Category Archives: Schmenglish

Too much, maybe?

So I lost my mind a bit. OK, a lot. All right…completely.

J’ever experience something that just keeps eroding your sanity ever so slowly, like the effect of water against rock over a million-year time span? Eventually, all that’s left is bare naked nerve endings, and you break like a ginger snap. That kind of happened to me.

Maybe it’s the ongoing deranged senselessness of CCSS and HST in my life and in the lives of my students and colleagues that pushed me over the edge of the Cliff of Insanity; maybe it’s Dinner Theatre madness. Maybe it’s my ridiculous schedule which keeps me away from my grandchildren. I don’t know what happened, but a bell rang and school was out and teacher lost her poop. What was the trigger? you ask. What horrible tragedy befell you? Oh, this:

Every day, I get an email from Groupon, with fantastic deals. 1,000s of deals. It’s always bothered me, that mistake. For a long time, I did my best to just ignore it. After all, it’s an email, people. Seriously. Worry about important stuff. But remember the water-against-rock thing? Seems the moon went into the seventh house, and Jupiter aligned with Mars, and then big bang. I went to Groupon’s customer feedback page and wrote thusly:


Please, please, PLEASE fix the gargantuan grammar mistake in ALL of your emails! It makes you look like idiots!

It is NOT: “We’ve got 1,000s of deals every day.”

You either have “1,000 deals” or you have “THOUSANDS of deals.” You NEVER have “one thousands of deals,” which is what your current graphic says, and which, as you most certainly can see, makes no sense whatsoever.

Please fix this glaring error for those of your customers who value proper professional business copy.

L. Jackson


Now I ask you: Why the need for so many CAPITAL LETTERS? I actually HATE IT when people overuse that device, and I used it FIVE TIMES in one message. What’s wrong with me? I’m not a meanyhead, and I try to never make folks feel bad. Am I cracking up? And to make matters worse, I received this kind reply:


Hi Linda,

Thanks for sharing your feedback with us. I’ll be sure to pass your suggestion on to the right people.


Satheesh T
Groupon Customer Support


Oy. Rant like a loon, then read a courteous response. Way to crush an ant with a Panzer. Boot to the head.

On a brighter note: I have a wind chill day off school, so at least I can tackle the carload of work I brought home. Maybe I’ll see if I can escape for a bit to go out and visit the Js, too, and perhaps stop by and see Mavis, if she’s up to looking at my face.

OK, off to work. No more insanity from me today, I promise.

OK, one more time.

Fine. Tell me I’m a pretentious prig; I won’t care. Tell me I worry about unimportant things. I will block you — with a shillelagh. Or better yet…with the Grammar Hammer®. Heh.


Yesterday, someone posted this graphic on Facebook:

No, no, no. I don’t care if it *is* an Irish blessing. Bless the Irish lad who coined that phrase, but it’s wrong.

You can have less trouble, but troubles are individual things that can be counted. So while I may have less trouble in my life by not posting about fewer vs. less, I would have fewer troubles if people would just memorize the difference.

If you take away one of the three pears in my refrigerator, I would have fewer pears to eat — not less pears. I would have less fruit to eat, but fewer pears. You see, “fruit” is a mass noun, or something you really can’t count individually. Alternately, “pear” is a counting noun. You can pick ’em up and count ’em, one by one. Therefore:

Mass noun = use “less”
Counting noun = use “fewer”

One cannot have less pianos in the house. One can have less music, mind you. If there are fewer pianos (things you can count), there might be fewer songs (also things you can count), resulting in less music (mass noun; can’t be counted) — unless, of course, you are a pretentious prig of a different color, and you actually say idiotic words like “musics” and “musicking,” which will send me off into another deranged tirade for which I haven’t the time this morning.

Are we good? Good.

*straightening skirt*

Is it production week? Why yes, I believe it is. And here I am, already in need of a time-out and a nap. Cruel world! Cruel.


On about it again

It’s not their fault. It’s their parents’ fault. Our completely, irretrievably broken public education system is at fault, because teachers have to teach to this ridiculous battery of useless tests. It’s because of texting and Facebook and Twitter. It’s because no one cares.

Then there’s the make-me-want-to-run-somebody-through-with-an-awl statement, “It’s just words — what’s the big deal? Language evolves, and this isn’t your grandmother’s America, so get on with it.”

I know other English speaking cultures (Great Britain, Australia, Canada) misspell words. Just saw it this morning on an anti-American, Canadian-run site. (More on that another day.) Still, the US takes the cake on mangling its language, and it’s approaching — as I predicted two decades ago when I started teaching and witnessed it firsthand — the point of no return.

I agree.

Now I’m not talking about Americans mangling British English. I offer no apologies for my American accent, the sound of which honks off many Brits. And it’s not about picayune issues of retaining British English’s original sound and meaning, as Prince Charles would have it if he were king (which, given his mum’s robust health, isn’t bloody likely). And I’m not fool enough to think that languages don’t evolve. If they didn’t, we’d still be talking like Chaucer.

Rather, it’s the mangling of the most basic tenets of syntax; the rules I learned in fifth and sixth grade. As predicted, said disfigurement is now showing up in the professional workplace — where stuff like this matters. On Facebook last night, RtB fiend Stoney referenced an article in the WSJ that addressed this very issue, and I must tell you it makes me want to launch kittens.

To reiterate: I’m not saying that everyone should go around talking and writing like some Oxford English professor. I’m saying that proper usage and grammar have a place — and the future likelihood of our youth sounding like complete unintelligent donkeys depends heavily upon what’s done about it now. Unfortunately, it’s not looking too good for the home team.

I like to do the “Word of the Week” game in my choir rehearsals. (I’ve been basically terrible at it with regard to weekly consistency, but hey, I try.) Each time, I attempt to correct a common misconception about grammar or spelling, and invariably, someone mentions it in later conversations, which delights me to no end. For instance, a student has said to me, “I told someone in government class today that there’s no E in marshmallow, and she didn’t believe me. We had to get out the dictionary so I could prove it.”

And a good deed shines in a weary world.

So, fiends, please: it does matter that you know the difference between “your” and “you’re.” It does matter that you choose not to say, “Saturday is Brandon and I’s anniversary!” It does matter that you do not abuse apostrophes in your writing. Because we don’t want to look like unintelligent donkeys.

Again, as I have said in the past: I direct this rant at myself as well, for there are holes in my usage armor sometimes, too. Not often, but sometimes.  :mrgreen:


PS – Take the quiz at the Journal site. I loved it — well done!

*itchy itch*

Time to scratch it. Or to get out the Grammar Hammer®.  This has bugged me for a long time, and after having seen it on the umpteenth blog/Facebook post:

Yea – pronounced “yay.” As in, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” An affirmative vote (“yea” vs. “nay”).

Yeah – pronounced “y.” As in, “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.”  Slang for “yes,” and a variant of the above “yea.”

Yay – prounounced “yay.” Slang. As in, “Huzzah! The Indians are 14-8! Yay!

Thank you.