April 08, 2002
Writing skills: a lost art?

[Warning: Grammar Nazi at work]

Lately, I am becoming less and less tolerant of those who are utterly incapable of spelling and correctly using the English language. I am not referring to those who use English as a second language; I am talking about those who butcher their native (and in most cases, ONLY) language. Typos are one thing, but willful misuse of the language disturbs me.

Without naming names, here are a few examples I've seen recently:

...should of invaded... (Make that should have, or should've).

...two interlinked problems with discreet solutions (try discrete, unless you are talking about being subtle).

Lot's of people... (no apostrophe).

The often misused "it's" (too many examples to mention). Remember, the apostrophe replaces the "i" in "is". It's not a possessive, but a contraction.

Abuse of the word "media". The word is plural, as in "the media are liberal". One of the biggest names in new media (no names, please) forgets this, and uses "media" as a singular noun.

"Verbing"—taking nouns and turning them into verbs. The most recent example of this is "Enron" and its verb form—Enronized. "Lewinsky" is also an example, as is "Borking". The last at least has the virtue of succinctly describing a coordinated smear campaign. (I cannot take credit for the construct "Verbing"; I got the idea from Bill Watterson, of "Calvin and Hobbes" fame.)

Sorry if I have offended any of my readers, but I needed to vent on this topic.

posted on April 08, 2002 10:39 AM


Say on, Brother Scutum. I'm with you on all points you mentioned, and then some. I do try to write "clean" grammatically, even though sometimes my facts are askew (as you so kindly informed me, recently). Question - is it "new media" or "news media" that the forgetful big-name is in?

posted by susanna on April 8, 2002 07:37 PM

He is of the "new media" persuasion, but the first time I noticed his error was in an interview in a processed dead tree publication. (One that hardly qualified as "news media", FWIW).

posted by scutum on April 8, 2002 09:21 PM

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