Yer Gramma's Grammer-1 ... Yer Gramma's Grammer-2
When the media are not well-educated in their own language, and good grammar is the last thing on their minds, they cause further degradation of it by setting poor examples for the reading public -- not to mention that sentences are sometimes so awkwardly written that their meaning is difficult to apprehend.
First: Here are a couple of slips in otherwise very well-written articles by tech reviewers:
This one describes a new laptop:
It has "less dongles"
SB: Fewer dongles. "Less" is used only with things that can't be counted like "food" or "heat" or "blood".
This one, oddly enough, reviews a grammar software program:
"The world has two billion English writers, according to Brad Hoover, CEO of Top Ten Reviews #1 ranked grammar software program, Grammarly."
SB: Top Ten Reviews' - Apostrophe to indicate ownership.
Sorry, I can't link directly to the source because Forbes' redirect freezes my editing screen:
Kudos to the New York Times: One of my biggest pet peeves is the improper use of the term "begs the question", so it's nice to see that the NYT, though not trustworthy in some other ways, acknowledges that it, too, has a problem with it, and also with how widespread among otherwise highly educated writers the error has become.
Now on to some not-so-minor grammar gaffes in three major Canadian newspapers:
The Ottawa Citizen , The Toronto Star, and The Toronto Sun.
The Ottawa Citizen:
MacDougall: Stumbling Jagmeet Singh the perfect Christmas present for Trudeau's Liberals
"The non-MP from Toronto was indeed so poor that Justin Trudeau can safely turn his back on his left flank ..."
SB? You tell me. Surely the writer didn't mean to suggest that Singh is a pauper - or at least was when he gave his speech. Is he suggesting that Trudeau's inherited wealth gives him a natural head start in the political arena? He does later refer to Mr. Singh's "bad fortune" (and then leaves an "s" off what should be "byelections", though that's a minor slip).
We have to guess that the writer meant to say that Singh made a poor speech, or that Singh is a poor speaker. If so, then that's what he ought to have said.
Moving on: "It’s only when you watch Jagmeet Singh be a bad politician that you realise how good of one Justin Trudeau has become."
Ohmigawd: I can't help wondering if two or more people had a hand in writing this article. It starts off with pompous, big-word verbiage only to go straight downhill.
You don't watch someone "be" something. You can only watch someone "being" something. We are human "beings" not human "be's". We ARE, we don't Be.
And then to say "how good OF one" Trudeau is? Is it so difficult to say: "what a good one" Trudeau is -- so that you don't come off like a highschooler who sleeps through English class? Well, at least he didn't say "how good of a one", which is actually more common.
"... Singh said he 'firmly believes in a progressive tax system,' in which 'those who are able to invest their fair share' are able to do so (?) ..."
I'm stymied again. Did Singh not finish the sentence at all, or is the writer not certain he should have added "are able to do so", so puts a question mark at end in the hope you can figure it out? Neither that, nor the words "in which" are marked by the writer as quotes from Singh's speech.
Then he suggests Singh's comment about not having a "firm line" on balanced budgets, despite wanting to have a balanced budget, constitutes some sort of contradiction in terms. Well, I'm not an NDP supporter, necessarily, but Singh seems to be saying merely that you don't always get what you want, so you have to be flexible. Sounds rational enough to me.
Yet the writer snidely quips: "Anyone else want to hand over the keys to that $2-trillion economy to Mr. Singh?" One might call that a non sequitor - a statement that does not follow logically from what preceded it - since there is no previous mention of anyone wanting to in the first place.
"Because I like to see a competitive three-way race in Canadian politics, and because one is required for the Conservatives to ever again form government ..."
SB? - To form "a"? or "the" government? (Minor oversight.)
Finally the writer winds himself down, but not before giving Singh a list of directives touted as Christmas charity:
No.3: Never answer a hypothetical. Will you work with the Tories? “I look forward to having a constructive relationship with the opposition when we form our majority government.”
A bit convoluted with certain helpful words omitted, but quite clearly a lesson in prevarication - that is, how to be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead or withhold information.
Yep, that's what a crooked politician would do, alright -- but the grammar is passable.
The writer: Andrew MacDougall is a London-based communications consultant and ex-director of communications to former prime minister Stephen Harper.
No kidding, eh?
Here's another Ottawa Citizen article that is pretty bad and would take up too much space to discuss in detail. Besides, the writer is a freelance journalist and it was up to the Citizen itself to provide decent editing before publishing this otherwise very interesting report!
It's one thing to believe in aliens, another to think we'll make contact with ET
Hints: "to only exist on earth" or "to exist only on earth"? "... "can be found in even environments"? ... "skeptical that" or "skeptical about"? ... Plus: Mixed tenses, missing qualifiers ... etc.
The Toronto Star:
American source duly noted.
U.S. government’s email surveillance survives years after Edward Snowden blew the whistle -- As U.S. law enforcement's authority to monitor email is set to expire, lawmakers have spent hours trying to ease privacy concerns but still can’t agree on a solution. By Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times
"Congress is paralyzed on the contentious national security challenge."
SB: "paralyzed by". (Just think about it.)
