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A Grammar Nerd’s Musings

August 15, 2013
  1. I’m grateful for haikus.
  2. I’m happy we have a weekly farmers market Thursdays in Fairmount, even though I don’t take advantage of it enough.
  3. I’m happy my references are willing to be my references.

I did some math recently and realized the 20th anniversary of my hiring at the Delaware County Daily Times just passed. In those 20 years — 12 working at print publications, eight in the digital environment — have created in me a number of firm beliefs:

  • Most authors and people, in general, don’t know what “begging the question” means. It does not mean “logically leads to the following question.” It’s a logical fallacy that calls into question the veracity of some component of the prior statement or question.
    For example: For most of his tenure with the Eagles, Brian Westbrook was the best wide receiver on the team. Which begs the question: Was Brian Westbrook a wide receiver?
    If you can’t figure this out, don’t use it. Misusing “begs the question” will only make you look like an idiot. Also, in my mind, misusing “begs the question” is a capital offense.

  • Movies, songs, books, and all other things created, produced or published are “titled,” not “entitled.” People are “entitled.”
    For example, “After writing my blog, titled ‘Type 1 Philly,” I’m entitled to relax a little bit.”
  • “Irregardless” and “supposebly.” I’m not even going to address these.
  • Things don’t happen “on.” They happen.
    For example, you’ll notice, above, I stated that the Fairmount Farmers Market occurs Thursdays. It doesn’t occur “on Thursday.”
    This one might just be me having the AP Style Guide ingrained in me.

Writing about this reminds me of a story I’ve told a bunch of times over the years. The professor I had for most of my English and writing courses in college, Dr. Bugger (name was changed to protect the innocent), was a swimmer at a fairly large university in his undergraduate years.

As an athlete in a non-revenue-generating sport, he relayed to us that he sometimes didn’t like the advantages the athletes in revenue-generating sports (read: basketball and football) got at the university.

As an English major, Dr. Bugger was obligated to work in the writing lab, tutoring students and assisting them in writing papers. Dr. Bugger, when helping an athlete he felt wasn’t worthy of his time, would handle the situation in this manner:

      Athlete: “I don’t understand commas. Where am I supposed to put them in a sentence?”


Dr. Bugger: “After every fourth word.”

I hope Dr. Bugger thought I was worthy of his time.

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