Bad Grammar January 26, 2005 2:28 AM   Subscribe

Just let me know when your in town

Because your playing in the playground of the internets

Dude your going WAY out of your way to insult me personally

So I think your going over the top here

Jonmc your joking, right?


only you can prevent "your" abuse. for fuck's sake, please. [mo' inside]
posted by Hat Maui to Etiquette/Policy at 2:28 AM (83 comments total)

this seems to be a sitewide grammatic albatross. i imagine there's a sizable percentage of members who cringe like i do at the sight of it. please, stop it. your hurting metafilter.
posted by Hat Maui at 2:34 AM on January 26, 2005


In other news
posted by johnny novak at 2:50 AM on January 26, 2005


lets just purt text-transform: lowercase in the css and get it over with. ;)
posted by dabitch at 3:00 AM on January 26, 2005


Ignoring the "you're" vs. "your" debate these lines above look like a bit of a ruck was going to start.

Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

I've got $5 on the check-shirt-wearing; hot-dog-eating New Yorker...
posted by longbaugh at 3:13 AM on January 26, 2005


Sweet Cthulhu helicopter-fucking Ba'al and Thor in the back of an Edsel!

LANGUAGEHAT! GET YOUR GUN!

I like proper grammar and punctuation. It makes things easier to read and parse.

Hat Maui, not a cool choice of examples. That was just simmering down. Clever username, though. Maybe.
posted by loquacious at 3:18 AM on January 26, 2005


Apart from the first and last example, your examples might actually be exhibiting "your" used correctly. It's impossible to tell without punctuation.

For example:

"Because your playing in the playground of the internets" might be culled from:

"Because your playing in the playground of the internets is personally distasteful for me".

That is to say, only you can prevent punctuation abuse. For fuck's sake, please.
posted by nthdegx at 3:42 AM on January 26, 2005


This is a ridiculous post.

Please tell me that there is more to your taking up space on MetaFilter than being peeved about an apostrophe (or lack thereof)? What exactly do you hope to accomplish? Out of the thousands of members a very few are going to even notice your heartfelt plea for good grammar and, of those, even fewer are going to care.

Hey, look over there, some guy used a comma improperly. Also, I sincerely hope that the irony inherent in your post formatting is intentional.

Feel free to correct my grammar at any time and I, in turn, will feel free to ignore you.
posted by cedar at 5:37 AM on January 26, 2005


Even the first could be taken from:

Just let me know when your in town friends and your out of town friends are able to meet.
posted by spaghetti at 5:40 AM on January 26, 2005


Though not very eloquently, if I may say so.
posted by spaghetti at 5:41 AM on January 26, 2005


I become inexplicably hungry whenever I see you're name, spaghetti.
posted by sciurus at 6:19 AM on January 26, 2005


Or perhaps it was supposed to be "Just let me know when urine town".
posted by smackfu at 6:28 AM on January 26, 2005


Yeah, grammar issues knock the piss out of me, but what are you going to do about it? Some people don't do grammar well. I shrug and get over it. I might even send the offender a little email about their repeat transgression and explain how apostrohes work, but I wouldn't put up a thread about it. Sheesh.
posted by ashbury at 6:37 AM on January 26, 2005


Hat Maui, you're complaining about proper use of contractions when you cannot bother to find the shift key?
posted by LarryC at 6:37 AM on January 26, 2005


Heh, that is funny.
posted by sebas at 6:40 AM on January 26, 2005


It's impossible to tell without punctuation.

To clarify, it's impossible to tell without punctuation indicating a complete sentence.

Just let me know when your in town friends and your out of town friends are able to meet.

When a short phrase like that is used as a modifier, acting as an adjective, it's standard to hyphenate the words in the phrase, as below:

your in-town friends and your out-of-town friends

And I heartily agree; Hat Maui, I hope it's irony.

Those nits being picked, I'm still glad that someone is pointing out this common error and giving the victims a chance to learn from and correct this mistake. It's one of the clearest signals of incomplete literacy.

