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Pedants
September 29, 2007 5:10 PM   Subscribe

Pedants; or, you're doing it wrong.

Illustrated.
posted by frobozz (77 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 

Illustrated.


My God. I think I just fell in love with a total fiction.

*adds "proof-marks bad graffiti" to The List*

*looks at List, winces at the length of it and the sudden realization of permanent singledom*
posted by loquacious at 5:23 PM on September 29, 2007 [5 favorites]


Must... resist... urge... to rant... about... every word is a link posts!
posted by Kattullus at 5:27 PM on September 29, 2007


The International League of Pedants
posted by pupdog at 5:28 PM on September 29, 2007


I would rant about these pedants, but I suspect languagehat will do a much better job of it than I could. At least, I hope he will.
posted by Richard Daly at 5:30 PM on September 29, 2007


awsome.
posted by OrangeDrink at 5:36 PM on September 29, 2007


One man's pedant is another man's freedom fighter.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:38 PM on September 29, 2007


For all intensive purposes, its a tough road to hoe but you got to give it free reign.

"pendant's"?

GrammarFilter rocks. Adding to the fun pedantry with baited breath, The Eggcorn Database.
posted by nickyskye at 5:38 PM on September 29, 2007


For all intensive purposes, its a tough road to hoe but you got to give it free reign.

It's a doggie-dog world, nicky: first come, first serve.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:42 PM on September 29, 2007


Those quotation mark ones were pretty funny.
posted by cmyr at 5:44 PM on September 29, 2007


Sweet rantblogs. I can get behind at least the mindset of some of them (like the one about quotations) but holy hell, I just want to shake the guys who don't realize that people who own a marquis will do anything to avoid having to buy new letters, even (gasp) turning an exclamation point upside down when all their I's are broken.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:50 PM on September 29, 2007


doggie-dog

Cute. Supposably things like that are a blessing in the skies. You might take it for granite. But don't make an affidavid out of it.

oops.
posted by nickyskye at 5:50 PM on September 29, 2007


From the "you're" link:

None means "no one" – a singular word. Therefore, NONE IS – not NONE ARE!

Another numbskull who thinks logic should determine grammar. One post, and the guy's already flunking.

The sign ones are great (I had no idea so many people used lower-case l's in all-cap signs). And the "Illustrated" is terrific.
posted by languagehat at 5:50 PM on September 29, 2007


Upper case L.
posted by Tube at 5:55 PM on September 29, 2007


This gave me happy tingles.

Once I saw a table of pies at the supermarket marked "Lemon Merengue."
posted by desjardins at 5:57 PM on September 29, 2007


Whoaaa in the naame of love. Misspellings bring drivers to a halt.
posted by nickyskye at 5:58 PM on September 29, 2007


If only frobozz had spelled "your" correctly.... And I absolutely love the idea of an International League of Pedants. We could have a secret sign and everything. I bet it would look like this:
_____/|/|
O \|\|
posted by spacewrench at 6:03 PM on September 29, 2007


I swear it looked good on preview!
posted by spacewrench at 6:03 PM on September 29, 2007


Oh, let me try!
unnecessary editing[*]

Alan Zoppa points me to this Letter to the Editor, which he himself wrote, but to[**] which the editor added quotation marks to. Evidently, they do not he[she? this editor?] does not believe that "co-religionists"[***] is a word. I plan to go to church with my co-religionists this Sunday.
* Probably intentional.
** I can has prosodic preposition placement?
*** Co-religionists are fellow believers. "Co-religionists" is a plural noun. OK, I'm done.
posted by topynate at 6:04 PM on September 29, 2007


oops.
posted by nickyskye at 5:50 PM on September 29 [+] [!]


Maybe it's like a PSA where there's a dog crossing his arms cockily - "it's a secret! Sh, school is cool!"

And maybe all the sign makers just love Jamiroquai.
posted by OrangeDrink at 6:05 PM on September 29, 2007


The grammar stuff is needless bullshit, but I think we all know that.

The lowercase L blog, however, is hilarious. And the quotation marks.

"EXCEllENT" POST!
posted by blacklite at 6:05 PM on September 29, 2007


I love the "Illustrated" photo. I think this could have been a single link to a photo FPP and I would have been happy with the other fluff as [more inside].
posted by Eekacat at 6:21 PM on September 29, 2007


Wow.

People named Romanes, they go the house?
posted by wtdoor at 6:32 PM on September 29, 2007


And I absolutely love the idea of an International League of Pedants. We could have a secret sign and everything.

Like This?

posted by pupdog at 6:40 PM on September 29, 2007


doggie-dog
Cute. Supposably things like that are a blessing in the skies. You might take it for granite. But don't make an affidavid out of it.


