Courtesy of The Plain Language Programme
Tag Archives: grammar fail
Oh Punctuation, how you baffle us! Your vexing ways make us say the silliest things. Sometimes coy, often confusing… you leave us sitting in from of our monitors with knitted brows, wondering what in the hell we did wrong.
Now in creative work, anything goes. Poems, short fiction… do what you like. This poem by J.P. Dancing Bear uses colons in an especially cool way. Punctuation is usually about timing… about when a reader receives an idea. “Not Persephone” uses colons to parse out moments of thought, but show how they all pull out from the first line. The effect is pretty and rather brilliant.
But in business writing the enterprise requires more thought. Proper and consistent use of punctuation affords strong, crisp writing. So for those of us who are not poets: Lisa Kusko has a super-popular blog for business writing. Her tips apply to just about anyone trying to hone their craft, or simply not sound ridiculous. Knowing what to use where and when helps, so check it out!
Sad but true: As a writer, grammar fails always make me giggle. It’s lexical Schadenfreude and I’m super guilty of it. Now there are some considered moderately passable, given the general state of the English language in the U.S. (word choice or subject-verb agreement boo-boos). Yes I may wince, but I let it go because no one else will notice and I look like a prissy nerd. Okay okay. I get it.
But when high-ranking universities have advertisements soliciting M.B.A. students have these kinds of errors, I take photos. Blurry photos, but yes. Photos. I take them (sorry the BART was moving…).
Now I know it’s hard to see, so let me transcribe the last sentence for you:
“All business programs are part-time and designed for busy working professionals who seek the knowledge and skills to accelerate their career.”
I read this the other night and winced so hard. Really, Top-Ranking-University-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless? Their career? All busy working professionals share a single career? That’s one crowded cubicle.
Somebody over there needs a lesson in number agreement, and possibly, a proofreader.
I know what you’re thinking. “Cyn– no one is going to notice that. It’s a small error… not a grammar fail. RELAX Popper.”
No. I will not relax. This is not victorious scribe plastered onto a windshield for a tailgate party by a Zima-infused* frat boy. This is an ad campaign–an expensive ad campaign– for a top-ranking M.B.A. program by a UNIVERSITY. Big difference. I’ll write about grammar fails and context another time because that is a topic altogether different.
I know what your thinking. “Cyn– everyone makes typos. YOU make typos in this silly blog, and you’re a writer!”
Yes. That’s true. I do. Because I’m fallible and this is a work/life blog. Mistakes get made. Commas, occasionally, get spliced. But when a client is creating a thousands-of-dollars campaign, and I’m in charge of the copy, it’s a different story. If after a series of rewrites and revisions I’m not sure about a grammar bit or a style choice, I look it up or consult a fellow editor. For large projects I might even bring in a second proofreader. Whatever it takes to make sure that the client’s image is congruent with the branding. That might not even require a “carping grammarian”... but if it does, I become one. (Bonus geek points if you know who came up with “carping grammarian”).
And for an academic client… really. What else can I say? Students pay a huge tuition to ensure they get a good education. Tee hee.
Okay I’m done. ;)
* Does Zima still exist?