Can’t find a copy of O&A? No problem. Below is this month’s column.
Just took an online grammar test (Aced it!), which, after each answer, listed the percentage of test-takers who missed that question. It seems the most troublesome poser was the one about the distinction between e.g. and i.e. We’ve covered this several times, most recently in September when we cited the scene in Get Shorty that addressed the problem. Here are the definitions: e.g. — for example; i.e. – that is
The most common mix-up seems to be using i.e. to mean “for example” (although I’ve also seen the opposite mistake). Please note the distinction.
That grammar test also included a question about the difference between affect and effect. As mentioned many times here, affect is a verb (except for one unimportant instance where it’s a noun) and effect is almost always a noun. The test results, and empirical evidence, indicate that people still have trouble with the difference. Some recent examples:
Sportswriter Matt Gelb, in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Monday’s decision had no affect whatsoever on those negotiations.”
And Living Well, a local periodical, contained an editorial with this sentence: “We always keep in mind that this time of year can have quite the opposite affect on those who suffer depression.”
Ah, Those Sportscasters (continued)
Last month we listed a couple of flubs by sportscasters. Given the tendency for those in that business to mangle the language, we’re suspecting this may become a semi-regular feature. Herewith, a couple of recent gaffes:
· Dan Patrick, on his eponymous radio show, called Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice “the penultimate” at his position. Rice is generally regarded as the best receiver and perhaps the best player ever. So obviously, Patrick, like many people, thinks the word means the very best, or something akin to that. As pointed out here previously, penultimate means “next to last.” Perhaps a recent New Yorker cartoon will help. The drawing shows a sign on a fence outside an athletic field. The sign reads:
Ultimate Frisbee, 3:30 p.m.
Penultimate Frisbee, 1 p.m.
· We’re going to double down on Patrick because the next day he used “inferred” to mean “implied.” We know that’s wrong, right, guys? Imply means to suggest. Infer means to deduce, conclude or surmise.
· Kudos to Don Imus. Say what you will about the old curmudgeon, whose Imus in the Morning radio show is simulcast each weekday morning on the Fox Business Network, he knows his grammar. Recently, his sportscaster, Warner Wolf, commented that one college quarterback had “less interceptions” than another. “Fewer,” Imus blurted. Good on you, I-Man. More people need to add “fewer” to their vocabulary.
Hard to Believe, Harry
(Wherein we invoke the spirit of late Phillies announcer Richie Ashburn, who used to make that comment to his broadcasting partner, Harry Kalas, when something unbelievable occurred on the baseball field.) Some hard-to-believes from the local media:
· A letter to the News Journal about jobs contained this: “… [M]y members suffered undo hardships….” The word is “undue.”
· In the NJ real estate section, directions to a home in North Wilmington/Arden included this: “95 to N on Marsh Rd passedSilverside Rd… .” That would be “past.”
· Then there was this from the Newark Post: “Although she thinks the power plant is efficient for its large size, she said that single factor cannot out way the noise, air and sound pollution the facility will produce.” Out way? Really? The word is “outweigh.” Also, is there a difference between noise and air pollution?
Words of the Month
Pronounced fal-STAF-ee-uhn), it’s an adjective meaning fat, jolly, and convivial — after Sir John Falstaff, a character in Shakespeare’s Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Pronounced in-tuhr-LOK-yuh-tuhr, it’s a noun meaning one who takes part in a conversation or dialogue, especially as a representative of an organization.
Seen a good (or bad) one lately? Send candidates to email@example.com.
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