  characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence (decadent pleasures)

Who are you to doubt the President, Carin?

May 02 2013

This Wasn’t Even A Halfway Decent Idea

If I were in the position to make such a call, there’s almost no way I would have authorized this particular readiness drill.

A school district in Oregon is catching some flak after it recently sicced two masked gunmen loaded with blank on a meeting room full of teachers as part of a surprise “readiness drill” for an active shooter scenario.
The two men burst into the meeting room at Pine Eagle Charter School in Halfway last Friday and opened fire on the teachers within.
After several long moments, the terrorized teachers realized the shooting was staged since they weren’t, well, being shot to death.

Forget all the people in that room, though I’m sure they were scared shitless and thankfully none of them had a bad heart that was just waiting to give up the ghost. What I want to know is how they convinced two guys to act as the shooters. Here in Canada I might give some fleeting consideration to playing the part before telling you you’re out of your mind, but in the States? There’s no fucking way! Half the population is armed either legally or otherwise as it is, and depending on where you are your school district may soon be passing measures to ensure that all of the teachers are carrying guns. And to slap a big, steaming cherry on the dumbshit sundae that is this story, one of those districts just so happens to be this one. Nice going, guys.

On a side note, I love you Gawker, I really do. but Jesus H the typos! You’ve got a staff and your company is worth several million dollars. Pay somebody to look things over before they go public, would ya?

Apr 30 2013

Why Spam Comments Look So Ridiculous

A question I hear a lot is why does email and comment spam look the way it does? I’ll admit, I never had a perfect answer. Poor automatic translations is the best I’ve come up with, and while there’s certainly got to be some truth to that (Have you ever tried to use Google Translate to speak to somebody in his own language?), I know it’s not the only thing at work here.

But Mental Floss, as it often does, seems to have it figured out.

These days, in order to get through the filters, a comment should not only look plausible, but avoid repeating itself over a large swath of blog comment space.
One way to avoid repeating the same comment over and over without having to write thousands of different original comments is to replace the words in one comment with various synonyms. Recently, a spammer accidentally posted an entire spam template to Scott Hanselman’s blog, where you can see how this synonym substitution works. For example, one comment template reads:
I {want to|wish to|desire to} {read|learn} {more|even more}
{things|issues} {approximately|about} it!
“Approximately” and “about” are indeed synonyms (“He is {approximately | about} six feet tall”), but not in this context. This is why so many of these template-generated comments look so odd. As many freshman writing seminar instructors can attest, automatic thesaurus substitution is a dangerous thing.

the article goes on to give several examples of this in action, and it all makes perfect sense. But what still doesn’t is how it can be that an otherwise reasonable person can get something that looks like this in his inbox out of the blue from the Nigerian prince and part with hundreds of thousands of dollars without a second thought. Get on that one, Mental Floss.

Feb 15 2013

Sugar Land: A City So Safe, The Criminals Come To The Police

Every day, untold numbers of homes are broken into. Some of them, as we’ve seen time and again, are broken into by people for whom planning is clearly not a personal strength. But it’s not every day we see planning of such poor quality that it results in a couple of guys breaking into the home of the city’s Police Chief.

Conner Hinton and Taylor Nuttal may both be only 17, but that’s almost voting age. If they can’t make good decisions by now then…ok, you know what? I’m not going to continue down the almost voting age good decisions line. I’ve seen how a lot of people vote and pressing on would just make me sound like an idiot. See? Good planning.

The arrests occurred shortly after Sugar Land police responded to a residential alarm in the 2000 block of Holly Glade Lane on Feb. 8 at 11:45 a.m. A backdoor was forced open and several boards were missing from a portion of the fence that backs up to a greenbelt. Nothing inside the house was missing.
A neighbor alerted authorities when she witnessed two teens climb the fence to Brinkley’s yard. Police located Hinton and Nuttal in a vehicle shortly after the break-in.

“They just chose my house,” Chief Doug Brinkley said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “I wouldn’t want to see them end in prison for the rest of their lives, but unfortunable that’s where they’re heading with behavior like this.”

Unfortunable? Is that a word? I can’t find it. Maybe somebody should have brought a dictionary to his interview. Bad planning, perhaps.

Jan 13 2013

11 Real And Unfortunate Product Translations

Emails full of fake, funny product name translations go around all the time, but since these ones are from Mental Floss, I trust they’re the real deal.

Mmmm, Fart Bar!

And you’ll never think about pushing your Siri button the same way again, will you?

Credit where it’s due though, I do remember the tender chicken from some of the hoax messages. Blind squirrels, nuts and all that.

Jan 10 2013

A Lesson In Punctuation

This is clever.

A Lesson in punctuation

Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy–will you let me be yours?

Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy.
Will you let me be?

Dec 14 2011

>What A Dmubass

>I imagine there are quite a few vandals roaming around with a less than adequate grasp of spelling, but I’m not sure how many of them are as consistent or as easy to catch as Adam Hall.

Last month, somebody Vandalized Brittany Speckman’s car. Whoever it was bent the license plate, keyed it and scratched the word “sult” into the hood.

Sult? Just what the hell is a sult?

The answer to that question is where Hall enters the picture.

According to an affidavit filed in Bennington Superior Court, it didn’t take long for Speckman to finger her 34-year-old ex-boyfriend Adam Hall as the suspected vandal. As Speckman explained to a cop, “she did not think Hall could spell at all,” and she later discovered two text messages from him in which he called her a slut but spelled it “sult” each time.

Bennington police Sergeant David Dutcher reached out to Hall who denied vandalizing the car but in a subsequent interview with the investigator–after waiving Miranda–Hall was asked to “write out the sentence ‘you are a slut’,” and predictably Hall scratched out “you are a sult.”

Hall appeared in crout on Mnoday, and now faces up to 5 years in priosn if convicted of the felony mischief chrage he faces.

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