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Things we’ve been meaning to talk to you about …
Breaking news is broken
Remember when a standing ovation meant something? Now performers get them
for just showing up. There’s a misguided tendency nowadays to overdo
things whose power is in their scarcity.
So it is that virtually every day, especially on the cable news networks,
an urgent-looking message flashes across the TV screen: “Breaking
News.” There was a time when you rarely saw “Breaking
News,” and when you did, you knew something dire had happened: war,
the death of a world figure, a devastating natural disaster, an
international act of terrorism. Now, the phrase’s force has been
eroded by the media’s crying wolf. I remember when CNN flashed
“Breaking News” to inform us that a recently deceased pop
star’s autopsy results were due in four to six weeks.
Those who have been around awhile still react to “Breaking
News” with visceral dread. To a young person, I’m afraid,
it’s just another cheap attention-getting device. That’s a
shame, because there ought to be some such terse graphic to alert viewers
when something major is afoot. “Breaking News,” once the
perfect option, has been ruined.
College ain’t what it used to be
One of Modesto Junior College’s most successful former students is
Jeremy Renner, a Best Actor nominee for his powerful work in The Hurt Locker. A marquee at the college reported the glad
tidings: “Former MJC student Jeremy Renner nominated for an Acadamy
Award.” Acadamy? Let’s hope the MJC
signage department subsequently forged a working relationship with the MJC
And speaking of signs …
The city of Clovis in central California has for decades had quite an
eye-catcher right in the middle of town, a vintage Art Deco billboard that
reads: “Clovis Gateway to the Sierras.”
Memo to Clovis: Make that “Gateway to the Sierra.”
“Sierra means saw-toothed mountain range,” says the Nevada
Department of Cultural Affairs. The Sierra Nevada Alliance, a conservation
organization, chimes in: “The Sierra Nevada is a single, distinct
unit, both geographically and topographically … Strictly speaking,
therefore, we should never pluralize the name—such as Sierras, or
Sierra Nevadas, or even High Sierras.”
Isn’t this something Clovis would be aware of? It must have come up
at some point. Removing that last s from the sign would probably be a simple task. Come on, Clovis. Don’t be bullheaded about this. Such obstinacy sends the wrong message to impressionable young Clovisites.
Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com’s “Grammar Blog.”
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More Good News for Quiz Subscribers
We are pleased to announce that we have added even more quizzes to help you challenge yourself, your students, and your staff. We added quizzes to existing categories and created some new categories such as “Vocabulary,” “Spelling,” “Confusing Verbs,” “Subjunctive Mood,” “Comprise,” and “Sit vs. Set vs. Sat.”
We reviewed and strengthened every quiz on our website to ensure consistency with the rules and guidelines contained in our eleventh edition of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.
If you think you have found an error in a quiz, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Blue Book of Grammar
by Jane Straus, Lester Kaufman, and Tom Stern
The Authority on English Grammar!
Eleventh Edition Now Available
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*Offer expires December 31, 2017.
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.