Monday, November 2, 2009

Grammar Gurus and Muphry's Law

Richard's Grammar & Composition Blog
By Richard Nordquist, Guide to Grammar & Composition

Grammar Gurus and Muphry's Law
Friday October 30, 2009

Before commenting (in sorrow or with glee) on the apparent misspelling in today's headline, please read to the end of the post.

Self-appointed guardians of the language go by various titles: grammar gurus, language mavens, usage police. What most have in common is a compulsion to point out the linguistic shortcomings of others and bemoan the sorry state of the English language--whether they know what they're talking about or not.

As Professor David Crystal demonstrates in The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left (Oxford University Press, 2007), such lamentations have been heard since the days of Aelfric the Grammarian, a thousand years ago. In a spirit of "zero tolerance," these crusaders denounce the perceived foibles and infelicities of other English speakers--or "idiots" as they often prefer to call them.

Recently, a columnist for The New York Observer spotted a redundancy in the sports pages of The New York Times: "The Czechs played the way they can; the Americans reverted halfway back toward 1990 when they were drubbed, 5-1." The columnist snarled and pounced:

We all know that the verb "reverted" contains the direction "back" in it. To add "back" is thoroughly redundant. . . . To return is to turn back. Adding the word "back" may appear to solidify your meaning but it only exposes your ignorance.
To which an even more observant reader replied:

Now, we all know that the verb "contains" already contains the meaning "in it." To add "in it," as Phil does, is thoroughly redundant. Adding the phrase "in it" may appear to solidify your meaning but it only exposes your ignorance.
A perfect illustration of Muphry's Law: the principle that any criticism of the speech or writing of others will itself contain at least one error of usage or spelling.

Trust me: anyone who assumes the role of grammar guru better be prepared for nit-picking rejoinders. And now please feel free to comment.

More About Grammar and Usage:

What Is Grammar?
What Is a Snoot?
Language Maven
Image: The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left, by David Crystal. Oxford University Press, 2007

Saturday, August 29, 2009

12 Keys to Greater Self-Awareness
Leading Blog
There is no evidence to suggest that any species of animals other than humans come pre-packaged with a set of mechanisms for self-awareness. The degree to which we develop and use that capacity, in a constructive way, will largely determine our success in life.
Self-awareness is where leadership development begins. Self-management and authenticity flow from self-awareness. Self-awareness can be divided into four parts: what is known to us and others, what is known to others but not by us, what we know and others don’t and what we don’t know and others don’t either. Plumbing the depths of self-awareness takes time and more intensive tactics. However, our biggest gain in self-improvement can be had by finding out what others know that we don’t. And they know more than we think.
Here are twelve keys to greater self-awareness:
Stop blaming others for your choices. It’s you.
Take a personality assessment to help you gain some perspective.
Get feedback from as many significant people in your life as you can. This can be uncomfortable for both you and them, but it is the fastest method for gaining a better picture of yourself. (Make them feel safe. It's a big, unknown risk for them!)
Get a coach or mentor. They don't have to know more than you. They just have to see you in action and help you to be a better you. You're not as hard to figure out (complicated) as you would like to think.
Understand that your biggest irritations look a lot like you.
Look beneath your behavior to reveal your assumptions and filters. They dictate how you see yourself and others and impact how you relate to them.
Look at your roadblocks. Learn to separate facts from your interpretations of them.
A lot of negative interactions signal a selfish approach to life.
Reflect daily on your behavior. Ask questions like: How do I handle difficulties? What do I think or do when I don’t get my own way? How adaptive am I? Can I control my emotions? Do I tend to say what I’m thinking when I’m thinking it? Do I judge other people and create conflict? How do others relate to me?
Organize your thoughts in a journal. It is one of the best ways to capture what is going on around you and inside you. Make a note of the causal remarks people make about you.
Read books and go to seminars that help you rethink your assumptions and address your problem areas and blind spots.
Words mean a lot. Your language reflects your thinking and attitudes.
Your thinking and the behavior that flows from that has brought you to where you are now. You=2 0are in control of developing the thinking and behavior that will take you where you want to go. Self–awareness is difficult. We don’t always like to admit things about ourselves because we don’t like the guilt associated with not doing what we know we should. But admit we must if we are to grow. Ask yourself, “In light of where I come from, what do I need to know about myself?”
Warren Bennis wrote, “It is one of the paradoxes of life that good leaders rise to the top in spite of their weaknesses, while bad leaders rise because of their weakness….We are our own raw material. Only when we know what we are made of and what we want to make of it can we begin our lives—and we must do it despite an unwitting conspiracy of people and events against us.” It is a lifelong and rewarding journey.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Common Sense Dies - London Times

Subject: An Obituary printed in the London Times Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago l ost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault. Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual haras sment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. He declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student, but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home without the burglar suing you for assault. Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot, spilled a little in her lap and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents Truth and Trust, by his wife Discretion, his daughter Responsibility, and his son Reason. He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers: I Know My Rights; I Want It Now; Someone Else Is To Blame; and I'm A Victim.Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


To use pronouns correctly you should review the following:

1. The verb 'to be' in all its forms
2. Prepositions
3. The Three Case Forms of Pronouns

1. Forms of The Verb 'To Be'
be, am, is, are, being, was, were, been

2. Prepositions

A preposition is used with a noun or pronoun in a phrase to indicate time, space or some other relationship.

Examples of prepositions:
about above across after against along among around at before behind below between by despite down during except for from in inside into like near of off on out over past since through till to toward under until up with within without

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