Friday, November 30, 2007
Our life - two or more individuals sharing one life together
Our lives - each individual having his/her own life
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Pat and I were discussing alternatives for the big project and she mentioned Brandy McDougall who's an editor of the 'Oiwi Journals.
I'm sure many of you have already heard of 'Oiwi, but just in case I'm bringing my volume three copy tomorrow. The journal is made up of poems, collages, stories, and drawings from Hawaiian artists. One of my favorite pieces is from 'Imaikalani Kanahele.
There are rainbows here in paradise
reflecting sunlight through drops of water
You know what, bra?
The same thing happen
when sunlight refracts through tears
you get salty rainbows, bra.
A nice sentence, but it's Chris Planas—not the crowd—who has played with the state's musicians.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Hey everyone hope you all had a good long weekend. While I was out singing karaoke with my friends last week I came across something that I wanted to show. Notice that in the warning sign it should read ripped instead of rip and charged instead of charge. Before I took this class I don't think this would have ever bothered me.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I love the Advertiser's Letters and Commentary section. It's like a bad grammar shooting gallery. Here's one from Tuesday:
“It's not about the judgment of Dog or Christian beliefs. It's about a man who puts himself in the public eye and calls himself a readjusted criminal and a role model for our kids. Talks the talk but falls very short of any of the above.”
In the first sentence, “the judgment of Dog” is kind of ambiguous. I'm not really sure whether the author is referring to Dog's sense of judgment or the people's opinions of Dog. I'm also at a loss why Christian beliefs are being judged, or whether they are being judged at all. The second sentence is okay, although putting “readjusted criminal” so close to “role model for our kids” seems somehow... contradictory? And the third sentence is missing its subject. Well, let's see what we can do about this!
“It's not about Christian beliefs or judging Dog; it's about a man in the public eye who calls himself a role model for our kids but falls very short of being one.”
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
And Times Supermarket got lunch. Also, I think we read this in an article that was passed out in class: "You've got mail" is actually incorrect. It should be "You have mail."
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
When the Internet was created, I think those who put it together should have also required its posters to follow two simple rules:
1. Your site/posting can say whatever it wants to, as long as it makes sense.
2. Say what you like, but be sure your thoughts are well put together and your opinions are organized thoughts.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
A Very Passive Murder
by John Vorhaus
The room was walked into by a man by whom strong, handsome features were had. A woman was met by him. The bed was lain upon by her. Then the bed was lain upon by him. Clothing was removed from them both. Sex was had. Climax was achieved. Afterward, cigarettes were smoked by them. Suddenly, the door was opened by the husband of the woman by whom the bed was lain upon. A gun was held by him. Some screams were screamed and angry words exchanged. Jealousy was felt by the man by whom the gun was held. Firing of the gun was done by him. The flying of bullets took place. Impact was felt by bodies. The floor was hit by bodies. Remorse was then felt by the man by whom the gun was held. The gun was turned upon himself.
I think we all let a passive sentence slip in here and there, which is fine; it's normal. But this story really sounds pretty silly, doesn't it? And this is why we avoid the passive voice whenever possible. =P
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Further down in the e-mail exchange, use of the word "impactful" is debated. Brians' common english errors site has an entry about it here. I've heard people say that "impactful" is a legitimate word, but I personally cringe every time I hear it. I specifically remember a KGMB ad that used it, and it really bothered me. :P What do you guys think about it?
There's also a minor reference in the comments to Strongbad's Rhythm 'n' Grammar (but they missed an apostrophe...). I don't know how many of you are Strongbad fans, but that "e-mail" is my favorite. ;)
I think spelling/grammar errors are particularly common in advertisements since the focus is on the product and not on spelling/grammar rules. But that's why they need editors! :D
And here's a random english error of the week pic:
Friday, November 2, 2007
The word "unique" means "one of a kind." There can only be one of that kind. This is an either/or situation; either something is unique or it isn't. It can't be more or less.
That means something can not be very unique or something can not be more unique than something else. It's like being pregnant; either you are or you are not; you can't be just a more or less pregnant than Isobel.
I like to think of the various forms of “to be” as the grammatical equivalent of an equal sign. What appears on one side of it must also appear on the other. If we were to say, “My friend is Mitch,” for example, “my friend” is the subject, and appears in the nominative (subjective) case. But “Mitch” follows a form of the verb “to be,” and so is also nominative, even though it's part of the predicate (hence the term predicate nominative). So we could say that “My friend = Mitch,” and since they're equivalent (both noun phrases are nominative case), the opposite is also true: “Mitch = my friend” or “Mitch is my friend.” This is why we can say something like “He is my friend,” even though we started with “My friend is Mitch.” They're exactly the same sentence. It's also the reason why odd-sounding things like “My friend is he” or “It is I” are grammatical, even though they sound awkward. Since the noun phrases are equivalent in terms of case, you can flip them. And when you do, "I am it" sounds perfectly fine, right?
