Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More



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September 4, 2011

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Okay, how about: "Observation of the need for perfect grammar, spelling, punctuation ... was required ..."
After all, the point about using ellipsis is that the words left out but understood are indeed left out, and those who wish to put them in must choose which ones to put in. (Is that a bit like Donald Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns ..? )
And don't try to tell me that the observation in question means watching others do it! It means of course doing it yourself, like observing the law.
I sense the ghost of Cathyem's teacher with that ruler for the knuckles lurking nearby, so I'm going out now.

Pronunciation: aunt

  • November 6, 2013, 5:50am

I am reminded of the elocution lesson in Some like it Hot, set in Hollywood when the 'talkies' came, and the established silent screen star whose name I forget turned out to speak poorly, saying 'I can't' to rhyme with 'ant' and being coached to say it with the long 'au', cahnt. Now why would they make the poor woman do this, if not for a good reason, hey? Well, the studio wanted the public to adore her, so she would have to speak properly, they reckoned. I rest my case. And I ain't American.

Perhaps "Perfect grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax was required at all times" is not ungrammatical, your honour, if it can be regarded as an example of ellipsis, with the subject being "Attention to": 'Attention to perfect grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax was required at all times.' So the singular 'attention' is the subject of the consequently singular verb 'was'. Indeed, attention to/adherence to/respect for are but a sample of the cloud of ideas 'understood' without being stated, thus ellipsis.The subject, being understood, was omitted in the interests of brevity and concision, unlike this argument. That is why, subliminally, 'was' in place of 'were' did its job in this statement rather better than 'were' would have done. I rest my case, your honour.

Resume, resumé, or résumé?

  • November 5, 2013, 5:58am

Craig, you have hit the nail on the head. The acceptance of the incorrect spelling with one accent, which is neither French nor English, is American. The joke is, of course, that it does not feature in the actual document which it describes, as it serves no purpose, does it? Is it the title? I have never made one, nor seen one.

Plural form of anonymous

  • November 5, 2013, 5:51am

Warsaw Will poses the question: ''Disgusted, of Tunbridge Wells". If he and his wife had signed jointly, would they have been "The Disgusteds"? I don't think they would ever have signed jointly for they would not be on speaking terms, being of a sour disposition, and would not collaborate on anything, let alone a letter.
But if they were to do so, they would still be 'disgusted' just as the multiple people involved in the term 'the great unwashed' are not the great 'unwasheds'. As folk have been saying, above, for some years, it's an adjective, not susceptible to pluralising.

“feedback” and “check in”

  • November 5, 2013, 5:30am

Good to hear from you on this, fellow Scotsman. The four linguistic horrors you introduce are - well, you've put your finger on it: designed to irritate.

“feedback” and “check in”

  • November 4, 2013, 8:17pm

What on earth is wrong with calling them commissioning processes? you ask, and I said just now that it reeks of management-speak. This is because, I have worked out, it lacks the word which says what the commissioning is of: programmes. It needs to be 'programme-commissioning processes' ( 'processes' means, I must suppose, procedures. So many malapropisms to decipher with these days!). The hyphen links the participle 'commissioning' with its object: 'programme'. Now the burble-speak is rendered instantly intelligible. And elegant, I judge. I am sure Mr Dimbleby would be proud of me; perhaps even more so of "procedures for commissioning programmes". So that is what on earth was wrong with calling them commissioning processes, I suppose.
I was horrified to hear that a new horror manifested itself today in the House of Commons, the lower house of our British parliament, by no less august a person than the Home Secretary, Theresa May. There is a procedure for letting out, under surveillance of some kind, bad people who were formerly incarcerated, and it is known by some initials which I did not grasp, but she turned them into a made up word which sounded like 'tinkety-tonkies' or something like that. Acronyms make a word, this was not a word so it isn't an acronym. Anyway, she informed the house, a fellow who was under a tinkety-tonky order went into one end of a place and did a runner out of the other end attired in a burka and has disappeared. Vanished into the ether. Gone. Tinkety-tonky didn't help, then. All that is at it may be, but the real worry is, why did she speak to us in code, talking of tinkety-tonkies?
I'll tell you why: it is because management-speak loves acronyms and talking in initials. I don't know why, and I wonder if they do. I endured someone for a bit who at what seemed endless meetings would prate sometimes of something called 'enkities'. This was like tinkety-tonkies: you wondered idly what it might mean, but knew it didn't really matter in the great scheme of things so let it pass. It turned out in the end it meant NQTs but I never could remember what the hell that stood for. It just sounded awfully managerial, so pleasing to those who bandied the term, and those who endured it ignored it, happy in the knowledge that it didn't matter much. "Enkities, you say, boss, jolly good, splendid, carry on!" if allowed to speak, and bothered to do so.
But abbreviations and acronyms to be used in the House of Commons? I have not heard this before in that place, and hope not to again. But I shall tune in as always, alert to the possibility.

