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BS: World's best grammatical howlers

Nickhere 17 Feb 09 - 09:09 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 17 Feb 09 - 10:17 PM
Nickhere 17 Feb 09 - 10:29 PM
Ebbie 17 Feb 09 - 10:35 PM
dick greenhaus 17 Feb 09 - 11:02 PM
Bill D 17 Feb 09 - 11:08 PM
Ebbie 17 Feb 09 - 11:08 PM
Mickey191 17 Feb 09 - 11:16 PM
Liz the Squeak 18 Feb 09 - 02:51 AM
Nickhere 18 Feb 09 - 04:31 AM
DMcG 18 Feb 09 - 04:37 AM
Micca 18 Feb 09 - 05:11 AM
manitas_at_work 18 Feb 09 - 05:15 AM
Monique 18 Feb 09 - 06:22 AM
s&r 18 Feb 09 - 06:33 AM
John Hardly 18 Feb 09 - 06:39 AM
SINSULL 18 Feb 09 - 08:09 AM
TheSnail 18 Feb 09 - 08:44 AM
Bat Goddess 18 Feb 09 - 09:54 AM
SPB-Cooperator 18 Feb 09 - 10:02 AM
Jack Blandiver 18 Feb 09 - 10:25 AM
Bill D 18 Feb 09 - 10:34 AM
Monique 18 Feb 09 - 11:35 AM
Uncle_DaveO 18 Feb 09 - 11:58 AM
VirginiaTam 18 Feb 09 - 12:55 PM
Ebbie 18 Feb 09 - 01:02 PM
Genie 18 Feb 09 - 01:36 PM
GUEST,Chongo Chimp 18 Feb 09 - 02:43 PM
Bill D 18 Feb 09 - 03:32 PM
Bainbo 18 Feb 09 - 04:06 PM
Little Hawk 18 Feb 09 - 04:10 PM
TheSnail 18 Feb 09 - 04:57 PM
Wolfhound person 18 Feb 09 - 05:01 PM
Bat Goddess 18 Feb 09 - 05:04 PM
Liz the Squeak 18 Feb 09 - 05:21 PM
Genie 18 Feb 09 - 05:23 PM
Jim Dixon 18 Feb 09 - 05:58 PM
s&r 18 Feb 09 - 06:10 PM
paula t 18 Feb 09 - 07:20 PM
Jim Dixon 18 Feb 09 - 09:49 PM
BobKnight 18 Feb 09 - 10:06 PM
Little Hawk 19 Feb 09 - 12:18 AM
Gurney 19 Feb 09 - 12:51 AM
meself 19 Feb 09 - 12:54 AM
Rowan 19 Feb 09 - 01:41 AM
Genie 19 Feb 09 - 05:12 AM
DMcG 19 Feb 09 - 05:21 AM
s&r 19 Feb 09 - 05:25 AM
Bryn Pugh 19 Feb 09 - 05:59 AM
Penny S. 19 Feb 09 - 06:13 AM

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Subject: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Nickhere
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 09:09 PM

Just following over from the other thread on grammar, I thought it might be interesting to start one on the funniest grammatical or spelling howlers you've come across. Maybe this thread has been done before under different names, but grammatical errors will always be with us so there are bound to be a few new ones.

Here are a few from real life / my own experience to get the ball rolling:

A neon sign in a hostel window: "Vacancy's"

(Vacancy's 'what'?)

On a cafe menu: "Sirlion steak"

(Poor Sir Lion - he might disagree with being eaten like that)

A sign next to a gate at a zoo: "No predestrians through gate"

(Personally, I don't believe in predestrianation myself)

Big sign over a fitness centre: "Women's only gym"

(Poor women - it must get fairly crowded in there, what with only one gym for women in the whole wide world!)