Reminds me of my favorite phrase ever, as spoken by an interviewee in some A&E "documentary" about the real-life Amityville killer guy -- a neighbor, trying to sum things up, said, "It's a bag of worms, no matter how you slice it."
posted by mothershock at 6:43 PM on September 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


You know whose name contains a lowercase L?
posted by Poolio at 6:45 PM on September 29, 2007


Who'se?
posted by spacewrench at 6:53 PM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know whose name contains a lowercase L?

Shut up, you.
posted by loquacious at 6:54 PM on September 29, 2007


languagehat: I thought that the singularity of none was reasonable and standard. Not everything's a rule, but some rationality makes a syntax a lot easier.

I also think that it's cool to remember that there's only one {}. It harkens back to the days of constructing numbers out of {}'s.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:58 PM on September 29, 2007


I, too, was hoping for an LH rant. I don't even really get the lowercase “L” hate. It's not as if there's a Standard American English Typography and Usage Guide. Or that the usage of upper-case and lower-case letters isn't fluid and constantly evolving—and, in any case, a relatively recent innovation.

Many people I've known are sensitive to the misuse of quotation marks. A lot of the misusages didn't even register with me because I just assumed that they were actually intending to quote someone, somewhere. Seriously. If I saw a sign that said “‘fresh’ pies”, I assumed that the sign writer was quoting the baker who said that morning (or every morning) “here's today's fresh pies!”. But I have been assured be these friends that people misuse quotation marks as if they were merely adding emphasis.

I'm not convinced. I suspect that some are doing just that, others are quoting or pseudo-quoting, and still others are intending scare-quotes.

“For all intensive purposes, its a tough road to hoe but you got to give it free reign.”

My mother is a queen of the mixed or confused metaphor. Oddly, when my sister was young she never exhibited this trait. But as she moved into her thirties, she's begun to mangle a few. A couple of expressions my mom has used which I can recall are I'm sticking my head out on a limb and, well, I can't remember the other. Something about bridges and rivers.

I suspect that some people, for whatever reason, are more aware of metaphors and similar as metaphors, while others just parse them as a unit, with meanings surmised from context, long ago.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:01 PM on September 29, 2007


people who own a marquis will do anything to avoid having to buy new letters

Oh no you didn't.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:05 PM on September 29, 2007


I'm often pedantic, and I'm generally sympathetic to pedantry. However, if there's one thing that I truly cannot stand, it's wannabe-pedants.

Consider the "you're" link. Regarding the following sentence:
Like so much else in the confusing, contentious Floyd Landis doping case, though, none of the answers are really that simple.
it claims that:
"As with" is actually the proper way to begin the second sentence. "Like" implies an upcoming simile, which, let's face it, never occurred.
"Like" only necessarily implies an upcoming simile in the fevered brains of incorrect wannabe-pedants. As the OED states:
In mod. use (with following dat.) often = ‘such as’, introducing a particular example of a class respecting which something is predicated.
And it gives the following example:
A birth like that of Keats presents to the ordinary mind a striking instance of nature's inscrutability.
posted by Flunkie at 7:13 PM on September 29, 2007


“However, if there's one thing that I truly cannot stand, it's wannabe-pedants.”

Absolutely. And the thing is, you really can't win this game...as we already have seen in the comments here, both in regard to the links and other comments. Being hyper-sensitive to other peoples' mistakes indicates (to me) a limited amount of self-reflection because while we are snidely criticizing someone else's error, there either is or possibly could be someone likewise snidely criticizing our own. The effort involved to avoid hypocrisy while still being that snide pedant would be huge and, frankly, an enormous waste of one's energy and talent.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:22 PM on September 29, 2007


There's some other, equally interesting commercial photography on the site that the "illustrated" link points to. Nothing to do with grammar pedantry, though.
posted by churl at 7:26 PM on September 29, 2007


I get the lowercase L hate (it's confusing and annoying and I don't understand why anyone would do it), but I don't get the lowercase I hate.

(I love this post.)
posted by Reggie Digest at 7:29 PM on September 29, 2007


There have been two great typos in my life. One was on a birthday cake for my friend Sarah, and the other was on a trophy I won in high school debate.
posted by danb at 7:32 PM on September 29, 2007


languagehat: I thought that the singularity of none was reasonable and standard. Not everything's a rule, but some rationality makes a syntax a lot easier.

