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Words Matter

A story by NBC reporter Roger O'Neill provides a tidbit of hope for those who cringe at the sorry state to which our collective grammar has fallen. According to O'Neill, Fortune 500 companies are spending more than $3 billion a year re-training employees to properly use grammar. He quotes one Roger Peterson:

    "How about this expression, 'for all intents and purposes.' What does that mean?" asks Peterson. "[Or] 'at this point in time.' What does that mean? How is it better than saying 'now?' 'That was an awfully nice dinner you just served me.' Well, was it a nice dinner or was it an awful dinner? Make up your mind. We simply, now, must salvage American English."
It's about time.

Words do matter, and not just to grammar snobs. They matter because it takes a bit of time to craft a well-turned sentence and in the extra span of a few minutes - or even seconds - you can actually THINK about what you're saying and present an idea worthy of the reader's attention.
    If it's important enough to ask someone to read it - it's worth an extra minute of review.
My pet peave phrase is any with the word combination each and every, as in "A hearty thanks to each and every one of you." One of those words is wasted. If they thank each of us, they've thanked every one of us.


Gary said...

My personal favorite language abuse: literally. As in, "I literally DIED laughing." Interesting. You seem alive enough to relay that information...

Jim Seybert (on FoolsBox) said...

Along the same lines - how about "Can I be honest?"

Anonymous said...

Hello, sir. Officer English from the Grammar Squad. I'll need to see your grammar license. Do you realize you split an infinitive back there? My grammar radar caught you at "to properly use grammar." The word limit there is "to use grammar properly." And didn't you see that spell check sign back there? It's "peeve," not "peave." I'm gonna have to write you up for that one. I'm also giving you a warning for run-on sentence violations in that "Words do matter" paragraph. Just be sure to get those hyphens checked. Have a nice day, sir. :-)

Jim Seybert (on FoolsBox) said...

Guilty as charged on all counts, your honor. In my defense, the spell check dictionary did not catch peeve/peave. Nonetheless guilty. What's my punishment?

Anonymous said...

Syntax in the court! Judge Mental now presiding.

I've carefully considered the charges against you, and find them dangling like misplaced participles in a bad novel. As much as I enjoy throwing the grammar book at offenders, it is clear Officer English is a comma short of a dependent clause. So, on the first two counts, I find you not guilty. On the count of faulty spell checking, I find you guilty as charged (ignorance of the flaw is no excuse). I hereby sentence you, the defendant, to...well, a sentence. Here is your sentence:

"Keep writing!"

And if that's not a sentence, then do it anyway. Court's adjourned!

Jim Seybert (on FoolsBox) said...

Is this getting strange, or what?