A sign in a pub while renovations were being carried out: "Sorry for the inconvience"

(That's ok, as long as inconvience stays in the corner and doesn't bother us, we'll leave it alone)

There was a sign in a shop in an e-mail a friend sent to me that really highlighted the need for a good grounding in grammar and spelling. Sadly I can't upload the photo here but some of you may have comes across it. It read -

"cock - £1
Diat cock - £1.10"

Despite the pound sign I don't think the sign was in an English shop, I believe there are a few other countries using teh same sign.

I'm quite surprised though these days where I find grammatical errors - I've even spotted one in a very popular national magazine about geography, which I previously thought to be the industry standard when it came to grammar and spelling.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 10:17 PM

Nickhere, in the local paper there was a daily column which pointed out the type of things you posted. While there were a few photo examples of inappropriate spelling and/or syntax, or just a compilation, it turned out that most had to do with folks for whom English was not their primary language--if it was their language at all. After awhile, I just stopped reading them, because it seemed, somehow, mean spirited to me. His column did not survive the 15% cutback at the paper.

Of course I Love Lucy made a career out of Desi's bad grammar and mis-pronunciations.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Nickhere
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 10:29 PM

The example of diat cock was probably non-English speaking, based on pronunciation. But the other examples I quoted were all 100% from native English speakers.


(I'll be back from holidays in a week or so, and will get back to you on the radio link, only had a chance to listen to the start of it so far)


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Ebbie
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 10:35 PM

One in a classified ad in my local newspaper: Needed On Sight Manager


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 11:02 PM

Damn. I thought we'd just finished eight years of them. But I guess I misunderestimated the situation.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 11:08 PM

There are so many I quit trying to remember the ones I've seen. Careless use of apostrophes is rampant...but it's hard to tell which are ONLY careless due to hurried typing and which are the result of flatly not understanding the use & rules.

There are other 'little' things about which many people just never bother to even learn the correct usage...

Grammar usually refers to word order and proper use of modifiers and constructing a sentence so that infinitives are not split, but punctuation and spelling are much easier to notice.

Oh...one that really gets me is the way a large portion of the military doesn't know the difference between a 'contingency' and a 'contingent'.

I know that misusing 'there' 'their' and 'they're' is mostly a spelling issue, but continued misuse seems to me to indicate a general vagueness about their place in the language. This is a bit like Ebbie's example. In these days of the WWW (World Wide Web..not 'internet' in most cases) the word site is used/spelled as 'cite' or 'sight' all too often.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Ebbie
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 11:08 PM

"Did I just say that?"


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Mickey191
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 11:16 PM

Dover Plains, NY--Today

Gas Station Sign: Under new manager.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 02:51 AM

There's a Raptor sanctuary in Kent that has more apostrophes in its signage than strictly necessary... Eagle's, hawk's, owl's and vulture's.

Even better, there is a school in Barking that has on its gates signs for 'Infant's' and 'Junior's'... A flippin' SCHOOL fer crissakes!

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Nickhere
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 04:31 AM

There was a newspaper I read years ago which informed us that "the two cars were travelling behind each other in the direction of Dover"

plus I remember being surprised at reading in a local paper that athletes were about to run the world's first underground mile in a disused mine shaft in South Africa. So far so good. Except that the mine shaft was described as being 18 feet wide and 3 feet high.... I don't know if it qualifies as a grammar error as such, but it was hard to see how the athletes were going to get up any speed with their knuckles knocking sparks out of the floor.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: DMcG
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 04:37 AM

I watched a generally intelligent program on Martin Luther which was wrecked for me when the presenter claimed Luther "went into hiding and had to grow a false beard". Surely he grew a real one? The image of Luther messing around trying to grow some beard-glasses-and-false-nose kit was too amusing for me to concentrate on the program for some time.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Micca
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 05:11 AM

While this is not an actual mistake, (it was apparently a Genuine add) there appeared in the New Scientist( prestigious British Science publication) some years ago an advert for an " Edible Oil Technologist"


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 05:15 AM

The people selling the 'diat cock' may not have had English as their first language but why didn't they just copy the spelling on the cans?