So why does “Woe is me” exist? Shouldn't it be “Woe am I”? I don't think you'd ever catch anyone saying, "Me is woe."
Thursday, November 1, 2007
1) Short works and parts of long works are usually in quotation marks (see site for some examples).
2) Long works and collections of short works are usually underlined or put in italics (see site for some examples).
3) Traditional religious works that are foundational to a religious group or culture are capitalized, but not italicized or underlined. For instance, note the Torah, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Vedas [no italics or quotation marks].
4) Visual artwork, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, mixed media, and whatnot, is underlined or italicized, never put in quotation marks. Thus, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Rodin’s The Thinker both get underlined or italicized.
5) The one exception to this policy is the title of your own student essay at the top of the first page. You do not need to underline your own title of put in quotation marks.
I hope this helps.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
"Trips on cruise ships often appeal to the elderly, which was the case in one of the deaths," Ishikawa said.
Obviously, newswriters can't edit quotes, but if you were Ishikawa, what would you have wanted to say instead, retrospectively? haha.
I'm also pretty sure that this Sheehan guy would want to take back his "cancer issues" phrase here:
In addition, a 40-year-old woman who had "cancer issues" also died at sea while the ship was en route to Hawaii from San Diego, Sheehan said
Thursday, October 25, 2007
When “awhile” is spelled as a single word, it is an adverb meaning “for a time."
So you would say:
"My Prince Charming was bored with me awhile."
But when “while” is the object of a prepositional phrase the “while” must be separated from the “a.”
Then you would say:
"Did you have Prince Charming's CD for a while or only after you broke up?"
The site also makes not that if the preposition “for” were lacking in this sentence, “awhile” could be used in this way:
"Did you have Prince Charming's CD awhile?"
Hawaii ranked as top state to avoid collision with deer
Incidentally, we are also ranked as the top state to avoid snakebites, frostbite, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Okay, I just made that up. :P But come on!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
“As a disabled person in a wheelchair with a converted van, has anyone given any thought to the value the Superferry can bring? If we wanted to travel to Maui or Kaua'i for business or vacation, we would have a very costly trip renting a travel wheelchair so that it can fit in a regular van. We are a family of six.”
The introductory phrase that starts off the first sentence is—you know, this one is so out there I'm not even sure it's a misplaced modifier. It actually feels like it's part of a completely separate sentence. Pronouns are a mess throughout. Oh, and the independent clause in the second sentence seems to imply that the author and his family are going on an expensive trip in order to rent a wheelchair. And I'm not sure why “it can fit in a regular van” is set up with a subordinating conjunction. I think the author meant it to be a restrictive clause modifying “travel wheelchair.” Also, does mentioning that his is a family of six add anything useful to the mix?
Well, let's see what we can do...
“Has anyone given thought to the benefits the Superferry could bring about? I am wheelchair-bound and own a van converted to accommodate my disability. If I wanted to travel to Maui or Kaua'i now, I would have to pay the added cost of renting a travel wheelchair that can fit in a regular van.”
Picture #1: Las Palmas restaurant sign
"Mexican Cousine." I did a quick google search for "cousine," and nothing about food came up, so I'm ruling out the possibility of it being an alternate spelling or foreign spelling of "cuisine."
"Catering for all occasion's." "Occasions" here is plural and not possessive, so there shouldn't be an apostrophe.
Picture #2: Dorm shuttle sign
"If you would like to get off at the next stop ,please inform me the driver or stand up when approaching the stop that you would like to get off"
First of all, there are punctuation problems: the space and the first comma should be switched, and the "sentence" should end with a period. "Me, the driver" is an appositive, so I'm pretty sure it needs a comma.
Second of all, I think the meaning of the sentence gets lost somewhere along the way, particularly at the end. Here is my revised version:
"Please inform the driver or stand up when the shuttle is approaching the stop you would like to get off at."
Although I don't think it's usually a good idea to end a sentence with a preposition. But this site says you should only drop the preposition at the end of a sentence if the meaning isn't changed. And in this case, I think the "at" is very necessary, since "get off" can have an entirely different meaning. :o
I'm thinking that in order to avoid the awkward construction, it might be better to rephrase it like this:
"Please inform the driver or stand up when the shuttle is approaching your stop."