It's simple to learn where you need to use the possessive form and where you need to use the contraction. Everyone schooled from childhood in English should have mastered this by third grade. Those who didn't learn it by third grade should have requested a brief tutorial in any one of the intervening years between then and the end of high school, and then drilled him or herself on it. It's easy enough to eradicate this red flag from your writing.
posted by Miko at 6:53 AM on January 26, 2005


I am much more annoyed by posters who are too lazy to use the shift key than by posters who are too lazy (I am hoping it is just laziness) to use "you're" correctly. The former slows you down and makes reading the post harder and since it is purposeful is more of an insult to the community. The latter just makes me laugh at the poster, if I even notice. Hat Maui, please come back and complain only after getting your own house in order.
posted by caddis at 6:55 AM on January 26, 2005


if this is call-out-worthy, then were in better shape than i might have thought.
posted by chicobangs at 7:16 AM on January 26, 2005


why didn't you use a capital at the start of your own username, caddis? it's a username. you are so stupid and insult everyone so much by doing that. boy, that really makes me mad. please don't post here again, you selfish idiot. if i spent more time on this i could probably find a way to make that lower case letter use up more of my time. you're such a waster. go away. thank-you.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:22 AM on January 26, 2005


Hat Maui - The ability to make you cringe just by dropping a random nit here and there entertains me greatly. People who want to protect the sanctity of spelling and punctuation on public Internet forums are very reliable source of mirth. Never give up the fight.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:33 AM on January 26, 2005



Where is "The Verb" when you need him?
posted by Hands of Manos at 7:41 AM on January 26, 2005


This can all be solved by using the horrible "yr."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:03 AM on January 26, 2005


Good call, spaghetti. In this case it's not the call-out I mind so much as the way it was made. Unless obviously a typo, I am greateful when people point out to me errors that I've made. I'm less grateful if they're c***ish about it.
posted by nthdegx at 8:07 AM on January 26, 2005


This is the crappiest post I've ever agreed with.
posted by mkultra at 8:11 AM on January 26, 2005


your hurting metafilter
Stop it. You're hurting MetaFilter.
posted by caddis at 8:18 AM on January 26, 2005


I'm pretty sure that was an intentional "error".

Bad grammar irks me, but I never pick people up on it, because it just isn't important enough, and doing so just irks other people.
posted by squealy at 8:25 AM on January 26, 2005


Hat Maui's write! Their needs to be something done!
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:27 AM on January 26, 2005


I might even send the offender a little email about their repeat transgression and explain how apostrohes work, but I wouldn't put up a thread about it.

Seriously. You would send an email?
posted by mlis at 8:40 AM on January 26, 2005


Let your and you're be dealt as they will. I honestly believe that's a teensy indicator of intelligence, which is always handy to have. The no-caps thing is equally annoying, but is more wilful affectation than mere ignorance.
posted by scarabic at 9:02 AM on January 26, 2005


Everyone schooled from childhood in English should have mastered this by third grade.

Indeed. This is what makes its prevalence so mindboggling. Very little could be more basic in the world of English grammar, and if you can't manage to get this right, you might as well pack up and move to another language.
posted by rushmc at 9:18 AM on January 26, 2005


Indeed. This is what makes its prevalence so mindboggling. Very little could be more basic in the world of English grammar, and if you can't manage to get this right, you might as well pack up and move to another language.

Use of contractions is usually a stylistic no-no in written English, is it not? If people would write out the full usage of "you are", then the problem would disappear. What are the time savings gained from removing two keypresses?
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:42 AM on January 26, 2005


The your/you're and its/it's mistake is indeed annoying, but if we're collectively improving our grammar I'd rather people stop using these phrases:

"I could care less" (The correct phrase is, "I couldn't care less.)

"I'm just sayin'" (What, exactly, are you "just sayin'"? Or are you too much of a wuss to declare it?)

My bad, and It's all good.

I call upon each and every MeFite to stop these grammatical terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:49 AM on January 26, 2005


I share a similar peeve. Something needs done about this!
posted by majick at 10:12 AM on January 26, 2005


its obvious. your a looser. their, ive said it. sew me.
posted by TimeFactor at 10:23 AM on January 26, 2005


Use of contractions is usually a stylistic no-no in written English, is it not? If people would write out the full usage of "you are", then the problem would disappear. What are the time savings gained from removing two keypresses?