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Monique
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 06:22 AM

Just have a look here... difficult to copy "diet coke" spelled "diet coke" from the can


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: s&r
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 06:33 AM

Only dead languages have fixed rules and spelling. Living languages change all the time. Live with it

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: John Hardly
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 06:39 AM

"Only dead languages have fixed rules and spelling. Living languages change all the time. Live with it"

Hiftho, ilan aihgbn. Tnr kwto belgpwrt, dzshtu wmptr wl.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: SINSULL
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 08:09 AM

From Kendall - an advert a friend of his ran:
Antique dealer wants one night stand.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 08:44 AM

There is a decorator's van around here which has a very smart and expensive looking custom paint job with the company's name and logo on the back and both sides. It includes the slogan "No job to big, no job to small".


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 09:54 AM

There was a great cartoon I saw (and saved!) a number of years ago -- the sign in the newspaper office window read, "Editor's Wanted" while the passerby did a doubletake.

My favorite classified ad typo was a local printer advertising for a press operator for both "web and sheepfed" -- for those of you unfamiliar with printing presses, that should be SHEETfed.

I've worked around a lot of hungry presses, but seldom found any that needed to be fed livestock...(just poor, hapless production techs).

Linn


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 10:02 AM

One of my favourites was when we were singing on the Cutty Sark, and they asked us to display the following sign.

Book's and CD's on sale in the shop.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 10:25 AM

Whilst ordinarily I find this sort of petty pendantic niggling irksome in the extreme (see the jolly spat I had with TheSnail & Don Firth Here for my general feelings on the matter - the debate arises after WAV's Grammatical Howler in his post of 01 Jun 08 - 01:41 PM) I nevertheless recall rolling about in helpless hysterics upon reading a notice in a post office window (Wolsingham as I recall) advertising that someone had an Otter Man for sale.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 10:34 AM

'diat cock' seerms to me a perfect example of translating a spoken phrase into print by someone who does not speak English natively.
'di-at' is a close approximation of what is heard, and 'cock' or even 'cok' is a common sound in languages where the long 'o', as in 'oh' sound in not common. I remember in basic German class in college that there were a few folks who seemed emotionally resistant to 'making those funny sounds'.

As to why people do NOT ask for help or consult a dictionary or spelling helper? Now we're into psychology. For years, Japanese manufacturers considered it something like a point of honor to 'learn' English and write their own instruction manuals. leading to all the jokes we remember. Now, big places like Sony have translations done by experts for the various languages, and their manuals are pretty clear.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Monique
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 11:35 AM

Boss: When you have a doubt, just use a dictionary.
Secretary: But sir, I have no doubt!


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 11:58 AM

That's classical: The bad speller either has no doubt or doesn't care.   The person with bad grammar has no doubt or doesn't care.

Or a third possibility for either bad spelling or bad grammar is that the mistakes were deliberately taught that way because the teacher had no doubt or didn't care. So the current "offender" defends by saying, "I was always taught that . . ." Or (s)he even "corrects" the usage of others on the basis of correct memory of incorrect teaching, taken as gospel truth.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 12:55 PM

my fignrs sufer form predictive text syrdnome

soory


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 01:02 PM

My figure does too.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Genie
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 01:36 PM

This is a composite blurb, from memory, based on spelling, grammatical, syntactical, and just-plain conceptual errors I encountered in students' term papers and essay exam questions when I was teaching a course at York University on psychosexual development.


"Most studies of how the men treat women in pubic places have been conducted very biastly.   Psychogists generally agree that boys are usually rough, while girls are gentile. The male hormore testrogen affects sex-roll development in profound ways, but a lot of the deviancy of boy's vs. girl's personality development is the result of the theories of Sigmund Freud in early childhood. ... "

Somewhere in my attic I have the original composite "essay" I put together from those exam answers and term papers.   I'd love to find it. But you get the general idea, I'm sure.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: GUEST,Chongo Chimp
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 02:43 PM

Most Howlers are pretty bad at grammar. No doubt about it. Gorillas usually ain't too good at it either, but they're way better than the Howlers are. The basic problem is that a Howler ain't got enough gray matter between his ears to power a night light.

