Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Delicate Matter of Grammar

I don't want to sound like a school marm, but there's this blog I read sometimes, and I really like it--I like the writer's voice, I like their humility, their humor, their really right-on sense of the academy, and especially of the academy from a humanties prof's point of view. But they continually write a lot as alot. At first I thought it was a typo, but I've since seen it like this in several posts, often multiple times within the same post. I'm not a regular reader, but I stop by every once in a while. I almost want to write a comment and, as nicely and politely as possible, point it out. But I can't, right? I mean, really, I can't.


Blogger La Lecturess said...

I know who you're talking about, because I've virtually stopped reading that blog on the basis of how FUCKING ANNOYING that error is. I, too, considered posting (anonymously) a bitchy correction. Because...yeah. I don't know that it can be done *without* being or seeming bitchy.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude chill out.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Margo, darling said...

I'm not sure who you're telling to chill out, Anastasia, but La Lecturess's tone is pretty close to how my post originally sounded. I worked very hard to be diplomatic as I rewrote it late last night.

It isn't a little thing, this egregious, chronic mispelling, particularly for a *tenured* lit. professor who, of all people, should know this. It's akin to a historian offhandedly talking about the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1774, or a mathematician claiming that 2+2=5.

More than a mispelling, the repetition of this mistake suggests that the blogger thinks alot is a word, and that just doesn't make sense. This person wouldn't write afew, would they?

In terms of common mistakes which make this English teacher's skin crawl, it ranks right up there with writing "their" or "they're" for "there," or "it's" as a possessive.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to say in defense of this raper of the English Language, I made a comment in my blog only this morning that I was disgusted by my spelling and punctuation and could only say it was due to very fast typing and trying to keep up with thoughts... perhaps it's just because of that?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Margo, darling said...

That's what I thought. But it keeps occurring in post after post. Like I said, the biggest shame is that this is a very cool blogger, with interesting things to say.

6:22 PM  
Blogger La Lecturess said...

That's the thing--when I first came across the blog, I read several entries, and frankly, on the basis of the constant "alotting" (and a few other things that seemed tonally off but that I won't go into), I immediately dismissed the blogger, figuring that his/her credentials must be pretty bogus, or that she/he was trying too hard. The presentation just didn't match up with the author's claims for him/herself, and that's something I'm very sensitive to both personally and professionally (some of my work has a performance-studies angle).

But after coming back across the site a few times, I saw stuff that I really liked and that seemed very worthwhile, so I started to revise my opinion; I'm now interested in the blog and its author, but still dissatisfied with it. As Margo says, "alot" is such an egregious, freshman comp error that one has to feel pretty skeptical of an English professor who doesn't know that it's not a word.

We're all responsible for the personae we put out there, yo.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know who you're talking about (I thought I did, but I didn't after all...) but if it was me, I'd sooner someone dropped me an email telling me. As I said, I realised myself that I'd made a load of typos and I was MORTIFIED for the exact reasons La Lecturess has outlined. I'd sooner know...but not in a comment, I'd prefer email.

5:03 AM  
Anonymous allow me to pick apart your grammar said...

you state:
"I like the writer's voice, I like their humility, their humor, their really right-on sense of the academy..."

Writer is not plural, so why is it THEIR humility, ect? Should be his/her. Singular. Not plural.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Margo, darling said...

I went back and forth on that. I know the blogger's gender, but didn't want to use it. His/her seemed awkward and although, yes, their is plural, in order to avoid gender generalizations, it is sometimes used as a nongendered singular. That's what I was taught. But, I agree, it just doesn't sound right.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I don't care about grammar quite the way you all do. That's all.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Duineledia said...

I don't know the blog you're talking about but I'm sure the person in question knows that 'alot' isn't a word. I imagine it's just a mannerism. I'm with Anastasia on this one. My mother is a grammar-nazi. I may even start using 'alot' in my emails to her just to watch the reaction.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Dr. Crazy said...

Oh God, Margo, reading this I had a moment of fear that it was my blog that did that. A quick googling for "alot" on my blog reveals that I am not that person. Whew!

I'm not sure whose blog it is, but I agree an email would be preferable to a comment.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Dr. Crazy said...

Oh, and also, I suppose - some people are just shitty spellers/editors naturally, and so I try to cut people some slack on that stuff. That said, doesn't blogger have a spell-check function? (Even though I tend not to spell-check because it often doesn't recognize real words, I'd think that if I were the sort of person who made the "alot" mistake that I would be a chronic spell-check user.)

9:35 AM  

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