The Angry Grammarian

I copyedited the law, and the law won.

By Jeffrey Barg
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Sep. 3, 2008

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When the state of Arkansas started legislating apostrophes (they'll lock you up if you don't write "Arkansas's"), I thought that was as high as the grammar police would go. But no. Bitches gone federal.

American hero Jeff Deck, featured in this column a couple months ago, was sentenced to a year's probation and forced to pay a fine after he and a friend, under the auspices of the Typo Eradication Advancement League, corrected the grammar on a sign considered a National Historic Landmark. The two were on a cross-country trek fixing typos and other errors wherever they found them, and apparently the Grand Canyon and the U.S. District court in Flagstaff didn't look too kindly on their crusade.

"When we formed our effort for going around the country and fixing typos, we did so not with the intention of venting our rage on the populace or anything," he told us in a June interview. "More to raise public awareness and help people out where we could."

The federal government, however, has no interest in helpfulness. If they really wanted to help people, they'd go after not vigilante-grammar-justice types like Deck, but the criminals who bestowed National Historic Landmark status on a sign with bad grammar.

I didn't think Bush's bad grammar had filtered all the way down into the courts, but I guess I misunderestimated him.

An ad for Tropic Thunder listed the three stars as "Black," "Stiller" and "Downey Jr." Isn't the "Jr." unnecessary? It actually modifies the first name (Robert Jr., not Robert Sr.). We don't differentiate between Ben and Jerry Stiller. So why add the "Jr."?

Simple: clarity. How do we know it's not Lewis Black? Or Morton Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. is the only one who's even close to being properly identified, and it's still not enough. As you mention, there's a big difference between Ben and Jerry Stiller. Jerry Stiller's funny.

Robert Downey Jr. in blackface? Grammatical, but not funny. A zombie Morton Downey Jr. in blackface? Grammatical and hilarious.

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1. Bruce said... on Sep 3, 2008 at 01:35PM

“"Bitches gone federal." Or did you mean to say: Bitch's gone federal?”

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