Suggestions? Ideas? Rotten Tomatoes? :D
If I were to change the question, I would change it to ask “how” satisfied the customer was. If I asked how satisfied the customer was, then that question would better complement the responses next to the check boxes.
So without further ado, I believe that the Curry House should have asked, “How satisfied were you with our service today? Please check one of the boxes below.” To me, that question sounds better. I don’t know. What do you guys think?
Friday, October 19, 2007
Looks like I'm the caboose this week! Sorry so late! Here's a sentence I found in the Honolulu Advertiser regarding yesterday's scrimmage after the boys had their "mock draft." I think maybe the author could have been more clear about his point. At any rate, here's the sentence:
"The deal was finalized a minute before the game's start, further evidence that practice isn't always essential."
I would probably break it up into two sentences and say:
"The deal was finalized a minute before the game's start. This quick decision making was further evidence that practice isn't always essential."
However, I'm still not sure what the author was trying to say?
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The imperative mood is used for commands, for example, "Give me money!" Sentences like this used to irritate me to no end, because I could never figure out how the sentence was grammatical. There's no subject! Just a verb and some objects. None of my pre-high school teachers could ever explain why this worked the way it did, and I had more or less given up on it by ninth grade, having filed it alongside Nessie and Big Foot in the unsolvables drawer in my head.
But the answer is really, really simple. There is a subject! That subject is "you." The sentence we're really saying is, "You, give me money!" or "You, wash the car!" or "You, make Mitch shut up!" But as we're all so very lazy that we drop the "you," so that when we say something in the imperative mood, it's just implied.
From Hawaii school honoring Iraq war vet grad:
Not only did she rebound from her injuries, she started to speak out for wounded servicemen, for veterans, for people who can't afford proper healthcare.
I'm pretty sure that the last item in that series needs an "and," and I personally like to hear "not only" paired with "but also," but I'm not sure if that's always necessary. I also don't think all of those "for"s are necessary. My version of the edited sentence would be,
"Not only did she rebound from her injuries, but she also started to speak out for wounded servicemen, veterans, and people who can't afford proper healthcare."
I also don't know if "servicemen" is considered too gender-biased. Would it be more PC to say "servicepeople" or "military officers?"
From Hawaii Superferry bill shields state on liability:
The Lingle administration would impose operating conditions on the Superferry to — at a minimum — protect whales and other marine mammals, prevent the spread of invasive species, and preserve cultural and natural resources. The administration should also consider placing state agricultural inspectors and conservation enforcement officers on each ferry voyage.
It seems like the second sentence should be reworded. As it stands, it sounds to me like the writer is stating a personal opinion: "The administration should..." I also don't think that the inspectors and officers are being placed on a "ferry voyage," since the voyage isn't really a location, and I don't think they would actually be placed on the ferry, either. Here's my revised version of the second sentence.
"The administration may also require that state agriculture inspectors and conservation enforcement officers are placed at each docking area for all voyages."
These are just my versions, so please let me know if you catch something else that needs editing or if you have any other suggestions. :)
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
• Capitalize all nouns, verbs (including is and other forms of to be), adverbs (including than and when), adjectives (including this and that), and pronouns (including its).
• Always capitalize the first and last words, regardless of their part of speech ("The Text to Look For").
• Capitalize prepositions that are part of a verb phrase ("Backing Up Your Disk").
• Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the) unless an article is the first word in the title.
• Do not capitalize coordinate conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or).
• Do not capitalize prepositions of four or fewer letters.
• Do not capitalize to in an infinitive phrase ("How to Format Your Hard Disk").
• Capitalize the second word in compound words if it is a noun or proper adjective or the words have equal weight (Cross-Reference, Pre-Microsoft Software, Read/Write Access, Run-Time). Do not capitalize the second word if it is another part of speech or a participle modifying the first word (How-to, Take-off).
• In table column headings, capitalize only the first word of each column heading.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
There are several kinds of errors in this exercise:
A few of you seem to have trouble distinguishing among the different kinds of errors. I've therefore listed them by sentence:
Sentence 1: spelling and typographical errors
Sentence 2: grammatical and punctuation errors
Sentences 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8: grammatical errors (subject-verb, pronoun-antecedent, vague antecedent, dangling participles, shift in person, shift in verb tense)
Sentences 9, 10, 11, 12: punctuation errors
Sentence 13: grammatical error (faulty parallelism)
Sentences 14, 15, 16: stylistic error (wordiness, redundancy)
Sentences 17, 18: grammatical error (smothered verbs, use of passive voice)
Sentence 19: stylistic error (lapse in diction, use of slang)
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Hi guys, here's a sentence that actually would've appeared as part of a Linguistics course description in next semester's catalog, except I caught it and fixed it up on the sly (shhh!). My eventual solution was to cut it entirely, but here it is:
"Of the other varieties, Caviteno (and perhaps Ternateno), spoken on Luzon south of Manila, in the areas of Cavite and Ternate, still have some life, although they are certainly endangered."