This is the sort of ridiculous pedantry up with which I will not put.

The use of contractions is considered incorrect in a formal writing assignment, but certainly not here. The writing here is meant to be more conversational.
posted by anapestic at 10:24 AM on January 26, 2005


I'm joking around...
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:29 AM on January 26, 2005


Are we airing our general grammar peeves now? My biggest is probably when people say "Begs the question" instead of "Raises the question."
posted by stopgap at 10:30 AM on January 26, 2005


Ten yards and loss of down for improper use of an ellipsis.
posted by anapestic at 10:37 AM on January 26, 2005


Can someone tell me how to write good?
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:49 AM on January 26, 2005


G... o... o... d. No, no, you've got to write out the "g" the other way. That's a "q". No, now that's a "d". GIVE ME THE PENCIL YOU LITTLE MEATSACK. *stabstabstabstab*
posted by loquacious at 12:07 PM on January 26, 2005


It's a pretty simple error to make, especially since spellcheck won't pick it up. I'm sure most people that make the error realize they've done it (I've done it on occasion, mostly when I'm tired). I don't watch myself type, but I often find myself staring vacantly at the monitor, not really paying attention to the words; rather, I'm sort of composing my sentences in my head, so little slips won't be picked up.

Of course, if you look through my history, you'll undoubtedly find dozens of examples of me correcting myself, so obviously I care. Not enough to make an idiot of myself in metatalk, though.
posted by The God Complex at 12:17 PM on January 26, 2005


What are the time savings gained from removing two keypresses?

I dunno. How much did you save on that missing space? ;)

"I could care less" (The correct phrase is, "I couldn't care less.)

Not necessarily. When someone says "I could care less," they're being ironic, and mean the opposite of what they say. Compare the irony of "I could care less" with the irony of "I could not possibly care more" and you might start to hear it.

Granted, it's a little muddled, since half the people offer the literal "I couldn't care less," while half use the ironic inverse. But I think there's room not to be a snob about it.
posted by scarabic at 12:20 PM on January 26, 2005


please, stop it. your hurting metafilter.

The whole "please, stop it. your hurting x." mem isn't funny.

You are not Jon Stewart. You are not funny.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:22 PM on January 26, 2005


I've got an idea: before you can post a comment, someone else on the site has to proofread it. You also won't be able to post until you've proofread somebody else's post! That will solve all of our problems!
posted by zsazsa at 12:33 PM on January 26, 2005


Said scarabic When someone says "I could care less," they're being ironic, and mean the opposite of what they say.

I don't think so. I think it was a common mistake that has festered and grown like mold in a cheap motel's carpet, and now everyone thinks it's normal and they don't mind it. Well, I'm here to tell you it stinks, and no amount of after-the-fact air fresheners of irony will get rid of that stink, no sir! This moldy motel carpeting of a phrase needs to be replaced with the goodness of hardwood floor grammar!
posted by fandango_matt at 12:37 PM on January 26, 2005


Unless we all begin writing like Samuel Johnson immediately, MetaFilter is doomed, I tell you, doomed.

All joy or sorrow for the happiness or calamities of others is produced by an act of the imagination, that realizes the event however fictitious, or approximates it however remote, by placing us, for a time, in the condition of him whose fortunes we contemplate; so that we feel, while the deception lasts, whatever emotions would be excited by the same good or evil happening to ourselves.

Our passions are therefore more strongly moved, in proportion as we can more readily adopt the pains or pleasure proposed to our minds, by recognising them as once our own, or considering them as naturally incident to our state of life. It is not easy for the most artful writer to give us an interest in happiness or misery, which we think ourselves never likely to feel, and with which we have never yet been made acquainted. Histories of the downfall of kingdoms and revolutions of empires are read with great tranquillity; the imperial tragedy pleases common auditors only by its pomp of ornaments and grandeur of ideas; and the man whose faculties have been engrossed by business, and whose heart never fluttered but at the rise or fall of stocks, wonders how the attention can be seized or the affection agitated by a tale of love.

