Category Archives: Journalism

Crocs and Sideshow Bob

I have made my feelings regarding crocs quite clear in Kate’s Adventures. In fact, they relate to two amusing stories. Check out this entry first, then this one. You will have a very clear idea of how I feel about these abominable, hideous shoes.

Therefore, I was quite delighted to see a feature in Metro condemning them and recommending shoes that offer just as much comfort, but are much more attractive. I was not, however, delighted to see the grammar in the headline:

Die crocs die.

It should be Die, crocs, die. The statements are directed at the crocs, so they should be separated by commas.

This reminded me of Sideshow Bob’s tattoo on The Simpsons. His tattoo reads, “Die, Bart, Die,” and even though I haven’t seen that episode in years, I could have sworn that the commas were included in the tattoo.

I did a Google Image search, and this is the best image of him with the tattoo showing that I could find:

It doesn’t look like any commas are used, but there may be a period at the end. Technically, that period isn’t even necessary.

Interestingly, I remember in that episode that he tells the parole committee that the tattoo reads, “Die Bart, Die,” in German. He pronounces it with the commas as I placed them just now. Perhaps that means that there were never any commas, which allowed him to pronounce the sentence the way he did.

Slightly Inappropriate and Quite Amusing

I received this fantastic error from my co-worker Ben. Check it out:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bruce Springsteen will put out “Magic,” his first album with the E Street Band in five years, on October 2, publicists said on Thursday.

The 11-track release on Columbia Records was produced and mixed by Brendan O’Brien, who also produced the last record Springsteen made with his backup group, 2002’s “The Rising,” Shore Fire Media said in a statement.

“The Rising,” an album inspired the September 11 attacks, won a Grammy for Best Rock Album.


That’s the first time in quite a long time that I actually laughed out loud at something I read. I told Ben so, and he told me, “I thought you, in particular, would enjoy it.” Oh, did I ever.

This actually reminds me of this amazing and sublime page. If bad music could drive someone to terrorism, I think it would happen to this guy….

In the Globe again!

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was mentioned in the Boston Sunday Globe again this week!

It’s in the Ideas section, on the back cover. It’s not online, since it’s just a short blurb.

There is a picture of the “Cambrige Street” sign that I posted a few days ago. Here it is:

Where the Streets Have the Wrong Name

As if navigating our streets weren’t tricky enough, sometimes they’re spelled funny. A local blogger called The Grammar Vandal wants to know what the deal is with “Cambrige” street. Tell me about it. I grew up near a street in Jamaica Plain named after Frederick Law Olmsted. It is called Olmstead.

Sweet.

However….is funny the word we want to see there? It’s too bad funnily doesn’t exist….

Everybody has AIDES

Please don’t take offense at the title. My sister just saw Team America for the first time and has been singing the songs. Everybody Has AIDS is a RENT-inspired show tune that opens the film.

My dad sells hearing aids up in Saugus (Know someone who can’t hear? He’ll hook you up!), and he was recently featured in the Lynn Daily Item. I loved the piece because one line reads, “McCulley scoffs at the idea.” “You scoff!” my sister and I yell at him.

It’s been up in our house for a while, but I hadn’t noticed the egregious grammatical error in the headline until a few days ago:


It’s hearing aids, not hearing aides.
Yikes.
It just amazes me at how many errors there are in headlines. Aren’t those the most vital parts not to mess up? And aren’t there supposed to be at least two editors who check it over?
Weird.
I apologize for the lackluster entries lately (though I am loving the discussion on the prom post). My inflamed ribs are quite painful — I haven’t been able to take a genuine deep breath since last week — and the only way to escape the pain is to stand, walk or lie down — anything but sit. Working all day is bad enough, so I’m trying to minimize my time seated at the computer. I’m getting better, though.
I also have two pieces of news.
First of all, I made the biggest purchase of my life — a new computer. It’s a laptop, and it’s actually my first laptop! I’m a writer and it’s my first laptop! That’s crazy….
Secondly, I just finished one of my first freelance editing projects. I edited the quarterly newsletter for a nonprofit government organization in Washington, D.C. It’s fantastic.

Letter to the Editor….

Grammar stickler Kate McCulley of Somerville points out a violation on a Newbury Street sign this month. (DINA RUDICK/GLOBE STAFF)

There’s a new letter to the editor in the Globe about my grammar vandalism. It didn’t appear in the print edition, only the online edition. Here it is:

July 29, 2007

When I read the article about “Grammar Vandal” Kate McCulley (“Stop sign travesties!,” July 15, City Weekly), I was mildly annoyed, but decided not to write because I was sure plenty of letters would pour in about the elitist attitude of both the author and subject of the article.

Sadly, the only letters I saw published a week later had to do with the fact that the Grammar Vandal was not as much of a grammar expert as we had been led to believe.

While I thought it was amusing that she should get a taste of her own medicine, I was surprised that the Globe had not received any letters taking her to task for the way she goes about her hobby.

Language is at its best when it is used to express complex ideas and deeply felt emotions. We can be thankful that words exist when by exchanging them, we understand other people better, or when conversations help guide us through life with a deeper connection to our surroundings than we otherwise could have had.