Hmm. This sounds weird to me: "I invited every person on the list, but none is coming."
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:37 PM on September 29, 2007


Mr. President: That's why any copy editor would tell you to use "no one" or "not one" or "nobody" instead.
posted by Reggie Digest at 7:44 PM on September 29, 2007


"My mother is a queen of the mixed or confused metaphor"

I have a friend who has kept me in stitches for years with his malaprops, misquotes and mixed metaphors. Last month I was telling him about some drama in my life, and he looked me in the eye and said, "haven't you ever heard that you should let dead dogs lie?"
posted by vronsky at 7:47 PM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I put mistakes in everything I write on purpose, sort of a trademark. I like to think of my errors as a fun little game. Like finding Nina in a Hirschfeld. Their it is!
posted by Toekneesan at 7:50 PM on September 29, 2007


languagehat: I thought that the singularity of none was reasonable and standard. Not everything's a rule, but some rationality makes a syntax a lot easier.
There are people, like the wannabe-pedant author of the link, who claim that it must be singular. But most reasonable people understand that it can be either.

The guy's logic is ridiculous. In regards to:
none of the answers are really that simple
He lets loose with:
None means "no one" – a singular word. Therefore, NONE IS – not NONE ARE!
The same "logic" can be used to support the exact opposite conclusion, by noting that "none" means "zero". When's the last time you heard "zero of the answers is blah blah blah"?
posted by Flunkie at 8:04 PM on September 29, 2007


After poking around a bit, it really looks like "none...are" has a long, respectable history.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:10 PM on September 29, 2007


Nice post. I've just sent this to my beloved cunt.
posted by dhammond at 8:32 PM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is exactly why I don't have sex with bloggers. Because they would criticize my technique on their damn persnickety blogs.

Also, they have always turned me down.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:37 PM on September 29, 2007


From the third link, about the jury, what bugs me the most is the notion that the verdict "said" anything. What? I may be just your average high-school graduate, but it occurs to me that the verdict may have "read" guilty, or the jury foreman, or the bailiff or the judge (whoever reads the verdict aloud) may have "said" guilty, but I don't believe that verdicts can speak.

But it's a mute point, anyway.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:52 PM on September 29, 2007


This is exactly why I don't have sex with bloggers. Because they would criticize my technique on their damn persnickety blogs.

My friend did this for a while. It was hilarious.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:53 PM on September 29, 2007


Hungry at the gas station.
posted by gum at 8:54 PM on September 29, 2007


Devils Rancher:
From the third link, about the jury, what bugs me the most is the notion that the verdict "said" anything. What? I may be just your average high-school graduate, but it occurs to me that the verdict may have "read" guilty, or the jury foreman, or the bailiff or the judge (whoever reads the verdict aloud) may have "said" guilty, but I don't believe that verdicts can speak.
Oxford English Dictionary:
With an inanimate item as subject: to communicate or represent; esp. of a clock, calendar, etc., to show (a certain time or date); of a notice, to state (a certain message).
Example:
On the door..Clarissa found a notice saying, ‘Welfare Officer. Knock and enter.’
posted by Flunkie at 9:03 PM on September 29, 2007


My all-time career best typo was on the registration card for a software product.

What it was supposed to say was "Size of hard disk."
posted by ottereroticist at 9:05 PM on September 29, 2007


I have a flyer from a local Chinese restaurant that says in tiny type at the bottom of the page:

We accept cash, Visa, Master Card, and Chicken

...and I wondered, is that a translation error, a typesetting error, or a strikingly original business plan?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:24 PM on September 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


I really ought to take a picture of the carpet in a New York-style deli here that proudly proclaims it to be the "Time Squre Deli Mart".
posted by wanderingmind at 9:35 PM on September 29, 2007


Every night I get down on my knees and thank God that these people are writing blogs and not talking to me.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:45 PM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some people take language pedantry too seriously. It's more like the fashion police than the actual police.

The fashion police are saying that your brown socks don't go with your black shoes, your horizontally striped shirt looks like shit with your vertically striped tie, and your red sombrero looks a might foolish with your business suit. There may also be a certain amount of snickering behind your back, of course, but don't cry. If that's your look, go with it.

Likewise, ignore the language police if you have your own daring notions about how to stick words together, you crazy postgrammarian kids.
posted by pracowity at 11:00 PM on September 29, 2007


Back before all this newfangled blog business, bad signage was one of Leader Kibo's favorite topics.