It would therefore behoove us who frequent this coffeehouse of the ether to think not only of the information we are desirous of imparting, but of the prejudice our imparting of it may produce in those who read our lucubrations, and avoid wherever possible those faults which may have a deleterious effect upon such audience as we may be fortunate enough to obtain, whether such faults may be of a grammatical or orthoepic nature or may consist of a fallacious attribution of importance to venial errors, so that the reader is more likely to feel sympathy on behalf of him who is taken to task than an indignation corresponding to that of the offended commenter.

In short: lighten up, everybody.
posted by languagehat at 12:38 PM on January 26, 2005


It's a pretty simple error to make, especially since spellcheck won't pick it up.

No, it isn't. How do you figure? How is that easy to make? I've been writing for decades and never done it once. Maybe some people just write the sounds in their heads rather than the meaning, but that would open them up to much greater mistakes than just "your/you're."

Languagehat, you need to get with the times. There are more current examples of good writing than Johnson! (At least you didn't use Shakespeare.)
posted by rushmc at 12:43 PM on January 26, 2005


Never?
posted by caddis at 12:49 PM on January 26, 2005


In short: lighten up, everybody.

*standing ovation*
posted by raedyn at 12:52 PM on January 26, 2005


In short: lighten up, everybody.


Humph. This from someone who defends "there's many."

*stomps heavily off in a pedantic huff, aiming a kick at raedyn on the way*
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:05 PM on January 26, 2005


One of my pet peeves is the misspelt word, 'alot'. As my 8th grade English teacher said in a fit of frustration, "A LOT is two damn words!" some lessons you never forget. Whew I feel better knowing everyone else knows it now.

I make mistakes all the time, I'll proof read what I written and then some bastardized Murphy's Law comes into play when I hit, "post" then in glaring neon, blinking back at me is my mistake ... ugh. I figure self correction is annoying to others so I don't it.
posted by squeak at 1:09 PM on January 26, 2005


I've been writing for decades and never done it once.

rushmc, you're a laugh a minute! That's an insane degree of unwarranted self-confidence, but I'm glad you have it to help you through life's vicissitudes.

CunningLinguist: Aw, jeez, lighten up!

On preview: squeak, you do realize... Ah, screw it. Don't ever change.
posted by languagehat at 1:12 PM on January 26, 2005


Metafilter: Always Avoid Alliteration
posted by Hands of Manos at 1:21 PM on January 26, 2005


Never?

rushmc, you're a laugh a minute! That's an insane degree of unwarranted self-confidence, but I'm glad you have it to help you through life's vicissitudes.

It's just a fact. I make typos all the time, of course, but I would no more type "your" for "you're" than I would type "apple" when I meant "orange." They are completely different words and that's how I think of them. "Self-confidence" doesn't enter into it.
posted by rushmc at 1:24 PM on January 26, 2005


Also I proofread everything I write. It does wonders for catching typos and such and isn't very onerous.
posted by rushmc at 1:25 PM on January 26, 2005


I don't think so.

Admit it, fandango_matt: you just never thought of it that way :)
posted by scarabic at 1:28 PM on January 26, 2005


I do realize I screwed up "I written" when it should have been "I've written" and would have been better to write, "and there in glaring ..." otherwise I am blissfully unaware of my infractions :)
posted by squeak at 1:30 PM on January 26, 2005


I've been writing for decades and never done it once.

Perhaps, but your never-misused-parentheses cherry just popped all over the sheets.
posted by scarabic at 1:33 PM on January 26, 2005


I've been writing for decades and never done it once. Maybe some people just write the sounds in their heads rather than the meaning, but that would open them up to much greater mistakes than just 'your/you're.'

I occasionally make the "its" and "your" mistakes. I have no specific idea why. I suspect that those two mistakes happen when I'm writing very quickly and not thinking very much about how I'm writing the thoughts I'm expressing.