- Chongo


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 03:32 PM

Oh my, Genie... I used to grade papers similar to that when I taught a freshman class in college...though mostly not THAT bad. There were kids who just were NOT prepared to write.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Bainbo
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 04:06 PM

There seems to be a general assumption that plurals are formed by using an apostrophe. But even those who know that's not the general rule seem to think it applies when the word ends in a vowel - tomato's, fascia's and the like. My favourite, though was one I spotted in a pub. which was offering pizz'a's .

Another, which appeared in a newspaper I was working for in North East England, referred to one of that region's most distinguished sons, the father of English literature. The reporter genuinely thought he was known as The Vulnerable Bede, and couldn't see what he'd done wrong. Sadly, it wasn't spotted by a sub-editor before it appeared in print.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 04:10 PM

When' in' doubt'...jus't' put' a'postrophe's' every'where'.

I think that may be what is happening out there these days.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 04:57 PM

It's probably a jealousy thing because English hasn't got all those exotic graves and acutes and cidillas and umlauts that make other languages so interesting.

(The Vulnerable Bede indeed! Everybody knows he was The Venerable Bean.)


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 05:01 PM

No, no....the venomous Bee'd

Paws


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 05:04 PM

Fairly often in posts to Freecycle, the person offers a "Three draw chest" -- I don't know if it's just a New England habit to not enunciate the two syllables in "drawer", but that is a result of New England (Maine, New Hampshire, probably some Massachusetts and Vermont as well) dialect. Makes one wonder if anyone besides my friends and myself actually read anymore.

Then one day I came in to work (at an optical shop I occasionally fill in at, owned by the same company as my primary place of employment) and found a note from my 25 year old shop manager saying "the keys are in the draw"...

Uh huh.

Linn


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 05:21 PM

The one that is getting up my nose at the moment is an advert for mouthwash. The tag line reads:~

"Wake up your mouth."


I'm reduced to shouting at the TV or posters on the Tube... I'm also thinking about increasing my medication.

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Genie
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 05:23 PM

"Only dead languages have fixed rules and spelling. Living languages change all the time. Live with it
- Stu"

Before mass communication technology (especially the internet), such changes tended to occur gradually enough not to make a huge problem during any individual's lifetime.   I mean, one could pretty much understand the letters written by one's own grandparents, for example.

What happens now is a twofold problem:
1) Some people, such as bloggers, TV advertisers, and others who command widespread media attention, seem to be able to change the verbal habits of millions of people almost overnight.   A grammatical mistake seen on the internet or heard/seen on TV is likely to be 'consumed' by huge numbers of people.   This gives those people -- who are often not that well trained in grammar and spelling themselves -- a very disproportionate impact (e.g., compared to English teachers or established authors).

2) To paraphrase an old saying, "A grammatical or spelling error makes its way around the world before proper (previously established) usage gets it trousers on."

Are we to accept "give it to Tom or I" as correct because some TV star or pop singer used that phrase and the rest of the media (often being chosen more for their looks than for their skill or knowledge) started parroting that?


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 05:58 PM

"Draw" certainly is a regional pronunciation of "drawer." Norm Abram, the host of the PBS TV show The New Yankee Workshop regularly says "draw"—and it comes up often, because his projects often involve building them.

He was born in Rhode Island and raised in Massachusetts.

I trust, though, that he knows the correct spelling is "drawer."

*
My own pet peeve is the people who try to speak or imitate Elizabethan or Biblical (i.e. King James) speech by indiscriminately putting an "-eth" ending on every verb. You frequently hear this from "Renaissance Fair" re-enactors. They say things like, "I haveth a cold." Aaargh! Of course, they don't have a clue how to use "thee" and "thou" correctly, either, or the verbs that go with them, but that doesn't stop them from trying.