Also, bad punctuation has received the attention of some webcomics.
posted by the number 17 at 12:05 AM on September 30, 2007


why do newspapers leave out the "l" in "public" so often?
posted by bruce at 12:10 AM on September 30, 2007


I like how, in the very first link, second sentence on that page, "fluorescent" is misspelled as "florescent" (I'm assuming the poster in question is not "bursting into flower; blossoming", as that would be the meaning of the second word).
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:49 AM on September 30, 2007


um. pracowity... that 's a mite foolish. but i do think a red sombrero with a business suit would be fabulous.
posted by lapolla at 2:25 AM on September 30, 2007


Yes, thanks. I saw that just before I posted it, laughed, said "yikes!" to myself, started to fix it, and then posted it anyway in the spirit of the thing. That's where a lot of mistakes come from, of course -- homonyms popping out as you type and no spell-checker to the rescue. But thanks again four you're tip.
posted by pracowity at 2:46 AM on September 30, 2007


I take narcotics for my chronic and pretty bad pain. Three generic equivalents of Tylenol 4s a day. And more when I'm hurting especially bad.

Anyway, the chief effect this has on my writing is homonym misspellings. Not other typos; and (it seems to me, anyway) I'm otherwise pretty much as lucid as always. I could be wrong about that.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:17 AM on September 30, 2007


I don't get the lowercase I hate.
Because.

You'd better tow the line and hone in on your goal, or you'll never get your ducks up to speed.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:19 AM on September 30, 2007


It's kind of sad to devote this much time to pointing and laughing at other people.
posted by oddman at 5:52 AM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's more than kind of sad.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:06 AM on September 30, 2007


Absolutely. And the thing is, you really can't win this game...as we already have seen in the comments here, both in regard to the links and other comments. Being hyper-sensitive to other peoples' mistakes indicates (to me) a limited amount of self-reflection because while we are snidely criticizing someone else's error, there either is or possibly could be someone likewise snidely criticizing our own. The effort involved to avoid hypocrisy while still being that snide pedant would be huge and, frankly, an enormous waste of one's energy and talent.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Yeah, it's important to learn to mellow out about that stuff & not be snide. But it's not always about someone trying to be superior. At all. It's about struggling with your own perfectionism, and sometimes that's just really ingrained in you. It's got nothing to do with anyone else, it's you. For example, my mom was an english teacher who literally sent me to my room for bad grammar, and for a career I've spent years as a typesetter/designer & writer. So when I see typ-os, or bad punctuation, or worse yet BAD KERNING BETWEEN LETTERS... gaaaah! It hits the very core of my being and sometimes it's a struggle to ignore. It just SCREAMS at me. Because in my job, it's supposed to. If I do stuff with any of those things, and it gets printed, I'm in huge trouble and possibly won't be hired again, so my eye goes right to it. I've saved clients a lot of reprint money by catching those mistakes.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with wanting to laugh at anyone. I don't. It's just that something looks wrong and it goes against everything I've been trained to know. And sometimes it's hard to shut off that retentiveness when I'm off the clock.

My friends tease me about it all the time. We'll be in a restaurant or somewhere and they'll see me just squirming. They'll say, "Okay, what is it this time?" and I'll say, "Nothing." They'll say, "Go ahead." And I'll say, "Okay... the letterspacing between the w and the a there is giant and the rest of it is way too tight and why did they use a lowercase a? That makes no sense. And the word "plate" has an E on the the end of it. I'm trying not to look at it, but IT IS KILLING ME." It's always stuff they never noticed but they'll kindly let me get it out of my system, and laugh at me. Usually I will mellow out, but when I was younger sometimes we would even switch chairs so that I can have a more relaxing and enjoyable view.

Trust me, I wish that stuff didn't scream out at me. I know in the scheme of things it doesn't really matter. Perfectionism is a powerful force to battle against sometimes.

P.S. -- And FWIW, don't think that every time I type something fast on here and then see a typ-o after I hit "post" that it isn't like a giant dagger into my chest. I always catch it a second later and it kills me. I have to chant to myself that it doesn't matter as long as people understood what I was trying to say, but it only eases my pain slightly.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:43 AM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's kind of sad to devote this much time to pointing and laughing at other people.

I'm pretty sure that's the whole point of teh intarwebs. That, and porn.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:51 AM on September 30, 2007


I've always considered "pedantic" as more of a "virtues of a warp drive versus a hyperdrive" sort of thing, not just correcting something someone should have learned in fourth grade.
posted by wigu at 7:17 AM on September 30, 2007


rationality makes a syntax a lot easier

No, actually just using the language as comes naturally to you (you, the speaker of the language and thus determiner of its syntax) makes it a lot easier. Or perhaps you think everyone can agree about the "rationality" of language? See remarks above about "none."

I had a coworker once who, when I got tired of his rants about double negatives and other such "mistakes" and told him that the French used double negatives consistently (je ne sais pas), said "Then the French are wrong." That's always seemed to me the reductio ad stupidissimum of the "logical grammar" attitude.
posted by languagehat at 7:32 AM on September 30, 2007


None is? None is?

