You, me, (I?) and a little pet peeve

Grammatical pet peeves.  Those pesky little mistakes that people make in speech or writing that make your skin crawl as you ask yourself if you are the last truly educated person on this planet.  We all have them.  I surveyed AWC staffers to see if years of reviewing manuscripts and pouring through edits results in a grinding abhorrence of certain numbers of these linguistic abuses…

  • The over-correction of I vs. me. It’s “Just between you and me,” not “Just between you and I.”
  • I can’t stand when people use foreign words and phrases without double-checking their meaning. For example, en masse does not mean “a lot,” it means “in a group.”  Even commonly-used foreign terms are the dictionary, and I can never understand why someone would take the time to put a word or phrase in italics but neglect to look up its definition.
  • A pet peeve for me is the poor misused apostrophe, constantly thrust in where it doesn’t belong (as in forming plurals–APPLE’S ON SALE TODAY). There is an Apostrophe Protection Society in the UK ; they post Horrible Examples on their website. Perhaps we should all join?
  • “Between he and I” instead of “between him and me.”
  • Confusion between the usage of THEIR, THERE, and THEY’RE
  • When people use quotation marks for no reason (or, when they actually mean to emphasize something, which could had be bolded, underlined or with increased font size instead!!)  Like this: http://www.unnecessaryquotes.com/
  • Confusion between YOUR and YOU’RE!!  (This one has a triple vote.)
  • It is incorrect to say “an historic moment,” it should be “a historic moment.” After Obama got elected to office I would hear this infraction several times a day.  It made my skin crawl.  If you need to reference this please check out Grammar Girl. Her website, don’t be scared by the name, is Quick and Dirty. She’ll lay it out for you.
  • And finally, the grandaddy (or should I say “grandmama” of all English language abusers – Sarah Palin using the word “refudiate” when she meant “repudiate.”  Listen to the piece at:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128950842

Tell us, what are your biggest grammatical pet peeves?

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You, me, (I?) and a little pet peeve

AWC Podcast Series: “Alfie the Apostrophe” and “Penny and the Punctuation Bee”

As if perfectly planned to coincide with our blog’s ode to all things punctuation, Moira Rose Donohue wrote two books entitled Alfie the Apostrophe and Penny and the Punctuation Bee.  Okay, they were published well before this week, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy hearing about them.  Moira answers burning questions like What is a punctuation bee? and How can punctuation make or break a Supreme Court case? as well as What punctuation mark are you? Yes, really.  Akin to the age old “What sign are you?” question, this is a fun new way to identify with those squiggly little marks that permeate our language.  (For the record, I am a question mark.)  Click below to listen to our conversation. (RT: 9:12)

Moira Donohue loves tap dancing, old movies, opera and, OK, is a self-proclaimed grammar and punctuation geek.  In ALFIE THE APOSTROPHE, she first revealed the secret talents of punctuation marks that only true lovers of punctuation know about.  For example, did you know that question marks love riddles and jokes? And exclamation points? Cheerleaders!  Perhaps you’ve already noticed that quotation marks are often filled with hot air.  She followed ALFIE with PENNY AND THE PUNCTUATION BEE in which punctuation marks compete to make sentences using their punctuation marks..

Her father, who read the dictionary for fun, instilled in Moira a love of words and grammar.  Later, her interest in punctuation was piqued when, as a young lawyer, she had to research a question about a missing quotation mark in a very old banking law.  Without the quotation mark, it looked like the law, which people thought had been around for almost 100 years, really didn’t exist at all.  The question ultimately had to be decided by the United States Supreme Court!

She grew up in Bayside, Queens (NYC) and was educated at Mississippi University for Women (’75) and the University of Santa Clara School of Law (’78).  Today Moira lives in northern Virginia with her husband, Rob, also a lawyer; and two dogs, Sniffles the pug and Quincy the Cavapoo.  Her two children, Peter and Rose, are away at colleges in the NY/NJ area.

Moira will be appearing at Christopher Newport University (VA) at the 30th Annual Writers’ Conference & Writing Contest on March 25 – 26, 2011.  She will be giving a presentation entitled: “Brush Up Your Grammar.”

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AWC Podcast Series: “Alfie the Apostrophe” and “Penny and the Punctuation Bee”