Archive for Grammar!

So here’s a post I’ve written

So I listen to a lot of podcasts.  A couple of them are sciency ones (the “Naked Scientists” one is the main culprit but by no means is it the only one). So I noticed a thing a few years back which stuck out somewhat but only apparently in the sciency ones.  It’s still there.

So what is it?

So whenever many (and it is “many”) of these scientists are asked a question they invariably start their answer with the word “so”.  And I don’t know why.

“What did you find when you studied shark breeding behaviours?”

– “So we looked at what faces they pulled when trying to pull.”

“And what did you find?”

– “So what we saw is that the grump faced ones were more successful breeders.”

“Why is this?”

– “So the theory we’re working with is….”

And on and on.

So stop doing it!

So have fun.


Lack of knowledge

There’s always the argument that people shouldn’t necessarily know the same stuff as each other and I subscribe to this.  However I think we can agree that there are certain things that people should just be expected to know.

For instance that the Earth circles the sun and not vice versa.  Things like knowing what vice versa means etc…  And knowing what etc mean….

Two incidents have shaken this belief in me recently.

First was watching an episode of Millionaire.  There was a bloke on it who was an English teacher.  OK?  An ENGLISH teacher.  I emphasise for good reason.

One question: “What is the latin for cast list?”  OK I might not have answered straight away but on Millionaire they have multi-choice.  I can’t actually remember the options but they were as obvious as these:

A: Vice versa, B: Cave canum, C: Modus operandi, D: Dramatis personae

He had to use a life-line! Unbelievable.  And this was at only £1000, hardly high up the ladder.

This bloke knew nothing at all.  Had only one question that required no life-line and that was question number 1.  He eventually gave up on the 5th question which was about a Dickens character and which novel was he in.  Now I actually didn’t know the answer as I’ve not particularly read any Dickens but I return you to the fact that he was an ENGLISH teacher.  Surely some Dickens would have been on some syllabus somewhere in his past if not his own reading for pleasure.  Honestly.

The second incident was at work the other day.  It was a team meeting on a morning after I’d had a rotten night of no sleep so I was drowsy and narky to say to the least.  I can’t really remember quite how we got there but I needed to know the name of the 1st president of the US (some obscure point about honesty I think) and my sleep-deprived mind couldn’t bring it forward so I asked the team.

“Oh you know the 1st American president, oh what’s his name oh you know…” etc.

And they didn’t answer.  They couldn’t answer.  Well one could, one who’d also done O-levels may I say.  But the others looked at me and I couldn’t tell why.  Nobody said anything.  I became mildly agitated as I assumed they were just being pains and annoying me.  Surely they knew such a simple piece of info as this.  So I asked again.

“No come on what’s his name?  You know chopped down the tree, can’t tell a lie father etc…”

At which point one of the brightest and most able team-members turned to me and asked:

“Alby. Why would we know American history?”

Gobsmacked I was.  Reminded me of a time long ago when I used the word “posthumous” in the office and not a single person in this office (a large dept in a major bank) knew what it meant.  I think it’s people’s lack of interest in knowing stuff that genuinely upsets me.  Very disappointed.


Hidden message?

We were reading N’s current book last night and a sentence sort of stuck out somewhat.  This is in a book aimed for 6 or 7 year olds.

“…and let him take it from behind when he wanted speed”

Well that’s one way to get your drugs.


Article addition?

When I was young I read a Roald Dahl book called “Danny, Champion of the World”.

It now seems as if this book has magically gained another article and become “Danny the Champion of the World”!

It sounds wrong. Did I just mis-remember? Or have they changed it?


OK that’s 2 people so far in the comments, plus me, plus D the other day who are mis-remembering this.  Are we all sure that there wasn’t a version put out without the “the”?

Comments (5)

Let’s see what man has to say about this…

It’s rare that I discover something new that I loathe with a passion.  However I have recently had such an experience.

It’s a word and the word is “baby”. 

Note it’s the word and not the actual thing that I hate.

Actually it’s not even the word itself.  “Baby” is a very useful word and describes exactly the thing you mean when you use it.

But the way it’s used in one particular way really grates.

For instance: On a piece of health advice from the local health visitor (interfering old so and sos the lot of them) it may say something akin to:

“When placing baby in bed, make sure that baby is on her back.”

The first, minor, irritation there is that babies are almost universally female in these things, assumedly the nasty militaristic nature of boys has not yet surfaced hence the natural feminisation.

But my main gripe is the use of the word “baby” to substitute for a name.

It’s ludicrous and annoying.  When would one say:

“When plumber comes round make sure you have choccy biscuits and tea a plenty”?


“I can’t move this heavy item I must get man in to move it for me”?

Well you wouldn’t and that’s my point.

Please health staff use a bloody article will you!

Comments (3)

Sign nirvana

Walking down the street in Derby on Saturday I noticed an Indian restaurant.  It was closed but only ‘cos it was the wrong time of day for it to be open.  Whilst there I noticed a couple of signs on the door.

The first was a local newspaper review saying how wonderful the place was.

The second said in its entirety:

“This Area Closed Due To Private Party.

Sorry For Any Incontinence”

It really really did.  I have a photo on my phone of it (just can’t get bluetooth to work to get it on here grr).



2 things I’ve seen recently with ace English involved.

First is a set of instructions for an electronic kitchen scale.  There are lots of examples but the following impress me:

“After finishing the setting. Press “MODE” then repristination.”


“”press “Mode” all the while. The second will twinkle.”


“After finishing.  No operation within 60 seconds, the system will enter the mode of the time.”

The other thing was a menu posted through our door.  A high quality thing in many ways but there are plenty of oddities starting with “Pasta’s” and “Salad’s” (but not “Appetiser’s” oddly – they got that one right).

And they put “paninis” down.  But right under there is a lovely bit of blurb:

“Create your own Yimmylicios Panini!”



You Wot?

Overheard on way into the GP practice this morning:

“I’m not being funny but I think she’s a cow [pron “kaah”]”

No you are indeed not being funny.  What was the point of the first third of that statement?  I can’t think quite what it means.


Revelling in bad grammar

Thanks to “utterdrivel” over on the NOTBBC forums.  This is a photo he/she took of the new Revels packet.


Grammar nazi returns

And why not?

Here’s a comment from the beeb message boards:

The only time I have thrown up after drinking too much alcohol through a complete stranger’s letterbox

Now what on Earth is going on with that?  But well done for getting a correct apostrophe in amongst the dross.


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