My writing is fairly close to my speech and I'm typically sort of subvocalizing what I write. If your writing and your speech, rushmc, are (relatively) very far apart cognitively, then I can understand why you'd be baffled that anyone who knew better would make this mistake. But I'm sure I'm not the only person who very much does know better yet occasionally slips.

I hate it, though.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:53 PM on January 26, 2005


Well I could care less about this stuff.

Not much less, but I suppose it's technically possible.
posted by chicobangs at 2:06 PM on January 26, 2005


My writing is fairly close to my speech and I'm typically sort of subvocalizing what I write.

I have the same problem for, I think, the same reason. Different people think in different ways, and it causes different problems for them. Keeping "it's" and "its" straight when I type is definitely the hardest. Constant vigilance! For one's own writing, that is. For reading the writing of others, I recommend mental re-editing and a fair dose of tolerance.
posted by anapestic at 2:09 PM on January 26, 2005


*stomps heavily off in a pedantic huff, aiming a kick at raedyn on the way*

Wow. I've never been assaulted online before. Cool.
posted by raedyn at 2:26 PM on January 26, 2005


I am much more annoyed by posters who are too lazy to use the shift key than by posters who are too lazy (I am hoping it is just laziness) to use "you're" correctly.

Okay, this surprised me. I honestly never thought the lower case voice was as irritating as the misuse of words.

But in defense of the your/you're people, humans are fallible and not omniscient, so let's not jump on them for either making a silly error, or simply not having been properly corrected on the usage in the past. If you aren't educated about it, you can continue to make a mistake for years.

So, friendly corrections here and there seem okay by me, though getting bitchy is unnecessary. And people who are corrected shouldn't get defensive, even if you're perfectly aware of the rule but were tired when you posted something. This community has certain standards and I think it's better to keep them high than to just let anything pass. Especially with the recent influx of members, we lose a little something when we decide that community standards are arbitrary and don't matter. Sure, they're not set in stone, but I like that we notice the intention and clarity of one another's thoughts, and hold each other up to a certain level of discourse. It makes everything around here better.

"A LOT is two damn words!"

"alright" was two damn words for a long time... you might end up losing that battle.

"loosing" always confuses me, I have to say. I think of "loosening" and I just don't understand how someone would think it was spelled that way. But then, I used to spell atheist "athiest", and it took me a while to get all the consonants in the right order with Nietzsche, so we all have our failings.
posted by mdn at 2:40 PM on January 26, 2005


mdn, no need to adopt an athier-than-thou attitude, aight?
posted by chicobangs at 3:26 PM on January 26, 2005


This is the crappiest post I've ever agreed with.

Ah-yup.

I honestly never thought the lower case voice was as irritating as the misuse of words.

There was a lengthy and somewhat acrimonious thread on this very topic recently. I direct you to the archives, sir or madamn.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:27 PM on January 26, 2005


If your writing and your speech, rushmc, are (relatively) very far apart cognitively

Actually, I prethink everything I say just like I do with what I right. (And yes, it works out a lot better in writing than in speaking!)

But I'm sure I'm not the only person who very much does know better yet occasionally slips.

I don't mind occasional slips. Occasional slips are normal, human, and unavoidable, and we're not publishing theses here. It's the profound ignorance of repeating the error every single time one uses the word that bothers me.

"alright" was two damn words for a long time...

I would never use "alright," unless it was to convey some dialect thing in dialogue. That's worse than "OK."
posted by rushmc at 3:32 PM on January 26, 2005


("right" used in place of "write" for effect)
posted by rushmc at 3:33 PM on January 26, 2005


Nothing's wrong with "alright". It's perfectly cromulent. "Language" is "language in use" - we lack a central administrative body to maintain the purity of the spoken and written word. It's a living, constantly evolving things.

Alright?
posted by cosmonik at 3:54 PM on January 26, 2005


"alright" was two damn words for a long time

And still is. Perhaps you're thinking of "already."
posted by kindall at 3:55 PM on January 26, 2005


tip: for "things" read "thing".
posted by cosmonik at 3:58 PM on January 26, 2005


Far as I know "alright" hasn't been accepted as a replacement for "all right" in non-fiction. "Alright" has only been around for a century or so and used in fictional works, which may be why it is not accepted. In comparison words like, "already" and "altogether" have been around since the middle ages and are considered acceptable. "A lot" has always been two words, even Webster's doesn't have, "alot" in its dictionary.

