Thursday, June 23, 2011

Win a free gift from the head honcho!

So, did you really think you were going to win a free gift? Think about that. A free gift? Have you ever gotten a gift that wasn't free? Of course not. And win? Well, you can't very well win something that's given to you -- for free. Right?

Welcome to today's topic: redundancies. And this one is a group effort. Please feel free to add your own, because I know I'm only scratching the surface. OK, here goes:

head honcho: honcho means leader, so ...

Please RSVP: The translation of RSVP is repondez s'il vous plait, the last three words of which mean -- you guessed it -- please.

close proximity: Yep, proximity means close.

my own personal: Thrice redundant?

In addition ... also: As in "In addition to being a language snob, I'm also a chocolate snob (no Hershey's for me, thank you)."

And now the self-explanatory:

PIN number

ATM machine

GPS system

On a somewhat related note, have you ever noticed the redundancy of the sheet of plastic covering a slice of American "cheese"?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Can you spot the errors?

The following was printed on the packaging of the Star Wars fishing rod that my 8-year-old bought at a garage sale (because nothing says fishing like Star Wars, right?).

So ... how many errors can you spot? My count is four, but two are of the same kind and are more subjective than the others. Take a stab and then look below for my corrections (or don't ...).

1. Kid's: Kid's is the possessive form of kid, not the plural, which is needed here: kids. In editing circles this is called the grocer's apostrophe because it's so often seen on signs advertising, for example,  apple's for $2.99/lb. 

The only reason I can come up with for grocers and manufacturers of Star Wars fishing rods believing this is correct is that they think the noun needs to be separated from the "s" ... for, I don't know, easier reading? I mean, are you really that confused when you see the word apples, having to stop and think, "Oh, it's apple but the "s" on the end means more than one apple"? Didn't think so. Please use the apostrophe only when indicating possession (My kid's Star Wars fishing rod is all that) or contraction (My kid's been playing with his Star Wars fishing rod all day -- here the apostrophe replaces the missing letters "ha" from has).

2. help any kid build their angling skills: Kid is singular; their is plural. So they don't match. And they should: "help any kid build his or her angling skills" or "help all kids build their angling skills." This is another battle we editors are fighting: the trend of accepting their as an appropriate possessive pronoun for a singular subject.

3. and 4. "easy to use push button design reel": Don't be afraid of the hyphen, even multiple hyphens: easy-to-use push-button-design reel makes this an easier-to-read sentence. You could also delete design. Plus -- and not being a fisherperson I may be wrong here -- aren't all reels the push-button kind?

How'd you do?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Plethora o' peeves

My former-hubby-now-husband (whose father hates the word hubby) alerted me to this list from the 6th Floor, a blog of the New York Times Magazine:

If I may point out my favorites:
  • anxious/eager. See my earlier post on this topic.
  • behaviors/insights. When, and why, did these become plural?
  • chaise lounge. This is INCORRECT. As much as I wish I spoke French, I don't. Yet. But I do know this much: the term is chaise LONGUE and it is pronounced something like this: shez long. It means long chair, not lounge chair, although it's obvious why this confuses people. 
  • closure. You may get closure by confronting that jerky boyfriend who dumped you, but when we have 3 feet of snow, you get school closings and road closings.
  • comprised of. No. It's comprise or composed of. Comprise means to encompass or include, so a zoo comprises animals or it is composed of animals but it is not comprised of animals.
  • deplane/detrain. Um, last time I checked, plane and train are not verbs. Therefore, neither are deplane and detrain. The flight attendants don't say, "Have your planing passes ready before you plane." So why do they say, "Make sure you have all your belongings before you deplane"? Something wrong with exit?
  • disinterested/uninterested. This one I learned from my husband. If you're bored out of your mind in a work meeting, you are uninterested. If you have no stake in the group that's meeting or the business they're conducting, you are disinterested; you're neutral, unbiased.
  • enormity. This has nothing to do with size. That would be enormousness, or better, magnitude. Enormity refers to outrageousness. 
  • farther/furtherFarther indicates actual physical distance: I live much farther away from the equator than I'd like to. Further is for more metaphorical use: I do not want to explain any further why I still live in a place with nine-month-long winters.
  • gift (v.). This is WHAT you give someone, not how you do it. You give it. You give the gift. We do not need a new word for this.
  • intensive purposes. If people who say this would just stop and think about it, they would realize it doesn't make sense. The phrase is "for all intents and purposes." (Which, now that I think of it, is kind of redundant. Why don't we just say "for all intents"?)
  • irregardless. Not a word. You are likely confusing irrespective and regardless, which can be used interchangeably but which should not be merged to form a new nonsense word.
  • literally. Most of the time, I hear this used to mean figuratively, which is its opposite. If you did not actually have molten flesh dropping on the ground in front of you during yesterday's heatwave, you can't say, "My face was literally melting off!"
  • penultimate. It simply means next-to-last. December 30 is the penultimate day of the year.
  • signage. Why do we need this word? How does it differ from signs?
  • towards. This is British usage. Here in the U.S. it's just toward.
  • unique. Yes, something can be unique, which means one of a kind. It cannot, however, be "kind of unique" or "very unique." That's like being kind of pregnant. Either it is or it isn't. 
Please feel free to share your favorites too!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011