Written By: admin - Nov• 02•11

To draw attention to this jack so emergency responders know where it is, you’d want “Firefighters: telephone.”  Or, you know, something less stilted, but approximately that.

To explain what this hole is to the average bystander so they don’t stick a pencil in it, you’d want “firefighters’ telephone” or even “firefighters’ telephone jack,” just to make it really clear.

While I’ll concede that perhaps not everybody needs “firefighter” to be a single word (although a quick Google shows me that many actual fire departments agree with me), this is at least bizarre, and probably incorrectly punctuated.

Thanks, Reporter #1!


Written By: admin - Oct• 21•11

…to using words if you don’t actually know what they mean.  Mmkay?  Yes, “courtesy” is actually sort of tangentially related to this conversation.  But you’re really not doing something “for the courtesy of others.”

Thanks, Dad!

More votes required

Written By: admin - Oct• 12•11

Lisa R. found this, and wonders if the patient in question was royalty.


This submission relates to my belief that languages do evolve.  I struggle with that notion, because evolution happens through repeated mutation, and sometimes linguistic mutations are actually errors.  It’s fascinating to go back and take apart a wrong-mutation evolution in retrospect (“apple-pie order” is one of my faves).  But it’s much less fun to watch that evolution happening when it’s pushing one of your buttons.

Personally, this is not one of my buttons.  When I read a sentence like this, it definitely trips my grammar alarm.  But then I go back, parse it, and think “Okay, I get what they did there.”  Because I’m pretty sure no ad agency worth its Mad Men would let this ad out of the door if the copy said “While he or she waited.”  If they didn’t want to do something radical (like using “she”) or potentially offensive (like going with “he”), this was the only choice.

For controversy-fueling, you can all check out this article.


Hot stock tip

Written By: admin - Oct• 11•11

Colleen has discovered a promising commodity for you all to invest in!  It’s… customers!


I’m distracted by the non sequitur.  Okay, so customers provide a high rate of return here;  what does that have to do with the cleanliness of the bathroom?

I’m assigning this one to St. Jude

Written By: admin - Oct• 10•11

Reporter #1 wants to know if we agree with her that “shutdown” is a noun and “shut down” a verb.  To which I say: of course you’re correct.  And also: good luck with that.


If you want to be more cheerful about it, we could see this trend as a return to our Germanic roots.  I always did like how the Germans just smush everything together.  Ausgezeichnet!

The end is the beginning is the end.

Written By: admin - Oct• 03•11

I’m just trying to provide some helpful advice for Reporter #1, who says

I… don’t even know where to start with this.


Aw, come on, Reporter #1!  We can do this.  Let’s see.  That’s a bizarre, if not ungrammatical, choice of preposition, for one thing.  And I kind of feel like “Children pick-up only” would feel less like an instruction being given to children if they’d gone with… something else.  Yeah, this sign just creeps me out too.


Written By: admin - Sep• 20•11

Colleen submits this for your analysis:

Sign posted on our condo complex’s gate. Apparently in all 60 units there is only one owner (must be us) and our HOA president doesn’t see a need for much punctuation or a signature. But, he is a HUGE fan of capital letters (and weird spacing)!

It really is conditioning.  There’s no particular reason we should prefer one capitalization system over another.  But I am literally incapable of reading this note in a normal fashion.  In my head, it’s as jerky and awkward as it looks.

“I would, but I’m paralyzed with not caring very much.”

Written By: admin - Sep• 13•11

Dave is apparently traumatized.

Count the mistakes!  I got up to 12 completely different ones before I stopped caring.

(Click to embiggen.)


Um.  So, am I the only one reading the instructions in my head in the Buffalo Bill voice?  “It twists off the screw… it breaks off the card buckle…”  *shudder*

Among other things, this one clearly deserves a cross-post on lowercase l.  I’ll scurry off and submit it for you, Dave.  But mostly because I want to leave the room.

Braising a ruckus

Written By: admin - Aug• 29•11

More adventures in imported-grocery stores!

At first I thought I was going to just give this a “just wrong” categorization, and I snapped the picture surreptitiously as I ran past.  Now I realize there are actually two errors here, besides the obvious.  Unless the sauce itself has been “seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid,” it is not, in fact, braised. And of course “For All Purpose!” needs to be pluralized, even if we forgive the capitalization and exuberant over-use of exclamation points.

But honestly:  all-purpose?  Maybe I just know too many geeks, but I wouldn’t tempt most of my friends with a bottle of food-smelling all-purpose sauce.  This product needs a warning label.

Best left to the imagination

Written By: admin - Aug• 17•11

New-mom Lisa R. found this delightful mutilation of a perfectly decent adverb.

Can’t see the delightfulness?  Here you go.


Lisa herself says “You ship international what?”

I wouldn’t ask, Lisa.  I wouldn’t ask.

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