(I understand that in the military they communicate in these terms all the time: roads are called *MSRs, for example, and there is a vocabulary list at the beginning of "Bravo Two Zero" about the first Gulf war explaining all these bizarre terms which aid communication.
*Main supply route. Saves time: four letters where 'roads' needs five, you see.)

“feedback” and “check in”

  • November 4, 2013, 6:39pm

Warsaw Will,
not a lot, really, I suppose. It sounds very inelegant, and reeks of management speak.
'Assertionism' isn't in my dictionary, by the way, I am afraid; despite all the professionalism and training undertaken by its team of lexicological trained compilers they didn't let it in, and I laud them for their omission.

“feedback” and “check in”

  • November 4, 2013, 2:54pm

Warsaw Will, I totally agree with you. I must look up assertionism in the dictionary to see if it is there. Now, 'professional', ' team', 'professional' again and 'training', all terms you bandy, alert me to the danger of kowtowing to authority, and my upbringing as a lawyer taught me to question and test all that sort of thing. Question assertions, and dig deeper. Laws are rules, and we look for ways around these rules, dig into the rules, and above all argue with those who make and interpret them. Finally we might agree with them, and pretend we did so all along. Meanwhile if you practise the law on a professional level you do all that and charge a fat fee too. There is an interesting debate going on in England just now about teachers and the need for teachers to have 'training' - many argue that it is important that teachers do not have any such thing, for what they need to be good teachers cannot be taught, and that which they would be taught in the course of such 'training' does not make for good teachers. The government includes a party whose leader attended Westminster School, one of the best in the land, where none of the teachers had been subjected to 'training', yet he is the one who argues that the new 'free' schools' teachers should have this training. The debate rages and it is all quite a laugh. It is suggested that the pro-training lobbyists want rules, and structures to obtain in these establishments and their motive is to win control, and power. I have seen it in action: 'managers' who spend their time drawing up diagrams which show who rules over whom, and salary structures, and who is in charge of what, and they are excited by the idea of overseeing the 'career development' of others. All to do with having and wielding control and power. For me, I have just always thought they are daft, and dull, and pedestrian, and have no place in the world of education.
Now, experience. That is the one we must respect. English? Literature, that is where we must look. Do terms like 'feedback' and 'human resources', other than in connection with organ donation, feature in any form of literature you know? Does Jeeves feedback to Wooster, or indeed give him feedback? That is the place to look for the evidence, Warsaw Will, not in the dictionaries. The dictionaries are no two alike, after all, and the people who put them together are human just like the rest of us.
The things you say about hyphens are very interesting. I used to point out to my pupils the thing about how 'omnibus' became 'bus and finally bus, according to the times in which they were mentioned in the literature. No doubt hyphens and their usage operate the same way. My ravings about check in and check-in are inspired by their being examples of sheer carelessness and lack of proofreading, which is endemic these days. A fellow wrote a letter to the Telegraph the other day moaning that he was "in hoc" to the government to the sum of so much, or some such thing, and the proof-reader didn't bother to put in the customary (sic). So it is splendid that you are so fussed about proofreading and proof-reading and while both these pass muster with my computer's spellcheck (so does 'spellcheck') 'proofreader' doesn't and 'proof reader' does and so does 'proof-reader'. The message is: don't trust the authorities! They are probably lefties and want to control you, because they like power! Work things out for yourself!
Did you see the splendid episode of the comedy 'Frasier' where he instructs his son, who is in the final of a spelling bee, popular in the USA, to "get out there and spell his ass off", with reference to the opponent.
Hey! I wrote all that without looking up anything! Does that make me an assertionist? (Computer spellcheck does not allow this word. I'll look in a dictionary later.)

“feedback” and “check in”

  • November 3, 2013, 5:56pm

If you can hyphenate 'proofread', why not 'check in'? you ask. I say you can read the proof of something, but you do not in your check, rather you check yourself (and your bags, if any,) in. Quite different. Read is the verb bit of proofread, or proof-read, and check is the verb part of check in. Check-in is a noun, I say, and proofread or proof-read is a verb, A noun, and then a verb, both similarly hyphenated, but for different reasons. I agree, proofread as a single word looks fine.

You, WW, go rushing to dictionaries and external 'authorities' to back your arguments. I don't, really, I just make them up as I go along, using my powers of reasoning and my observation of evidence, so that I can still look eventually at a dictionary and consider its suggestions in a critical rather than just accepting way. It's the way I was brought up, you know.