Setting the Record Straight

June 16, 2008

StraightRecord Schoolmarm Lessons: Part III

More Things Grammar Shoulda Told Ya

     Assure, ensure and insure are not interchangeable. Each has a specific meaning that is not anything like the meaning of either of the other two.
Assure means a promise or an oath, a commitment to the statement that follows it. “I assure you we are doing everything we can.”
Ensure is like a guarantee, as making sure something occurs as intended. “You must ensure that this comes off as planned.”
Insure is a commitment your behind will be covered if either of those quotes is a lie. “I’ll insure you against libel, but get it right next time.”

Mind Before Mouth  
     Many of the grammar errors Americans stumble through stem from a failure to speak in complete sentences.
     Now, nobody would want to listen to someone who actually speaks in complete sentences. It would be tedious and nettling, particularly in today’s hurry-up society.
     For instance, would you want to listen to this?
     “I just saw Roger, and he looks younger than I am young.” Hearing “I just saw Roger, and he looks younger than I,” sounds less pedantic, but more often you will hear, “I just saw Roger, and he looks younger than me.”–Incorrect
     Or this: “I can do it better than he can do it,” rather than “I can do it better than he.” More often, you will hear, “I can do better than him.”–Incorrect
     None of us wants to sound pedantic (this current lapse of ours notwithstanding), but what if we thought pedantic and spoke normal? Who but the most illerate among us would say, “me looks young” or “him can do it.” But if we thought in complete sentences and then spoke normally, we wouldn’t make those grammatical mistakes. Try it.


Grammar Key To Communicating

     And here’s an example of why good grammar is important–communicating.
     Take this phrase from a newspaper: “to promote more affordable housing.” As written, the sentence suggests there is not enough affordable housing.
     But if it a hyphen is included  (more-affordable housing) the phrase would mean there is not enough housing that is more affordable than whatever we are comparing it with.
     Two totally different meanings, all because of whether a hyphen is included.
     Yet, because of the decline of the language, we cannot be sure what the author intended even if she or he has used perfect grammar.



     Saying “hopefully” when you mean, “I hope.” If you cannot substitute “I hope” for “hopefully,” you don’t make any sense and are hopelessly lost.

What’s with?

     Saying “That person over there that” as if a person is a thing and not actually a person. The correct way is “That person over there who.”

     Alright? It’s not all right to say alright. Alright isn’t a word.

     It’s for its and vice versa. The former is a contraction for “it is,” the latter a possessive pronoun.




June 9, 2008

Random Musings

Some Random Musings from Veritas
        Some news report mentioned recently that we have 150,000 troops in Iraq. Think of that for a moment. The only things we see on television are small patrols kicking down doors and such. What are 150,000 troops doing? Think of the cities in your state of that size, just to get an idea of the immensity of our military presence in devastated Iraq.
        Every drummer in America seems to have a job. I am talking about the fact nearly every television advertisement, and some of the shows, feature insistent drumming. Consider the “theme” music for CNN’s newscasts: a rhytmic drumbeat with orchestral background in an increasingly frantic theme. Some rock bands may be missing their drummers.
        The Democratic Party is sure to have a debate over its proportional granting of delegates from primaries. Hillary Clinton said that if there were not the proportion system, she would have won the nomination long ago. Winner-takes-all seems a good idea for some things, like tennis matches, but across the nation for choosing pledged delegates to a convention, the proportional system seems fair. Or does it?
        Speaking of tennis, what about the shriek? Some of the best players in modern tennis–Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters come immediately to mind–have adopted a shriek. For a while, opponents objected, but to no avail. The shrieks are of a wondrous variety: Sharapova’s a high-pitched scream of seeming agony; the Williamses’ full-throated roars punctuating every shot; the yell of Dementieva coming close to “Yuh-HOO.” This all started, I theorize, with the little squeak of Chrissie Evert. It grew from there. But Bill Tilden did not need to shriek; Althea Gibson never roared; Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver played without yelling. What changed?
        Some cliches we can do without: Somebody said that at one point in the campaign, Clinton led “in all the important metrics.” “Metrics”? My dictionary does not list “metric” as a noun. But it is a usage popular on Capitol Hill with speakers who forget there is “measure” or “measurement” or “criterion” or “element” or any number of correct words in place of “metric.”
        And while we are being once again a schoolmarm, why does everything have to be “great”? A restaurant tells us on television that it has “great food at great prices.” That may mean just affordable hamburgers. The amusement park promises “a great time with great bargains,” which may mean just affordable fun. By me, “great” should be reserved for really historic items or events. Otherwise we have to look for the next superlative.



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