The Angry Grammarian

Nut Hugger.

By Jeffrey Barg
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Oct. 22, 2008

Share this Story:

John McCain may have robbed ACORN of its dignity. But what's worse, the organization has been robbed of its acronym.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has been thrust into the spotlight as McCain has tried to paint the low-income and working-class advocacy group as a godless flag-burning gay Muslim tree-hugging crypto-Marxist terrorist cell. As news outlets finally give the press-starved organization some attention, far too many have reported on "Acorn," lowercasing the hell out of it, disregarding its acronymic roots.

Acronyms get uppercased, John: It's "ACORN." Unlike you, it stands for something.

Please discuss the acceptance of, for instance, "$20 billion" without a hyphen between "$20" and "billion." Surely "$20 billion" is a compound noun and should be spelled "$20-billion." Otherwise it reads: "Twenty dollars billion." If the sum were to be spelled out, it would be: "twenty-billion dollars," the "twenty-billion" being a compound adjective modifying "dollars."

Last week I happened upon a 1961 Gay Talese article from The New York Times. The copyediting was adorable. "Good-by." "Week-end." "70 per cent." Look even further back and you'll find words like "to-day" and "to-morrow" hyphenated. Precious, no?

Point being, we've lost a lot of hyphens. And good riddance to every one of 'em.

You're thinking too hard about this $20 billion. When your brain reads that dollar sign first, it instinctively knows to put it at the end of your number. There's no confusion to begin with. Adding a hyphen only gums up the works.

Even internally, the logic for the hyphen isn't there. Going with your argument, it would read not "twenty dollars billion" but "dollars twenty billion." Which is clearly dumb.

While you're at it, wanna spot a typo? Next time you're reading something, be on the lookout for "$20 billion dollars." I bet you see it within a day. Because while your brain knows to take that dollar sign and spell it out after your figure, all but the keenest proofreading eyes won't realize when doing so doubles your dollars.

Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend


Comments 1 - 1 of 1
Report Violation

1. John Warren said... on Oct 27, 2008 at 02:52PM

“Our beautiful soon to be Vice President Sarah Palin is the best future leader for this nation, not Senator Barak Obama. Our beautiful soon to be Vice President Sarah Palin is also would be better at leading our nation in the future after a McCain Presidency than Senator Barak Obama would be in leading our nation in the future starting in January 2009. There are great reasons our soon to be Vice President Sarah Palin would be a better future leader than Senator Barak Obama. The greatest reason for our soon to be Vice President Sarah Palin's is ideology. Our soon to be Vice President Sarah Palin is conservative in that she is pro life, marriage, guns, low taxes, low government spending, small government, unintrosive government, traditional and judeo Christian values, Bible reading and prayer in our public schools, and military spending.She is also pro free and private enterprize. Senator Barak Obama is a liberal who is anti every thing that I have described that our soon to be Vice President Sarah Palin is pro about or for. A second reason that our soon to be Vice President Sarah Palin is superior is because of experience. As a governor she has two years of executive administrative governing experience that Senator Barak Obama does not have. A final reason that our soon to be Vice President Sarah Palin is superior is because of political accomplishments. When our soon to be Vice President Sarah Palin came to office she accomplished 3 major things which are as follows: she showed great leadership in the 3 following areas: government reform, the state budget and the economy, and wise use of natural resources. She reformed government by standing up to the big oil companies by breaking up the monopoly on power and resources. She insisted on competition and basic fairness which ended the control that the oil companies had on the state, and thereby returning control of the state back to the people. She also stood up to the special interest and lobbyist, and produced major ethics reform. She lead well in the state budget by generating a surplus which came about by vetoing a half billion dollars of wasteful spending, ending the abuses of earmark spending by congress, and by getting rid of the private jet, the chef, and the chuffer. Economically under her leadership she brought about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history. She also suspended the state fuel tax, and when oil and gas prices went up dramatically, and filled up the state treasury, she sent a large share of that revenue back where it belonged - directly to the people of Alaska . On natural resources she has shown great leadership by beginning a nearly forty billion dollar natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence. When the last section of the pipeline is laid and its valves are opened, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart. Senator Barak Obama has done nothing, so please vote John McCain for President and give to our beautiful soon to be Vice President Sarah Palin the opportunity that she deserves leading the nation into the future after a John McCain presidency. When our soon to be Vice President does lead the nation as President after a John McCain presidency,she will be the greatest President that we have ever had. Finally she is smarter than Senator Barak Obama Thank You John Warren”


(HTML and URLs prohibited)