I don't see the purpose in these call outs other than to belittle those who screw up and make them (and people who read the thread) defensive. I notice mistakes all the time but for me if I understand what the writer was trying to get across I wouldn't call it out. If and/or when I do, it will be to seek clarity on the ideas expressed not to nitpick since to me this feels a bit like calling someone out for wearing green socks with grey shoes and current fashion sense tells me this is a major fashion faux pas. I'm not sure about this call out, I understand where some are coming from, since there are words incorrectly used that irritate me, but generally speaking I am here for the exchange of ideas and not to be corrected on mistakes and thought that is what others are here for as well.
posted by squeak at 4:32 PM on January 26, 2005


For me , EB nailed it, "My writing is fairly close to my speech and I'm typically sort of subvocalizing what I write."

For better, or worse, I write the way I talk. As I write I hear the little voice in my head reading back the words; sure, sometimes it says: "Hey, asshole. Maybe you should reconsider posting this after nineteen beers and a fight with the ex. Ya think?"

Then I says, to me, "Yeah? Well, fuck that. Your not the boss of me."

But usually my writing pretty much matches the way I talk. The problem is, I speak rapidly and with little thought -- toss the total inability to type in, and you are (note the use of you and are as separate words) left with, uh... this.
posted by cedar at 4:58 PM on January 26, 2005


I don't see the purpose in these call outs other than to belittle those who screw up and make them (and people who read the thread) defensive.

I agree that we're not here to grade other people or their writing, but I don't understand the presumption that people will automatically become defensive upon correction. I, for one, always welcome having any error I make, whether in reasoning, citation, or presentation (typos excluded, because believe me, I'm already hyper-aware of them the moment after I've hit POST). I feel no compunction to defend my errors or to pretend like I don't make them. Because contrary to what seems to have become popular opinion around here, I make no claim to anything like perfection; I only aspire to excellence, and errors get in the way of that.
posted by rushmc at 4:59 PM on January 26, 2005


I agree that we're not here to grade other people or their writing, but I don't understand the presumption that people will automatically become defensive upon correction.


Well said, even if it does come from one who shows rather pedantic tendencies. When I make mistakes I usually see them shortly after hitting "post". The last thing on Earth that I'm going to do is get my bowels in an uproar about it, even if'n someone else notices. No one here gets graded on performance, and no one here gets paid for output. So, very much like y6y6y6, I find these callouts amusing at best, and downright hee-larious at worst.

In this webspace, I'm far more concerned with the idea that someone is attempting to convey then I am the finesse with which they convey it. To do otherwise is to engage in what I concider a remarkably petty form of ad-hominem. Any y'all who wish to equate spelling/punctuation/whetevernot to intelligence of the commentor are just being silly. But please keep it up, 'cause it is kinda fun to watch.
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:35 PM on January 26, 2005


I don't understand the presumption that people will automatically become defensive upon correction

I don't think everyone gets defensive nor does everyone express the defensiveness here. FWIW most people I know can't stand being corrected and can't distinguish between correcting an error and an assault on the ego and why I used "defensive". I don't think some want nor desire to be corrected here and why it can seem like a ad hominem remark. Does this make sense or have I muddled it further?

Wulfgar just summed up what I was trying to say.
posted by squeak at 6:12 PM on January 26, 2005


Someday a preternaturally sexy swirl of me is going to wrap myself around rushmc, fluff out his hair, snatch away his glasses, blow the dust from his beetled brow, and exclaim, "But my dear - you're beautiful!"; he'll smile and cling, endearingly unsure of himself, and out of reflex, he'll offer me a pamphlet; I'll shake my gaudy head and I'll affect a cute little frown and I'll whisper, "No rush dear" into his ear, and we'll weave our snuggling way out onto the dance floor, where I'll teach him to move to the cosmic mojo conga jazz which jerks and jolts the raving world as it stubbornly danses its unruly macabre.
posted by Opus Dark at 6:24 PM on January 26, 2005


even if it does come from one who shows rather pedantic tendencies.