"Some experts read the legal authority to search and read emails of Americans, known as Section 702, to go even further."
SB: (instead of "read") understand, or understood, depending on the intended tense.
SB: (instead of "further") farther
Hint: You can go far, but you can't go fur. ;-) To further something is to move it along, or push it forward.
"... if an American participates in or promotes an event abroad as benign as a climate change protest or an academic conference on international affairs, they could get swept into the surveillance, according to the interpretations."
Suggestion: An American who participates in or promotes an event abroad as benign as a climate change protest, or an academic conference on international affairs, could get swept into the surveillance ...
“We need every tool and every authority we’ve got to keep people safe,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in December. “I would implore the committee and the Congress not to begin rebuilding the wall that existed prior to 9/11.”
SB: "to not"
Implore=Beg. "I beg you to" ... Therefore "I beg you to not begin building". (To say, "I beg you not" means I don't beg you.") Fortunately, we can understand what the guy meant, but it's not the proper way to say it. Gee, I thought the FBI knew, like, EVERYTHING.
The Toronto Sun:
Weinstein lawyers seek to identify Ontario woman behind lawsuit
None of the allegations have been proven
Right out there in the headline, for Pete's sake!
SB: "has" been proven.
None is the key word. None means "not one".
Okay, I acknowledge it's a reprint from the Canadian Press, but it makes the Sun look bad right at the outset and both news outlets ought to know better.
The following article, however, makes the Toronto Sun look even worse. The person who wrote it, rife with grammatical errors, is the Sun's Web Editor. She's an Editor!
'The TTC has gone overboard': No pain relief for subway driver who needs cannabis oil
"The TTC, with its random drug testing, initially allowed Farrell to only use the oil during her weekends and holidays ..."
SB: to use the oil only during her weekends and holidays ...
Otherwise, the misplaced "only" means that Farrell can't use anything other than the oil during her weekends and holidays. In a legal statement, a gaffe like that could lose a case.
"More broadly, the ability of companies to accurately test drug impairment levels is widely debated and with full legalization approaching next summer, the issue is certain to fuel controversy into 2018."
SB: a comma after "and" - because commas are used jointly to separate out a complete phrase.
"From May to July, her dosage was 0.3-0.4 ml once a day of the oil, which contained 0.1% THC, taken after her shift."
Should say: From May to July, her dosage of the oil, which contained 9.1% THC, was 0.3-0.4 ml taken once a day after her shift.
"In November, the TTC said 52% of the 23 employees who failed the random drug and alcohol test for drugs, specifically, since it came into effect in May also tested positive for marijuana."
TRY THIS: In November the TTC said that, of the 23 employees who were tested since the random drug and alcohol test came into effect in May, 52% tested positive for marijuana.
"In August, the TTC told Farrell that the medical consultant it hired deemed that should she decide to use any medical marijuana products, she would require a permanent medical restriction ..."
Again: commas are meant to separate out complete phrases; therefore a comma is required after "deemed that"
"The doctor didn’t appear to have a problem with the low dose of THC in the oil, in fact, it’d have less 'residual effects she would be experiencing from the sleeping pills or Percocet,' said Dr. Ilan Nachim, the examiner for the report."
SB: Fewer, not "less" - just like the dongles at the top of this page.
Suggestion: Fewer of the "residual effects" (that) "she would be experiencing from ..."
Apart from the fact that the use of "it'd" does not seem very professional given the seriousness of the issue, the word "less" is patently incorrect in this context, and there should be a semicolon between "oil" and "in fact".
"Less" is for things that can't be counted (e.g. less pain). "Effects" can be counted.
Further quotes from educated professionals, show problems with sentence construction, unmatched tenses, and grammar.
This from an M.D.: "You have now forced her to go back on opiates which are addictive, not helpful, worsening her mood and also cause cognitive impairment"
And this, atributed to a lawyer:
“The difficulty is that the science behind measuring impairment with marijuana isn’t at the level as it is detecting alcohol ..."
Finally, below are words that may have been put into the mouth of a medical doctor, since there are no quote marks around those attributed to him:
"Dr. Ira Price, an independent doctor with Synergy Health Services for nearly a decade, told the Sun he’s currently working on a project about educating companies about cannabis in the workplace to define impairment."
SUGGESTION: ... told the sun he's currently working on a project to educate companies about cannabis in the workplace and the definition of impairment.
"It sounds like the TTC is being cautious as to not put itself in a precarious position of liability, Price said. But in doing so, also leaves patients such as Ellaine Farrell stuck in the middle."
SUGGESTION: It sounds as if the TTC is being cautious so as not to put itself in a precarious position of liability, Price said. But in being so, it leaves patients such as Ellaine Farrell stuck in the middle.
Sounds like a bell
Sounds as if you're upset
Being is not synonymous with Doing.
That's it! Whew! I can now hardly see straight enough to eat my dinner, but it's a much-needed catharsis for one who had very strict English teachers and has finally come to appreciate them - and also to deplore the dumbing-down of our language, abetted by today's allegedly "educated" public voices.
By the way, if I made any grammatical errors, please tell me and I'll fix them.
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