the English You Will Ever Need
The English language is constantly evolving, both the words we use and the rules
that control the usage of those words. Therefore, it is impossible to ever have a definitive grammar guide, or, if you
will, a Complete Guide of American English. And that’s our excuse.
Word of the Every So Often
(noun) the light reflected off a surface, usually that of a planet or moon, measured on a scale of zero to one, zero
being completely non-reflective (such as black), and one being completely reflective (such as a mirror). Sir, we're
going to have to ask you to put on your hat. The albedo off of your head is disturbing the other fans.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Word of the Week
8:06 am pdt
Untiring or ceaseless in efforts, as in: She was indefatigable in her efforts to burgle the home
until she got her comeuppance.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Word of Week
4:55 pm pdt
deserved fate; you got what you had coming to you, as in: After swindling all those old folks out
of everything they had, begging for spare change on a street corner is his comeuppance.
This Week's Deep Thought
4:51 pm pdt
is Alaska on Day Light Savings Time? In the summer, it never gets dark anyway. It’s
not like one more hour of sunshine is going to change anybody’s life. And it’s not to keep
from being confusing for the rest of the country. Alaska has its very own time zone, anyway. In fact, they
have two: Alaska and the Aleutians/Hawaii Time Zones. And the Aleutians/Hawaii Tim Zone
doesn’t do Day Light Savings. So what’s the point?
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Join ACRONYM Today!
1:44 pm pdt
at the Holy Grail Press we have notice with increasing alarm that acronyms are threatening to take over our language.
It is becoming increasingly impossible to communicate without a listing of what alphabet letters stand for what.
Take “IRA” for example. To name just a few, it can be the Irish Republican Army, International
Reading Association, Individual Retirement Account, or Mrs. Inez Raylene Amerson. But there are other acronyms.
Among many, there are scuba and radar, FBI and FBLA, CCR, CRT, RCA, AMA, FDA, NBA, NAS, SEC, BVD, BVM, and HGP.
Even the USA PATRIOT ACT is one really long acronym. And don’t tell me that they named it
and then realized, to their surprise, that that is what all the initials spelled.
there is text messaging. For the longest time I thought OMG was an additive in Chinese food.
Imagine how embarrassed I was when I learned it actually meant Outer Mongolia. This nonsense has
got to stop!
Therefore, we here at HGP have started the Association for the Cessation of Ridiculously Officious
Nomenclature for Yakking Morons. We believe that Acronyms must be stopped, and, with your support, we believe
we can stop them, although we haven’t a clue how. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not
going to try, or that you can’t help! All you need to do is join ACRONYNM. By
sending 29.95 to the Holy Grail Press in care of the Internet you will receive absolutely nothing, other than knowing you
are now an official member of ACRONYM. And in doing so, you will know you have at least done something,
and what can be more important than that?
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Word of the Every So Often
11:32 am pdt
Burgle: (verb) It's what burglars do.
Today in Grammar
11:02 am pdt
February 4, 1895: The Semi-colon.
As early as 1895, after coming off the disappointing loss of the dash to rival Gutwald
Buetterstrapp*, Erstl von Hemholtz had confided in his longtime confident and friend, Über Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager
that he was experimenting with something radical, “a mix... no, a combination... of a comma and a period...” what
he was calling a “sort-of-comma.” Convinced that punctuation wasn’t confusing enough,
he began stacking punctuation on top of each other in the summer of 1883, while vacationing in the Alps. Early
attempts had him placing the comma on top of the period, but, as he stated in a letter to Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager,
“I feel the period holds the comma down. Without the period, the comma would rise much higher and
take on a life of its own.” It wouldn’t be until 1903 that von Hemholtz would finally let the
comma rise and shock the entire world with the invention of the apostrophe. But for now Hemholtz was mired
in what he called his “stacking phase.” He confessed once again to Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager
that he “liked the symmetry” of one period stacked on another, but went on to state that he couldn’t “really
see any purpose in such a thing.” It would be another eight years, also in 1903, before he would
resurrect the colon, commenting at the time, “I was wrong all along in thinking I needed a purpose.”
It was on February 4, 1895, while attending a reception at Baron von Yamanstiffer’s,
while “watching another guest become violently ill after eating spoiled clams,” that it came to him. Writing
to Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager, Hemholtz stated, “It was there all along; I just needed to put the period on top
of the comma!” It wasn’t until that following summer, at the World Grammar Convention in Berlin,
that Hemholtz introduced to the world what he had now come to call the “semi-colon.” When asked
by colleagues what the purpose of such a thing was, Hemholtz answered, “Purpose? Why, it has no purpose.