You know, if everyone is determined to preface any reference to me from this point forward with this disclaimer (it's #5 in the past week), then we are really going to need an acronym to save time and energy.

As tempting an offer as that may be, Opus Dark, I must regretfully decline.
posted by rushmc at 7:09 PM on January 26, 2005


Ah well. If you ever need me, good rushmc, just snap a limber towel at the nearest naked ass (even if it'''s your [sic] OwnzOred), and I will magically appear, in a puff of delighted squeals. Adieu!
posted by Opus Dark at 8:02 PM on January 26, 2005


Adieww.
posted by cosmonik at 8:14 PM on January 26, 2005


I like being corrected. Either it is a meaningless mistake, or I learn something. How can I lose?
posted by scarabic at 11:04 PM on January 26, 2005


Damn you, rushmc, you've stolen Opus Dark's affection!
*seethes, tries to move to the cosmic mojo conga jazz *
posted by languagehat at 6:59 AM on January 27, 2005


There was a lengthy and somewhat acrimonious thread on this very topic recently. I direct you to the archives, sir or madamn.

Yeah, I was there; I just meant I didn't realize that people considered stylistic differences as irritating as actual grammatical errors. I am subtly annoyed by the latter, and by inarticulate or poorly constructed posts, because it takes the whole place down a notch when some percentage of users fail to meet what to my mind is a community standard. Of course we all have our bad days, etc, but I like that the average contribution here is of a certain caliber. I had not thought that using casual words, conversational style, or otherwise ignoring the Chicago Manual, was equally looked-down upon.

I would never use "alright," unless it was to convey some dialect thing in dialogue.

maybe this is what it comes down to. I think of posts here as being dialogue. I use casual words because I'm posting as if we're having a conversation in my living room, not as if we're presenting arguments in a courtroom.

Far as I know "alright" hasn't been accepted as a replacement for "all right" in non-fiction. "Alright" has only been around for a century or so and used in fictional works, which may be why it is not accepted. In comparison words like, "already" and "altogether" have been around since the middle ages and are considered acceptable.

I think the reason is just that "alright" is inherently a casual word - it means "okay." There is no reason to use it in a formal context (just as a research paper would not use the word "okay" - or, in all likelihood, the phrase "a lot"). "Already" and "altogether" have evolved to become words with potentially formal meanings (ie, rather than "already" meaning "all set" it often means "previously" or "a priori")...
posted by mdn at 9:26 AM on January 27, 2005


Nice. This little item, this inability to punctuate properly, to choose the appropriate homonyms, this is what I was talking about when I asked whether our time wasn't better spent arguing about other grammatical issues. Capitalization, I can live without. Instances of "your" where "you're" should be, on the other hand, looks to me like so much bathroom graffiti. I am often tempted to correct bathroom graffiti with a red Sharpie. Please help me keep my monitor free of offending red permanent marker by paying attention to the contractions. Although I've been a consistent lower-case poster for a long time, I've not ever forgotten where the shift key is when it comes time to add quotation marks, apostrophes, and the like. In terms of readability, failure to use the correct form of a word - or the correct word in the first place - is a much larger gaffe than forgetting to capitalize proper nouns. Lack of capitalization is much less likely to alter the meaning of the sentence than is use of the incorrect word.

Also, I love it when languagehat writes "lucubrations". (In my mind I can see the spell checker asking politely "Did you mean lubrications?")

Damn. I've gone and scrolled the page, and the offending contraction has crawled out from under the red mark. Now I'm going to have to get out my Sharpie yet again. This is playing hell with my screen, I tell you...
posted by caution live frogs at 11:48 AM on January 27, 2005


While we're at it, can people stop typing "Woah!" when they mean "Whoa!"? Thanks. I promise in return that I'll start capitalizing.
posted by tristeza at 3:12 PM on January 27, 2005


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