Another Mondegreen

You all know what mondegreens are, because I wrote about them before. Here, for example. Well, I ran into a new one, so here you are:

New to me, anyway. 

A Brand Name

I don’t refer to brand names much, but I can state a rule: Do it the way the owner of the brand wants. Take a look at this:

The Lego company says that “Lego” has no plural. If you want to refer to one of the pieces, call them “Lego blocks” or “Lego pieces.” But don’t call them “Legos.”

So—It’s a box of Lego, not a box of Legos.


This is Irony

And this expression is often criticized by people who don’t understand that it’s ironic.

Irony is when you say the exact opposite of what you mean. (Also when the exact opposite of an expectation happens.)

Probably a lot of folks who say “I could care less” are being imitative, not deliberately ironic, so perhaps the criticism for using the expression isn’t misplaced. 

I prefer not to be ironic, myself.

Maybe This isn’t a Mistake

But it’s a pattern I’ve seen over the years: The word “anymore” belongs in a negative statement. For example, we say,

Nobody does it this way anymore.

So when I see it in a positive construction, it raises a flag:

I think the gal on the left should have said, “Everyone is so angry nowadays, aren’t they?”

What do you think?

PS— “Any more,” two words, is a somewhat different construction that we use for tangible objects, not the passage of time. So we say, “Do we have any more dressing for that turkey?”

An Obsolete Rule

Since I’ve mentioned this problem before, I’m posting today mainly to show the comic.

English has a weakness in that it doesn’t have a singular personal pronoun that doesn’t show gender. All we have is he, she, and it, so people have been using the plural, they, for centuries (!) when they don’t want to (or can’t) show gender. That’s been long enough that it ought to be okay to use “they” for a non-gendered singular, but it’s just illogical enough that it doesn’t appeal to English teachers, so we have the  continuing issue.

Anyway, here’s the comic:

I’m guessing that the monster is a pop culture reference that I don’t get…

A Word to the Wise

I’ve mentioned in the past that ambiguity is bad except in poetry. (For more on this topic, put “ambiguity” in the search box in the upper right corner.) When you explain something, you want to be clear. I ran into someone pointing this out in a recent Delaware Mensa newsletter, DelaMensa:

I read the newspaper everyday. —Is that past tense or current tense? Did you read that as “I red” or “I reed”? Both are valid. Context is usually helpful, but what if the paragraph started with that?

He suggested a solution, too. Context. I’m a little wordier; I say rewrite the sentence.

Write your sentences so they aren’t ambiguous!

New Words

I haven’t run into an article about the Oxford English Dictionary’s new words for the year, so I’ll have to let a comic do the job.

So—do you know the meanings?

Time for a Non-Lesson

A friend (Hi, Brenda!) sent me this with the message, “for the rag.” So here it is:

Near as I can tell, it’s from Gocomics, The Daily Drawing.

The comments in Facebook talk a lot about diagramming sentences. When I was in high school, the last thing I heard a teacher say about diagramming was that research showed that its main benefit was that the kids who did it could draw straighter lines. Oh well. I still know how to do it…

And while I’m at it, here’s another one she sent. Good point about contractions:

Someone Else Who Believes in Correctness

One of my five gold rules of good writing is to be correct. I mention it a couple times. The gist is that you need to get your mechanics (grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax) correct; the other is that your facts have to be true. (I tell people that as a tech writer, I tell the truth for a living.) 

I just ran into an excellent essay on this subject. Here’s the incorrectness that triggered the essay:

Click the link under the picture. What he says is exactly my point about correctness. The sentence is not quite true. Some of you, no doubt, will be able to figure out that the inaccuracy is; it’s subtle. (And I’m not referring to the use of “which,” which should be “that.” —that’s an error in mechanics.)

So. Be sure you get your facts right. Tell the truth.

“And an Incorrect “Whom”

The last post featured a comic about politics. This comic appeared on the same page as one in the last post, and it’s also about politics, but I’m all about the grammar, and this time the guy gets it wrong:

It should be “Whom do you have?” But you probably know that by now. (“You” is the subject, the object should be “whom.”)

I wonder whether the solecism was part of the commentary. Oops. I don’t make political statements.