It does absolutely nothing.” In what Hemholtz later wrote in his autobiography as his finest
moment, he received a standing ovation that lasted “a full twelve minutes.” It is still a point
of academic debate how Hemholtz could’ve invented the semi-colon before he truly invented the colon.
* Whereas researchers such as Le Heungh in Paris and Armorwald, who had begun a movement to establish the English
equivalent of L’academie du Français in London, believe that there should be no appreciative difference between
the hyphen (which had been introduced at the 1878 World Grammar Convention by Fregelmeyer in Oslo to overwhelming approval),
and the proposed dash (which Hemholtz claimed to have envisioned as early as 1872), Hemholtz had been convinced that a dash
should be considerably longer “to prevent certain confusion.” Early prototypes by Hemholtz were over three
inches long. Stated Hemholtz, “Let’s see you confuse that baby with a hyphen.” Finding such
a length cumbersome, it was Buetterstrapp, in 1885, who came up with the idea of “simply doubling the stupid thing.”
10:53 am pdt
evening, my name is Alistar Riley, and this is Grammar Alive! The show that seeks each night to
challenge its viewers with not only what is right, but what is also grammatically correct. Tonight we tackle
what some have called the most tragic miss-use of the English language since “gate” was deemed a suffix.
And that of which I speak is none other than the miss-use of the word “fact.” Our first
guest is Doctor Cranston Edelfice, editor of the very popular Dictionary of Every Word Ever Said And Why You Shouldn’t.
Tell me, Doctor Edelfice, and may I assume that we are not speaking in terms of a medical degree? Very
well. Tell me Doctor Edelfice, just why is it that you’re getting so bloody agitated over the misuse
of the word “fact”?
Well, Alistar, if it mayn’t be too presumptuous of me
to call someone by his first name who has yet to receive his doctorate? Very well, then. You
see, it’s a fact that people are using this word without even thinking about it. And words without
thought... what’s the point of that? Take my previous example. I stated that it
is a fact that people are misusing the word “fact.” Of course it’s a fact.
If it exists, it is a fact. A rather pointless use of the word, I would say.
And then, of course, is the phrase, “It is a known fact.” What other kind of facts are
there? A lot of good unknown facts are going to do anybody.
I’m sorry, Sir Edelfice, if
it may not be presumptuous to call somebody by a term of nobility that is based solely on land, but are you saying that unknown
facts cannot exist?
Certainly not, A.R., if it may not be presumptuous of me to call somebody by his first
initials because he’s not man enough to tell me to my face if he didn’t. It exists on the same
continuum as known facts. If they’re unknown facts, they remain facts just the same.
Whether the adjectival modifier negates or confirms matters little. It is still nothing more than
a modifier and it doesn’t change the condition of the noun.
Well you ignorant polymorphatic
abstraction, if it’s not presumptuous of me to openly insult you because there’s no one in the entire educated
community who would take your side unless a bottle of very fine Scotch were involved in the transaction. But
isn’t that the precise intention of modifiers, to change the condition of the noun?
know, Crany, if it may not be presumptuous of me to reduce your name to nonsense because it so much better suits your personality,
I say the hell with this and we go open that bottle of Scotch I’ve been saving for just such an occasion.
This is Grammar Alive! and we’ll be back after the break with Dr. Hortland Howl, whom, it is a well
known fact, is the world’s leading authority on semi-colons, and author of the nearly best-selling novel, Semi-Colon
of Desire. Stay tuned, why don’t you?
10:30 am pdt
In formal writing, don't use them. It shows bias. In fact, you shouldn't use them at all unless
you're writing dialogue. And if you do use them, only
use one. What does two exclamation points show that one doesn't? And if two shows more exclaiming, then why stop
there? Why not seventeen?
A general rule is: If your words don't do the exclaiming
on their own, then punctuation is probably not going to help. It's a bit like putting "lol" after something
that you want me to laugh at. If I'm not laughing already, if I can't tell it's supposed to be funny, do you think it
will suddenly become humourous because you've put "lol" at the end? Not likely.
Quote of the Week
Being a writer who doesn't read is like a fisherman who doesn't get in boats. Sure you can do it, but
you're never going to be very good at it.
10:23 am pdt