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November 10, 2005



although it has lain fallow for over 5 years now (!), this seems like a highly appropriate time to point out my own erstwhile contribution to the grammarians' cause: The Gallery of "Misused" Quotation Marks.

Fortunately, most if not all of the content on the site is not time-sensitive and can still be enjoyed just as much today as it was when it was first posted.

-- Evan


Yes, they definitely need to do more to fight Irish rock star Bono.

Janey Yonkers

In a platonic, proof-reading sort of way, of course. I am sending the link to your screed to all my favorite colleagues at the magazine where I work.

Krys O.

I believe that there is an untapped industry for menu printing proofreaders. Oy, the hilarious mistakes that fill all kinds of restaurant menus. And one can always spot when a business owner's grasp of English results in signs that advertise video "convertion."

My pet peeve for local misspellings is a gas station in Montclair with a prominant sign stating their name is "Eastearn Oil." Aieeeeeeeeee!

gregg lopez

Why would there be an apostrophie in "Two Weeks Notice"? Is it a possesive? No. It's merely plural, as in "How mush notice do you need?"
"Two weeks"
"How many weeks?"
How could a week possess something?

gregg lopez

Why would there be an apostrophie in "Two Weeks Notice"? Is it a possessive? No. It's merely plural, as in "How much notice do you need?"
"Two weeks"
"How many weeks?"
How could a week possess something?


I work two jobs that expose me to maximum discomfort in this respect: as a proofreader and as a adjunct professor teaching a (required) writing class at a CUNY college. You haven't seen anything until you've seen what a graduate of the NYC public school system can do with subject verb agreement and apostrophes.
I find booze numbs the pain.

Jeff Jotz

Lynne Truss is my hero. I have a confession to make. Sometimes I correct spelling/punctuation errors on signs I see with my little pen or magic marker. Does that make me a bad person?

Bob DuCharme

Your retarded! (T-shirt: http://www.bustedtees.com/shirts/yourretarded)

While I enjoyed Truss's book, one of my favorite writers, Louis Menand, pointed out that the book doesn't the job it claims to do very well: http://www.newyorker.com/critics/books/?040628crbo_books1

Billy K

I care.

But I'm also a writer/editor.


Your first paragraph says it all.

I'm going back to drinking as a full time job.


i invented proofreading. tell em fred.


Gregg Lopez: Actually, "Two Weeks' Notice" is possessive. We just leave the words of, or worth of out.

Bob DuCharme: I just spent about half an hour looking for that piece before giving up. Thanks for posting that.

Brian C.

As a self-proclaimed stickler, I dug the post. As a former employee of a Continuing Medical Education company, I eagerly await that blog entry. Do get started!

TG Gibbon

I'm a big fan of the gang at Language Log (http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/) wherefrom the following:

"This is something that distinguishes linguists from 'language mavens'[:] If a generalization that we've been taught -- or worked out for ourselves -- seems to conflict with common usage or with our own judgments, our reaction is to question the generalization or its application to the cases in question. Language mavens try adjust their own usage to fit the 'rule', and sneer at those who don't."

I'm not saying anyone's a maven or I'm a linguist, not at all; I'm just recommending a site that manages to be correct, and is concerned with correctness, that does not succomb to priggish dogmaticism. The "rule" above applies, in its context, more to meaning and pronunciation than to grammar, syntax, and punctuation. Considering I'm a pronunciation fiend (the least regulated of the language dimensions) I'm certainly not trying to lay down any bad mojo. Just passing along a great link.

Generally they look askance at the Safires and Trusses of the world but the above is taken from an article defending one of Safire's assertions. Also, their take on "literally" will blow your mind.

mister Dsylxia

I Thoughnk that that was ! reely good. That yew wrot that about the gramaticular' way that people wright] stuph like that.
I really like the spel'l check on mi computer becaus it -shows hoe rediculiss My spelling reely is.
I like sentenceses ,, but when I speek them wrongel , then my freind Anna Slavcia sez "That" Im; speaking ebonix whitch makes her a racist, kind a .. but she's reel cool man.
I say you should have came: and that doe0nt eeven sound wrong to me.she say :you should 'v come , not shulda CAME . But If your a pore wite uneducated boy like me , it show do soun good!
Love you Wheel Yum!
I speak good. somethymes.

buckeye girl

Evan, you're the founder of the gallery of misused quotation marks? I LOVE that site!! (Even with no updates, it's still worth a gander.)

Recently I was reading one of those "urban fiction" titles that are supposedly the ruination of literature.
In it, a character was going out with his sister and her boyfriend and referred to himself as a "fifth wheel." I called my sister and we nearly wept with joy. Because here, in a book that is derided as trash, the phrase was actually used correctly. A "Third wheel" is occasionally useful, like with a tricycle. A fifth wheel is always superfluous. But "third wheel" is what you almost always see, particularly in situations where the third person is the odd man out. It took me so as surprise to see it used correctly that it took me completely out of the book.
(Criminal Minded by Tracy Brown and it was delightfully delicious escapism.)

capital essay

As a student, I do care. I hope that writers, before publishing stories which can be read by a lot of audience like me, should be careful with what they share publicly. I don't easily notice that there's something wrong with a writing especially if it's written by a renowned writer and authorities because, I trust them. In this case, I might duplicate their writing style. I hope they are aware that any document should be proofread before publishing.

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