64 Comments

  1. Bill: I was recently dragooned into doing some last minute copy-editing for a friend’s company that was doing a critical presentation, like, yesterday. They had made up a style sheet for preferred usages, and as I quietly digested it, I had a similar reaction (though less justified) to you when I came across that apparently they didn’t use the Oxford comma; they might not use it, but I do, and if I’m doing last minute copy editing for cohesion and coherence, then this document will be using the Oxford comma!
    (Turns out they had had a debate about it and the consensus was to use the Oxford comma after all, they just hadn’t updated the style sheet, so it didn’t even end up being a problem.)

  2. @ WW & larK – I remember reading about a statement made by someone in the White House (decades ago), to the effect that “the increase in the inflation rate was starting to slow down”. The comment was that this was the first time a mathematical “3rd derivative” had made it into a political discussion.

  3. Kilby, it had probably happened earlier as well: it’s a rare politician who won’t take advantage of the opportunity to mislead while not technically lying.

  4. If I were doing this for somebody else’s company, I would condescend to adhere to their Oxford policy.

    But if I’m the boss, I don’t have to care what the old boss liked.

    And likewise, of course, my writers got Oxforded.

  5. Bill: had I been there for the long haul, then yes, I would either have to gird myself for the we-should-use-the-Oxford-comma-and-here’s-why debate, or quietly acquiesce, but since I was there to put the finishing touches for one thing, and one thing only, I felt more along the lines of, “and how are you going to stop me?”

  6. When it comes to judicious emphasis, there is one artist who misfires surprisingly often (in my opinion). I still like “Mutts”, although I was a little disappointed when I discovered that all the text is in a computer font. This is especially obvious when McDonnel decides to put words in bold. Almost every time he does this, the word (or words) he chooses to emphasize don’t seem to be the ones that really need it to make the sentence work.

  7. I can’t say I’ve noticed Mutts in particular, but the misuse of bold in comics is so endemic that I long ago (I mean like at age 8 or something) gave up trying to ascribe any meaning to the randomly bolded words in comics (ie: Marvel and DC) or even Mad Magazine. As far as I can tell, they are merely random decorations. I have tried to read them for emphasis, for irony, for ^%#ing squirrel type punch-line broadcasting, and quickly resolved they were meaningless, and just learned to ignore them. Just like the fact that in comics (eg Uncle Scrooge) every sentence ends in an exclamation point!

  8. @ larK – I first learned about wall-to-wall exclamation points from MAD Magazine. At one point I went through an entire issue, meticulously searching for a line of text that did not end in one.

  9. I’d heard that comic books tend to use exclamation points rather than periods to end sentences because, with the rather fuzzy registration in old-time (at least) comics, a period might get overlooked by a reader, causing some confusion where a sentence ended and a new one began. (Problems of frequent ink bleed, combined with all-capital-letter text, also, famously being why use of the words “flick” and “clint” were supposedly highly discouraged.)

  10. Yeah, that makes perfect sense — try explaining that to 8 year old me, who’s still proud at learning the differences in meaning among the various punctuation marks.

    But now explain the random use of bold…

  11. Are they even teaching grandma, err, grammar any longer in schools? I think today if people spell the words as intended it is a miracle. Even I find myself using cell phone word abbreviations when sending a text to Robert “R U coming down soon?”

    I also know that my grammar has gotten much worse than before (although it was never good according to the grammar check in (not on) the computer. I will leave a lot of participles dangling as writing them correctly can seem a bit “Downton Abbey” in casual postings and writings.

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