That just doesn't taste right.
posted by tehloki at 8:10 AM on September 30, 2007


Oxford is the home of pedants. I guess I'm comfortable there. (",)
I do wish I had taken a pic of the graffito on the wall outside my flat (this is in a predominantly white neighbourhood, though our street is more working clas than the others):

Original wording: Da Ghetto
Corrected: DaThe Ghetto.

Made me laugh every morning, especially as the little tosspot chavs who scrawled that and their equally ignorant mums probably wouldn't recognise a ghetto if they were besieged by guys in black shirts and boots singing the Horst-Wessel Song.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:13 AM on September 30, 2007


...on the other hand, spoken french tends to drop the 'ne,' so perhaps the French have realized the error of their ways ;)
posted by grubby at 9:27 AM on September 30, 2007


Capital I.

Don't read too much into it, just relax and let it flow over you.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:58 AM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


languagehat wrote: I had a coworker once who, when I got tired of his rants about double negatives and other such "mistakes" and told him that the French used double negatives consistently (je ne sais pas)...

That makes it correct in French. But when we're speaking English, it is indeed a mistake (no scare quotes needed).

Of course you're correct that this doesn't make French any less logical than English. But once a language establishes its own rules, that becomes what's "logical" within that specific language.

I haven't noticed any double negatives in any of your posts, languagehat, so you seem to agree (in practice, if not in theory).
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:44 PM on September 30, 2007


when we're speaking English, it is indeed a mistake (no scare quotes needed).

It might be a mistake for you if you said it, if it's not part of your dialect, but then why would you say it? It's not a mistake for those who use it as part of their dialect. Why is it so hard for people to get this? There is no magic rulebook for the English language. Like any other language, it's the property of the people who speak it natively, not of some Academy or Strunk & Fucking White or whatever.

When I'm writing formal prose, I don't use it. When I'm hanging out with friends at the bar, sometimes I do. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
posted by languagehat at 1:57 PM on September 30, 2007


God, you're being so gentle, languagehat. Can't you just tell Jaltcoh that almost all dialects of English, past and present, have at least a few double-negatives acting as intensifiers? And, in fact, such is fairly common in languages in general?

Maybe add a fuckwit in there somewhere?

To me, there's maybe four or five kinds of prescriptivism.

One is practical. We can call it Pragmatic Communicative Prescriptivism. For example, my argument that we should continue to try to distinguish between jealousy and envy because it's a useful distinction when you need it. We pretty much know what people mean they use the former for the latter casually, but if we're actually talking about the social mechanics of jealousy, the distinction becomes important. I mildly support Pragmatic Communicative Prescriptivism.

The second is Idealist Prescriptivism. This is what Jaltcoh's view seems to be, as if any given language is something like a) a mathematical formal system, and b) predefined by God. This is really silly and annoying because both are false.

The third is Class Prescriptivism. It's what you hate most. It's prescriptivism that is intended and enforced for the purposes of maintaining social stratification.

The fourth is Solipsistic Prescriptivism. It's pretty much nothing more than reaffirming that good old "I'm right and you're wrong" feeling.

The fifth is Pragmatic Social Prescriptivism. Without being Caste Prescriptivism, it allows that there are varying social contexts within which language use is modulated and this is useful. Accordingly, it will allow some prescriptivism as instruction in how to properly modulate one's use of language in varying social contexts. This really isn't language prescriptivism, it's etiquette and social faculty. Or maybe it's a kind of meta-linguistics. Hell, I don't know. Surely you guys have a name for this.

What happens with most people who are prone to prescriptivism, I think, is that they recognize the utility and validity of PSP while thinking of it as something more like a combination of PCP or IP while, subconsciously, also practicing a form of CP or SP. The latter two provide the uholy motivation for laughing at other people and telling them they are stupid, and the fomer two provide moral cover while doing so. The simple inescapable existence of PSP means that people generally don't have to be self-aware at all when they are being prescriptivist.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:59 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


What? You're on PCP?

:(
posted by blacklite at 7:28 PM on September 30, 2007


I don't have a PS3 :(
posted by desjardins at 8:49 PM on September 30, 2007


God do I need to pee.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:54 PM on September 30, 2007


This IP isn't in the RFC. :(
posted by mochi crunk at 8:51 AM on October 1, 2007


Miss Lynnster: "...but it only eases my pain slightly" should be "...but it eases my pain only slightly." :)
posted by thebrokedown at 9:44 AM on October 1, 2007


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