People are complicated; the rules of grammar can only dictate what is acceptable to the pedantic, but never what is emotionally correct to the speaker.

And what good is language if a speaker cannot bend and twist it whichever way he or she wants? The fact that my wife understands when I ask her to “close the light” is not an indication that “we’ve resigned ourselves” to errors, but that the English we speak has been influenced by the languages of our childhoods.

Immigrants and children of immigrants will probably never speak Ms. McCulley’s English; in fact, neither will most Americans.

The rules of language change depending on who is talking. If a business wants to call itself the Avante Gard Medical Spa, what gives Ms. McCulley the authority to say it is wrong?

If the owners of Avante Gard stated in the newspaper that “Kate” is the incorrect spelling of her name, I’m sure she would be irritated, and she would have every right to be.

The rules of grammar — just like the rules of almost everything in our society — were mostly written by the cultural elite. So now those rules are being challenged every day by people of all races and ages, and Ms. McCulley and the Globe try their best to persuade us to click our tongues about it.

GILES LI
Brookline

Hmmm.

You know, I’d like to clear something up about the Avante Gard sign. Originally, I hadn’t picked that out. I don’t go after proper names, even if they’re spelled incorrectly. That sign wasn’t in the original list I made when I scouted Newbury Street for errors.

I caved in to peer pressure.

The people with whom I was walking noticed the sign and started taking pictures of it. They then asked me if that was the correct spelling, and if it should have been spelled Avant-Garde.

I said that it should have been. To me, it seems like it would be more likely that someone would spell the words incorrectly by accident than somebody would spell it wrong for aesthetic purposes.

Honestly, I regret that that particular example was used in the story. It’s really a weak example compared to the dozens of the errors that I found on Newbury Street alone. And I find it no surprise that a disgruntled reader would use that one weak example and ignore the rest of the rest of the work in the magazine.

Now, Giles….

I think that you missed the point of the story, and the point of this blog.

Let me quote the story:

What really got McCulley’s goat wasn’t an error here or there by a single person but mistakes made by businesses. Shouldn’t they have editors to check ads and signs?

Giles, my admonitions are directed towards businesses and other organizations that release professional writing to the public. These are people who can clearly afford to hire an editor to give their ads a quick once-over. They choose not to do this.

I only vandalize grammar errors when they are made by one of these organizations.

As for immigrants, I was asked by the reporter if there were places where I would allow grammar errors to remain. This part did not make it into the final copy of the feature. I told her that I’m not going to correct anything in an immigrant community or in an immigrant’s business. I have so much respect for immigrants, coming to a brand new country, starting their lives over, learning a new language. If an immigrant does all this and then actually starts his or her own business, I’m not going to jump on him or her for making grammatical errors!

As for the other works that I post on here, like the “F— the Systsem” tattoo, these are cases of terrible, hopeless grammar. I’m not going to be nitpicky about things that people say aloud unless they’re particularly egregious.

Look at me — one of my favorite words is “cruisazy,” which I take to mean “crazy like Tom Cruise,” and you won’t find that anywhere in the dictionary. In fact, I think it was Perez Hilton who coined that phrase.

Giles, I don’t like the fact that we continue to see such blatant errors in professional writing. Do you seriously have no problem with a sign reading “WE HAVE WOMANS SHOES”? Is that just the evolution of language? Is that okay? If it is, why even check spelling at all?

Honestly, you might have gotten more out of this if you had read through the entire article before commenting on one small aspect of what I do on this blog.

In other news, I just found out that my ribs are inflamed. I’ve been put on steroids. Perhaps the rage is kicking in.

Taliban: Plural

Earlier today, I came across the following headline:

Taliban denies release of 8 S Korean hostages

It didn’t sound right to me. It hit me all at once — isn’t Taliban supposed to be the plural form?

I wasn’t sure, so I looked it up in the AP Stylebook. (Say what you want about the AP — it’s the preferred style for journalism.)

Taliban: Extreme Islamic Movement that ruled Afghanistan until driven out by U.S.-led coalition after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Arabic for religious students, it takes a plural verb. The singular is Talib.

The sentence should read, Taliban deny release of S Korean hostages.

It’s funny, but I swore I saw a headline on CNN.com today that had used Taliban in the singular sense. I just checked it again, and there was nothing.

As of 2007, the Taliban are still a dangerous force in Afghanistan, but I am hopeful that the organization will not last.

Taliban: Plural

Earlier today, I came across the following headline:

Taliban denies release of 8 S Korean hostages

It didn’t sound right to me. It hit me all at once — isn’t Taliban supposed to be the plural form?

I wasn’t sure, so I looked it up in the AP Stylebook. (Say what you want about the AP — it’s the preferred style for journalism.)

Taliban: Extreme Islamic Movement that ruled Afghanistan until driven out by U.S.-led coalition after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Arabic for religious students, it takes a plural verb. The singular is Talib.

The sentence should read, Taliban deny release of S Korean hostages.

It’s funny, but I swore I saw a headline on CNN.com today that had used Taliban in the singular sense. I just checked it again, and there was nothing.

As of 2007, the Taliban are still a dangerous force in Afghanistan, but I am hopeful that the organization will not last.