July 14, 2006

Defend yourself...

Against hypercorrecting grammarians. (Via Boing Boing.)


P. Froward said...
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P. Froward said...

And these people think their permission to always write ungrammatically is something I should care about?

Maxine Weiss said...

1. A woman without her man is nothing.

2. A woman without; her man is nothing.

3. A woman; without her, man is nothing.

Peace, Maxine

chuck b. said...

Okay, but how do you pronounce foyer?
I have one and I need to know.

Maxine Weiss said...

Same sentence, yet look how bad punctuation confuses/changes the meaning:

1. Jen; Jen's friend, Bill; Bill's sister, Meg; Meg's mom, Trish.

(Four People)

2. Jen, Jen's friend, Bill, Bill's sister, Meg, Meg's mom, Trish.

(Seven People)

3. Jen, Jen's friend Bill, Bill's sister, Meg, Meg's mom Trish.

(Five people)

Yikes, just how many people are in this party?

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

1. Sensuous vs Sensual

2. Ten or fewer items vs Ten or less

3. Continual vs Continuous

4. "Got" vs "Have". Never say 'got', when you can say 'have'.

And remember:

Never say "was because...
-or- "is because...."

The reason "is that...." or, "the reason was that....."

Nothing worse than someone who says ..."was because"

---The worst violation, IMHO.

Peace, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...


When you go to the beach
And leave through the foyer
Remember to reach
For your cute little cur

SteveR said...

Colloquialisms are for barmpots

SippicanCottage said...
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Buddy Larsen said...

Us scandinavians use it as "Wanna trade foyer herring?"

Jennifer said...
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Jennifer said...

Is it really? Damn, and I've been saying foy-yay. How embarassing. Like those faux snotty Ralph Low-REN types.

Bissage said...


Ann Althouse said...

Quoting from Elster's "Big Book of Beastly Pronunciations": "This word came into English from French in 1859. The French pronunciation, still listed by some authorities is fwah-YAY and FWAH-yay, with first syllable stress, is occasionally heard in Britain.... In American speech, these Frenchified pronunciations are extremely rarey. The half-anglicized pronunciation FOY-ay... still has many adherents, some of whom mistakenly believe that the fully anglicized pronunciation FOY-ur ... is wrong.

"FOY-ur has been heard in educated American speech for at least a hundred years... [Various authorities establish that since 1949 FOY-ur] has been the dominant American pronunciation.... [T]he NBC Handbook prefer[s] FOY-ur, and all four American dictionaries list it first.

"Anglicization... is natural and necessary. Moreover, it is inevitable if the word is to remain in the language.... [T]he Frenchified pronunciations... are no longer intelligible to American speakers. The half-anglicized FOY-ay is intelligible, but many civilized speakers now find it affected or old-fashioned."

Ditto lingerie
By the way

the pooka said...

Actually, the list of errors is even more useful, albeit not while blogging. (My personal pet peeve is this one; it's plural, g-ddammit).

Kev said...

I'm glad to see that the list approves of pronouncing the word forte (in terms of "that's not my forte") the same way that it's pronounced in music (for-tay). That allows for a funny little joke among me and some of my fellow musicians: If someone's really bad at something, we can say "not only is that not his forte, it's pretty much his pianissimo." ;-)

And re the data/datum cited by pooka--there are lots of other words that we use that are really plural and are misused the same way in the singular case; the most-abused one that I can think of (which, yes, sounds better than "of which I can think") is criteria, which is of course the plural of criterion, despite what you might hear lots of people say. ("one criteria of this job is....")

Other words with lesser-known singular forms are tympani (tympanum), graffiti (graffito) and broccoli (broccolo). When I was a morning radio DJ in college, I posed the question to my audience as to what exactly constititueed one broccolo--the whole "tree" or one individual "branch." I never got any callers on that one, quite possibly because my mostly college audience was still asleep/late to class, etc.

Kev said...

Oops, that would be "constituted" in that last paragraph...though "constititueed" does sound at least somewhat French...

Jennifer said...

Lingerie and forte are both words that I can't bring myself to pronounce "correctly". I'm perfectly happy with the commonly accepted anglicized versions.

Lingerie - because how pretentious would that sound?

Forte - because how often would this happen:

"Confusing people is my fort."
"Your what?"
"See what I mean?"

P. Froward said...

John Derbyshire says "data" is a mass noun, like "water" or "sand". And frankly, it's a lost cause. So I've limited myself to growling ominously and baring my teeth at people who use it (don't tell me they don't know what I'm growling about; they know). And "indexes" instead of "indices". I can accept that, more or less, though I do love turning an 'x' into a 'c'.

But I still shoot people who say "a phenomena". Right between the eyes. There, I draw the line.

Albatross said...

I'm not so much a stickler on alternate pronunciations as I am on punctuation, as demonstrated nicely by Maxine's posts. But the whole "forte" mispronunciation thing still bugs me from time to time. But then I have a claret, and everything's fine.

Oh, wait. Is that "klare-ETTE" or "klar-AY"? Dang!

chuck b. said...

There is nothing about my foyer that could be described as a hallway. It's not hallway-like in any way. I could call it a vestibule perhaps, but that would be really over the top.

All I know is that I've been called a weenie for pronouncing it "foi-yay" and an imbecile (in my own home! by someone who is not my lover!) for pronouncing it "foi-yer". So now I say, "foi-yay-slash-foi-yer-take-your-pick" and interrupt people with a firm "NO!" as soon as they try to say something about it.

And I had to look up the correct spelling of imbecile just now.

SippicanCottage said...
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