There used to be a comic strip in the Sunday St. Paul Pioneer Press, a sort of low-rent imitation of "Prince Valiant" but drawn in a style more like Japanese manga or anime. It had a swashbuckling knights-and-dragons theme, and to make the dialog sound quaint, they regularly committed this kind of atrocity.

I looked for an example online, but failed to find one.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: s&r
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 06:10 PM

Good point Genie. I do have my pet hates with 'mistakes' in grammar and spelling as I learned them. Pronunciation too. However,I think it's like tilting at windmills to turn back the tide of language change (if I can mix metaphors.

For what it's worth my pet hates are cervical with a long 'i', dissect with a long 'i', aitch pronounced as if it started with an 'h', clumsy constructions to avoid splitting infinitives (a meaningless construct in English), your example of 'Tom or I' above.

On a parallel thread someone was writing about ITA which failed mostly I think by stopping children writing the same language as their parents and grandparents

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: paula t
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 07:20 PM

I worked as a lifeguard at my local leisure centre many years ago .The manager could not understand my objections to the following line in an advertisement for a swimming course,"The safety of the children is of course the penultimate".


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 09:49 PM

Every time I see a list of "rules and regulations", I always wonder: which ones are the rules and which ones are the regulations?


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: BobKnight
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 10:06 PM

Some of these errors come from people who write as they speak. It seems the English no longer aspirate the "wh," sound - so we get spellings like,"wether," instead of whether." Also, wen, ware, and wot, instead of when, where and what.

A woman on TV tonight said, " I literally turned to stone," - really?

A magazine I was reading a couple of days ago wrote, "This photo could be improved by cropping a slither off the bottom," when of course they meant "sliver."


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 12:18 AM

If she had literally turned to stone it would make for a short interview, wouldn't it? ;-) But think of the rest those around her would get...


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Gurney
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 12:51 AM

Why has no-one mentioned 'America's Got Talent' or worse, 'America's Most Smartest Model?'
Not the best, but cringeworthy, I think.


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: meself
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 12:54 AM

It's amusing to read of people's pet peeves regarding pronunciation on an international forum. In North America, you would never hear "cervical" pronounced with a long "i" - and you would never hear "dissect" pronounced with a short "i" ...


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Rowan
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 01:41 AM

In Oz' New England I hear "Drawer" as "draw" more or less routinely although I also hear it as "draw'r". And it's very common (in both senses?) here for cervical and dissect to be pronounced with the long "i". On the other hand (the one with 5 digits) I heard "dipole" pronounced the other day as "dip ole"; that pricked the old ears up!

And then there's the medicos who pronounce every version of the Greek for "head" (cephalic, encephalogram etc) with the "s" replacing the hard "c" (as in kephos); they even do it to Celtic, occasionally. You'd reckon they'd know better.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Genie
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 05:12 AM

Yeah, meself, but the word is DISsect, not DIsect. I.e., it means to take apart or separate into parts, not to split into two parts.   (That's something I learned in high school biology.) That's why even in N America it shouldn't be pronounced with a long "i."   (OK, off pedant soapbox.) ; D

Jim D, as for the "rules and regulations," etc., that reminds me of a man who regularly offered public prayer at our church back in the 1950s.   He would include in each entreaty to God "lead, guide AND direct us in each AND every way ... ." (I added the emphasis.)


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: DMcG
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 05:21 AM

Every time I see a list of "rules and regulations", I always wonder: which ones are the rules and which ones are the regulations?

I wonder a similar thing about "private and confidential". It is hard to see things being private but not confidential, and vice versa. (I bet it ultimately boils down to two separate legal definitions, though.)


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: s&r
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 05:25 AM

And cervical is derived from cervix...

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 05:59 AM

I marked an exam paper once which told me that the Public Order Act 1936 prohibited the wearing of a blackberry in public.

(Black beret . . . )


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Subject: RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers
From: Penny S.
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 06:13 AM

Someone up there mentioned one of my peeves - fascias - which ought to be facias, fascias being bundles of tendons and sinews in the foot, not frontages.

And we have started getting "draws" over here, too.

Penny


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