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Murdering The English Language

Abuse of our language is everywhere. Especially on the internet. This leads to irritability in those of us who didn't sleep through English class.

It also obscures whatever message the error-prone person is trying to convey.

Just this week, for instance, I saw a photo of a tattoo that actress Emma Watson sported to the Academy Awards:

Times Up.

No apostrophe. 

I wanted to weep. I tried to imagine going through life with an apostrophe-less contraction permanently etched on my inner arm.

Turns out, it was a temporary tattoo. Relieved for Ms. Watson, but there’s no excuse for such sloppiness. She graduated from Brown, for God’s sake. With a degree in English lit.

She finally took to Twitter to have some fun with the omission:

"Fake tattoo proofreading position available. Experience with apostrophes a must."

Did you know that there’s a movement afoot to abolish apostrophes? Well, there is. There’s even a Kill-The-Apostrophe website, to which I will not link. 

We must be vigilant, my friends.

It’s not just apostrophe abuse that horrifies some of us.

Is there anything more annoying than folks who don't know the difference between "less" and "fewer"? No, there isn't. Glad we agree on this. 

The rule is simple: If you can count ‘em, use fewer. If you can’t, use less.

So when we're discussing a serious issue like school shootings, we say we want "fewer" school shootings. Not "less." Lost count of how many times I've seen those words mixed up in the past two weeks. 

On a lighter note, I’ve been noticing the misuse of many common words recently. And I kept a list.

Last month, I was on one of my favorite websites - one populated by college grads - and a poster accused a politician of “backpeddling.”

I had to log off and pour myself a drink.

I was on Twitter recently and a poster suggested that someone “sign a release and Getty up.”


What John Paul Getty had to do with the issue, is unclear.

An anonymous fan on sports site that I follow warned us not be too hasty about the hiring of a new basketball coach: "PATIENTS has its rewards," he wrote. 

At least he didn’t stick an apostrophe in "its."

Another noted that an athlete had been put through the “ringer.”

Geez. That's almost as annoying as someone referring to a "grizly" murder. One not committed by a bear.

Oh, and in a comment on an Oscars piece this week, someone noted that Hollywood was full of "Hippocrates."

At least the H was capitalized. 

A reader of this website, we’ll call him “Peter,” sent me a message a few weeks ago with one of his grammar pet peeves.

“… turning nouns into verbs,” he sighed. “I actually heard a football play-by-play announcer describe a tackle by saying 'he collisioned him'.”

“I wanted to throw a brick at the TV.”

I hear you, Peter.

Finally, as we approach commencement season, I know we’ll all cringe each time someone says their child will “graduate college” in May.

No, no, no. Students graduate FROM college.

If they pass their exams, that is.

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