Here are the corrections and explanations for last week’s entries.
SENSE! WHAT SENSE?
Does either of the examples below make sense?
Explain what is out of whack in each and correct it by writing a correct version.
“The battle has killed some 30 people this month.”
Why is the word “some” used? Is it supposed to mean “about”?
I know people kill and soldiers kill, but how does a battle kill?
The whole sentence needs to be reworked.
“About 30 people were killed this month in the battle.”
“Nothing extreme about him.”
This is not a complete thought.
“There is nothing extreme about him.”
THE LYONS ROAR
This is directed to all the professional writers and TV and radio personalities who think I am on a crusade to embarrass or humiliate you with my constant highlighting of your mistakes in the use of the English language.
If I have upset you, good!
If you think I am arrogant and righteously critical, good!
If your writing egos are bruised, good!
If you think I am going to quit, give your heads a shake!
I am on a crusade and my motives are very simple.
You trained and professional writers and communicators are the language leaders of society; you have the daily platforms all of us hear or read and it is your responsibility to use your skills correctly in the columns and stories which you present.
You are the teachers and you teach by example. If your examples and stories are incorrect or poorly worded or sloppily proofed, you send a message to your readers and listeners that such slipshod efforts are acceptable.
I cannot stomach such cavalier carelessness.
If you really think about it, you will realize what Marshall McLuhan meant when he said: “The medium is the message.”
If the medium is incorrect, the message is incorrect.
If the medium is incorrect, I cannot understand the message.
If the medium is incorrect, the messenger needs to fix the problem.
If I am finding and hearing errors, I have an obligation to point out those errors in order to teach and correct them.
Of course, I would never think of plagiarizing anyone’s work, so I will continue to acknowledge you writers or speakers.
The gauntlet is thrown. The next step is yours, and if you really are in doubt and care, I will be glad to proof and edit for you. (The first one is free.)
MY ROAR JUSTIFICATION
Just in case you think I am being too harsh, note that every example of poor writing that I have cited this week has been contributed by a professional writer.
Find, identify and correct the errors in the following pieces.
“Joe Kocur, who co-authored The Bruise Brothers with Probert and myself, thinks that may have been the moment when Probert’s life took a wrong turn.
“Myself” is a reflexive pronoun and is misused in this context.
“Joe Kocur, who co-authored The Bruise Brothers with Probert and me, thinks that may have been the moment when Probert’s life took a wrong turn.
(“Which is now being attempted by Toronto.)
This is a subordinate clause because “which” is a subordinate conjunction; it cannot stand by itself without being changed.
(“This is now being attempted by Toronto.)
“First its ended lifetime benefits for city retirees, then there was the privatizing drive.”
“Its” is incorrect. Either “it” or “it has” could be used; the former would be best.
The comma in the middle is misused; there should be a stop, not a pause.
“First it ended lifetime benefits for city retirees; then there was the privatizing drive.”
“Great ideas but a tough political sell.”
This is not a complete thought.
“They are great ideas but a tough political sell.”
WHAT DANCE IS THIS?
Identify and fix the error in the following.
“I’m not an economist, but it doesn’t seem to jive.”
“Jive” is a form of dance. “Jibe“, meaning to agree or to coincide, is the correct word to use.
“I’m not an economist, but it doesn’t seem to jibe.”
A PET PEEVE
Common usage will disagree with me with this one, but compounding a mistake by constantly making it does not make it any less a mistake.
Explain and fix the error in the following entry.
“And will anybody in their right mind ever come here without a handout now?”
“Anybody” is singular. “Their” is plural. Using “Their”, when referring to “anybody”, is incorrect.
“And will anybody in his right mind ever come here without a handout now?”
Identify and correct the error in the following entry.
“If the liberals let them.”
This is an incomplete thought. It tries to answer the question in the paragraph preceding it but it is totally disconnected and has a subordinate conjunction, “if”, starting it.
“They will do it, if the liberals let them.”
Correct and explain the mistake in the following.
“Because that’s what the resignation of Chris Ryan, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, after only 15 months looks like.”
“Because” starts a subordinate clause, which cannot stand by itself, so this is an incomplete thought.
The comma is in the wrong place.
“That’s what the resignation of Chris Ryan, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island after only 15 months, looks like.”
SOME IDEAS SHOULD BE SELF-EVIDENT
“Our character…is an omen of our destiny, and the more integrity we have and keep, the simpler and nobler that destiny is likely to be.”
George Santayana, a Spanish-born, American philosopher who lived from 1863 to 1952, wrote this.
LAST WEEK’S WORDS
“Proliferation” (n.) refers to rapid growth due to multiplication of parts, procreation or reproduction.
“Proliferate” is the verb form.
“The proliferation of bad language use is very discouraging to those of us who attempt to use language correctly at all times.”
“Frumpish” (adj.) means dowdy, antique, old-fashioned, outmoded or out of style.
“The old man in the alley was unkempt and frumpish and in need of a hot shower.”
“Zephyr” (n.) refers to a breeze, air or gentle wind.
“A zephyr of wind touched her cheek and made her appear to blush.”
“Necromancy” (n.) refers magic in general or to the black arts such as enchantment or conjuration. It relates to the pretended art of divination.
The root of “necromancy” is “necr” or “necro”, word elements meaning dead, which are Greek in origin.
“Necromania” is a noun referring to a morbid attraction to dead bodies.
“Necrophilism” is a noun referring to the morbid attraction of corpses.
“Necrophobia” is a noun referring to the morbid fear of death.
“Necropsy” is a noun referring to the examination of a body after death.
“Many a psychopath portrayed on Criminal Minds has an obsession with necromancy.”
“Scatological” (adj.) means dealing pruriently with excrement or excretory functions, bawdy, off-colour, ribald, lusty or earthy.
“His scatological language was very offensive to the young woman.”
“Scatology” was a preoccupation with the sociopath who attacked and abused several people in the park.”