Thursday, December 21, 2006

Grammar Bone to Pick

I was reading the New York Times and found three rather large errors in the same article! Here they are:

“During the 12 years she spent at a San Diego software company, CableData, she held no less than 14 different jobs.”

“When she was nine months’ pregnant with her first son in 1984…”

“ ’I didn’t have a minute to spare, therefore, I don’t think I wasted any minutes.’ ”

Can you tell me what’s wrong with each? Just in case: The first one should be “no fewer than”, the second should have no apostrophe after “months”, and the third sentence should have a semicolon after “spare”. The Times!

BUT there is a happy ending to my story: Upon e-mailing the Times of these egregious errors, a very nice man replied within two hours. He apologized, said he’d send the corrections to the editor, and offered to send me a copy of the NYT Manual of Style and Usage for my classroom! I’ll let you know if I receive it. I have to say, the Times really redeemed themselves there, although somebody should’ve caught the errors.

On that note, my friend L. and I are planning on becoming champions of grammar, Grammar Warriors, if you will. Our alter egos will be Mechanics Maven and Captain Comma. Our boss will be Lynne Truss, and we will travel the world stamping out unnecessary apostrophes, fixing split infinitives, and reminding the world that, while language is “evolving”, as the linguists say, there is still a standard to adhere to, dammit! We could have outfits and secret weapons, like comma-shaped darts to blow at signs where necessary and pens that double as stun guns for rampant abusers of the English language. Anyone who wants to join is welcome. Just don’t tell who I am; as my secret identity I am very mild-mannered and it might shock all who know me.

Dorks—er, Grammarians Unite!

1 comment:

feather nester said...

Okay, but no grammar policing on the blogs. I purposely do not obsess over my blog entries, and, as you know, I'm a professional editor. Besides, I could bust you for the same mistake you caught the Times in, in this entry! :) But I think blogs should be free-for-alls, run as the writer sees fit. So go ahead and call as many kettles as you'd like black! It's all good.
p.s. Your friend L doesn't happen to be my SIL, does she? 'Cause I'm sure she'd joing the crusade.