A (very frustrating) stroll through CVS

Posted February 24, 2011 by annesg
Categories: Uncategorized

I don’t think I need to say much here.  But I’ll just add a couple of quotes from the dictionary and a grammar book. ‘Nuff said.


Exhibit A:

Definition of DO-RAG: a kerchief worn especially to cover the hair

(source: M-W.com)


The apostrophe has three uses:

  1. to form possessives of nouns

  2. to show the omission of letters

  3. to indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters

(and, therefore, “yours”–along with his, hers, and its, does NOT take an apostrophe!)

source: Purdue OWL: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/621/01/



I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Posted February 20, 2011 by annesg
Categories: Uncategorized


What the writer of this failed to note is that, sadly, logic and sense are rarely required to be persuasive.  Just think of bumper stickers.  I love bumper stickers, but let’s face it.  All you really need is a catch phrase.  It doesn’t have to be spelled right, it doesn’t have to be true, it doesn’t have to make sense.

Slogans just really need to be memorable and to make some sort of sense to enough people that they start spreading them.  Calling someone a fascist or a socialist requires absolutely no evidence, as long as the speaker has enough of an audience to spread the word.  Most Americans don’t even know what socialism and fascism really are, they just know (or think) that these words are the enemy of democracy and to be accused of such beliefs is almost as bad as not putting a “support the troops” sticker on your car.

If we all thought that reliability and truth were achieved through spell check, there would be no Kash-n-Karry grocery stores, Froot Loops, or Jell-o in America.

So when you want to persuade people, don’t rely on intellect and reason. After all, intellectual, reasonable people are these days equated with elitism and snobbery.  And nobody wants that.


I’m a little wary to post this. Or is it leery? Or weary?

Posted January 16, 2011 by annesg
Categories: grammar, language

Lately I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re “weary” when referring to being reluctant or suspicious about doing something.  That’s not uncommon, but then I heard is on NPR (gasp!) via a reporter.  Hard to believe.

But not really.  Because, you see, over time language changes.  Words come in from other languages, words fade out of use or change meaning, pronunciation changes.  People confuse one word for another, it hits the mainstream, and before you know it the language has altered in a tiny way. Let’s take the following sentence:

James is feeling a little (XXXX) about letting Bill borrow his shovel.

For now, the dictionary still reads thusly (all definitions from m-w.com)

Weary: 1 : exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness 2: expressing or characteristic of weariness <a weary sign> 3: having one’s patience, tolerance, or pleasure exhausted —used with of <soon grew weary of waiting>

So, James isn’t feeling tired about letting Bill take his shovel, he’s having reservations. Let’s try another word:

Leery: : suspicious, wary —often used with of <leery of strangers> for example: They were leery of their neighbors.

and this: Wary:  marked by keen caution, cunning, and watchfulness especially in detecting and escaping danger for example: The store owner kept a wary eye on him.

Weary is obviously not the correct word in this context. But I hear it often.  I suspect maybe folks are combining “wary” and “leery” to make “weary.”  And eventually the dictionary may reflect this.

For now, though, it’s not a good idea to send a business email expressing your “weariness” about hiring John Doe or about making an upcoming presentation.

cliché: a trite phrase or expression; also: the idea expressed by it (M-W.com)

Posted December 5, 2010 by annesg
Categories: grammar, language, usage

Cliches are the scourge of the word world.  After end-of-sentence prepositions, of course.  A cliche is an expression that has been so overused that not only is it rendered meaningless, but it infects the very ideas expressed in the sentences it lives within.

Maybe it’s all that cubicle-dwelling that business types do, but corporate America is particularly flooded with cliches.  It’s an epidemic of epic proportions.  Wait.  Scratch that.  It’s a the Swine Flu of business English.  “Epic” is a word so overused that it just doesn’t mean anything anymore.  So, please, find another word to abuse.

Epic: noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style: Homer’s Iliad is an epic poem. (Dictionary.com).

Some other examples include: think outside the box; grow your business; skill set; bring to the table.  Here’s a sentence that, if uttered in my proximity, may cause my brain to explode:

You should hire me to grow your business; I’m a detail-oriented go-getter who brings to the table a unique skill set and can think outside the box.

Yikes.  That’s not good business English.  It’s so generic that it fails to communicate any sense whatsoever of who is saying it.  Similarly, using tired out words like “epic” actually detracts from the true wonder of whatever it is we’re calling epic in the first place.  I can tell you about a prank I pulled last night that was epic, but you probably wouldn’t think much of it because all of your Facebook friends had epic adventures this weekend.

Food for thought.

Really? Guess you get what you pay for.

Posted November 26, 2010 by annesg
Categories: Uncategorized

Old Navy had some great $5 doorbuster deals today.  My kids love the slogan T’s that are all the rage today, so I thought I’d check them out.  Then I saw this:

Really?  “Me and Santa?”  2 problems with this: 1, the other party always goes first–it’s only polite; 2, it’s not “me,” it’s “I.”  Trying to sound like a kid might sound for the sake of a cute t shirt is not just bad grammar, it is, as my tween would say, lame (not sure why it would have a sore leg, but okay).

In honor of Black Friday, a shopping list for the word fans on your list.

Posted November 25, 2010 by annesg
Categories: Uncategorized

Do you have a friend or relative who loves to correct your grammar?  Or perhaps a favorite librarian at your neighborhood branch.  Maybe you’re in school and are barely scraping by with a C- in English and just want to make sure you don’t end up with a D for the semester so you want to butter up the teacher with a gift.  In any case, these gifts are ones I’ve seen and loved and thought I would share:

1) Lighted Reading Glasses

Yes, I’m serious.  I cannot sleep at night if I don’t read a bit first, and I know many book lovers feel the same.  Many book lovers’ significant others, however, hate trying to go to sleep with a light on. These glasses should solve the problem!

2) Funny t-shirt.  In grad school I got a sweatshirt that said “Free the Bound Periodicals!” Librarians and others who have spent hour upon hour combing through the bound periodicals will get it.  I still have that sweatshirt.  Here’s another good one:

3) an iPod. Or if you have some bucks, an iPad.  Yep, I mean it.  The obvious suggestion would have been a Kindle or a Nook.  And as great as they are, I love to download audiobooks from my library and listen to them while I exercise.  If you’re on a tight budget and your gift recipient has an iPod already, why not an iTunes gift card?

4) Chocolate Scrabble game.  Oh, the regular version will do, too, but who can resist one that has the letter pieces made of chocolate?  True word fans know that Scrabble isn’t really about the words–it’s about points, and the word “Za” can net you 33 points or more (especially if you spell it two ways), but word lovers everywhere seem to love this game all the same.

5)  Bookends. We readers use our bookshelves for, well, BOOKS! HGTV would have us all clearing out our bookshelves and placing just a few expensive objets d’art  on them.  But I have books 2 deep on every shelf.  An art piece I can find useful would be great, and bookends come in an endless (hee hee) supply of designs. Here’s a whimsical one that would look cute in a child’s room:


Have a great holiday season and to all those out shopping on Black Friday, good luck! No shopping for me–I’m spending the day putting up Christmas decorations and watching Christmas movies.  Might as well get the kids all whipped up into a lather over the holidays right now, right?

Some things don’t even need discussing.

Posted November 15, 2010 by annesg
Categories: language, Uncategorized

Can you see the pictures? The bottom image shows a shopping mall marquee in the family oriented Citrus Park/Carrollwood area in Tampa, Florida. The top  image just shows the names of the anchor stores.  Notice the very bottom two.