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Category: Humor

A Sportswriter Cries “Foul!”

Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, at 1:30 pm

by Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist The hyphens are coming, and beware—they’re taking over. Commas, not so much. Commas have gone extinct. These are a couple of my pet peeves when it comes to grammatical violations in print. More on that later. In the meantime: Somehow, a guy named Al showed up in …

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Confessions of a Guerrilla Grammarian

Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, at 10:01 am

I was on a mission. It was dicey. It was bold. It had cloak-and-dagger undertones, although the weather was too balmy for a cloak, and rather than a sharp weapon I was wielding a Sharpie Permanent Marker. Let me set the scene. I live in a charming little tourist trap in Northern California. A couple …

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The Rise and Fall of Vogue Words

Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at 7:54 pm

In the last two weeks, on various radio and television programs, I have heard the word granular used no less than five times, in sentences like “The commission was hoping for a granular analysis of the problem.” The word got my attention, but I didn’t know what it was supposed to mean. All I knew …

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When Branding Undermines Spelling

Posted on Monday, April 4, 2016, at 6:32 pm

• Spring is in the air, which means that in America, major-league baseball is on the air. In San Francisco, two members of the hometown Giants’ broadcast team are former major-leaguers Mike Krukow (pronounced CREW-ko) and Duane Kuiper (KY-per). The team’s publicity department refers to these popular announcers as “Kruk” and “Kuip,” which we are …

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Resolutions for Word Nerds

Posted on Tuesday, January 5, 2016, at 11:09 am

Below you’ll find our New Year’s resolutions for self-appointed guardians of the English language. We language cops need our own code of ethics to protect us from ourselves and shield others from our self-righteousness. The Stickler’s Ten Commandments for 2016 1) Thou shalt proofread. Proofreading your work is a dying art—but why is that? Do …

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They Never Said That

Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2015, at 2:09 pm

The popular culture has always had an uncanny ability to misuse, misinterpret, misrepresent, and misquote. Its adherents believe that Columbus discovered America and George Washington had wooden teeth and dog saliva cleanses flesh wounds. The other day I heard a goofy radio guy say, “Till death do we part.” He thought “do us part” was …

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Euphemisms: Lying to Us Gently

Posted on Tuesday, September 8, 2015, at 10:34 am

Let’s talk about euphemisms, those soothing words meant to assure us that something’s not as bad as we know it is. A euphemism is a lullaby, a sedative, a velvet glove enfolding reality’s iron fist. In a way, the word euphemism is itself a euphemism—so much kinder and gentler than cop-out. Euphemisms are employed for …

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Stengelese Spoken Here

Posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at 11:16 am

The long and winding big-league baseball season started this week. Every year at this time we profile a baseball immortal who is equally celebrated for his unorthodox language skills. The choice this year is Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel (1890-1975), who at the age of fifty-eight became manager of the mighty New York Yankees and took …

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Are Two r‘s One Too Many?

Posted on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at 3:45 pm

Here we are, in the month that’s hard to spell and harder to pronounce. Every year I grit my teeth listening to the bizarre ways people mangle “February.” The culprit is that first r. Most people just ignore it and say “Feb-yoo-ary.” The 2006 American Heritage dictionary has a “Usage Note” at “February” that made …

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Resolutions for Word Nerds

Posted on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, at 4:01 pm

Below you’ll find ten New Year’s resolutions for self-appointed guardians of the English language. We are a group that needs its own code of ethics to protect us from ourselves and shield others from our self-righteousness. So let’s get right to … The Stickler’s Ten Commandments 1) No using big words to intimidate. You can’t beat …

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