After I finished tripping over all commas, my first question was, “The other varieties of what?” Languages? Dialects? Jargons? It's not stated here, and I wasn't able to glean it by context from surrounding sentences. “Spoken on Luzon south of Manila” needs a comma in the middle of it, since I'm pretty sure that “south of Manila” is in apposition to “Luzon.” Also, the way the sentence is written, I think “have” and “they are” should really be “has” and “it is.” I'm pretty sure that “Ternateno,” being parenthetical, doesn't actually count as a compound subject; the subject is the singular “Caviteno,” as opposed to the plural “Caviteno and Ternateno.” I can't actually find a rule about parenthetical stuffs to back me up here, so if anyone knows, please post a comment!
If I had to rewrite it, it would look like this:
Of the other dialects, Caviteno and (perhaps) Ternateno—both spoken on Luzon, south of Manila, in Cavite and Ternate respectively—still have some life, although they are certainly endangered.
I tried to keep the changes minimal, but I hope it reads a bit more smoothly now.
Now how much (just kidding…many) of you knew about that? See you all in class on Friday!
For instance, is it better to say
I need to pick up my parents from the airport.
I need to pick my parents up from the airport.?
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
A normal weekend is rarely enough time to do anything but yard work, attend two or three soccer games and a practice, and then surf.
And here's my attempt to even things out:
On a normal weekend, there's rarely enough time to do yard work, attend soccer games (plus a practice), and surf.
I tried to make my revisions without changing the author's voice. Hope I made the grade! :)
Sunday, October 7, 2007
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours?
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Friday, October 5, 2007
She didn't give me a good enough answers to warrant me getting that car for her. I denied her request with an advice. I told her that had she first explained to me why she needed a car per good reason and impressed on me a flash of willingness to work to contribute to this car (sense of responsibility) before finally asking for it, I would probably have considered it much more. So she did it. To our parents. She got her car, but she still hasn't tried to get a job.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
This survey will help us better understand the engagement of students in activities on campus.
My version would be "This survey will give us a better understanding of the activities students are participating in on campus."
We value your opinions and look forward to your participation in the on-coming survey.
I think they meant "upcoming." "Oncoming," which shouldn't be hyphenated, makes me think the survey is going to hit me head-on at 25 MPH because I'm on the wrong side of the road. :P
Again, mahalo for being such good hosts to our guests over these past several days and for enabling this event to be a success for them, for our campus, and for our Islands.
"Enabling" sounds strange to me in this context, so I think I would say something like "...over these past several days and for making this event so successful for our campus..." I also don't think "Islands" should be capitalized, and to be honest, I don't really see how hosting Toyota at UH benefits Kauai, Maui, or the Big Island, so I would have just left that out altogether.
"Hawaii Superferry risk to whales raised in 2005"
What was raised in 2005, the risk or the whales?
Anywho, as I continued with the article I found this sentence that seemed to suffer from "wordiness."
The policy provides an alternate winter route from Honolulu to Kahului that travels north of Moloka'i, instead of the usual route between Moloka'i and Maui within the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
Taking a stab at revising it, I would probably simplify it as such:
During winter months, fairies will travel a longer route north of Moloka'i from Honolulu to Kahului so as to avoid the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National marine Sanctuary.
I would also move it to the introduction where the policy is first introduced.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Okay, these have popped up in the blog before, but I don't think they were fully explained. We're all familiar with personal pronouns: I, me, my, he, she, it, etc. Relative pronouns are who, whom, whose, which, and that. They stand in for nouns or for noun phrases much in the same way that personal pronouns do, but there is one major difference. Take a look at this sentence, for example: “I ate a radioactive isotope, which turned me into the Hulk.”
What you're really saying is, “I ate a radioactive isotope. A radioactive isotope turned me into the Hulk.” However, the relative pronoun “which” is taking the place of that second, underlined “a radioactive isotope.” Relative pronouns, then, go a step beyond personal pronouns because they not only replace a noun phrase, but they relate (hence the term “relative pronoun”) two otherwise separate clauses.
The newly-dependent clause, “which turned me into the Hulk,” is what's called a relative clause. These come in two flavors: restrictive and nonrestrictive (or essential and nonessential). As such, they're governed by the same rules as all restrictive and nonrestrictive phrases in regards to the usage of commas, which you can check out in Jen's and Chan's posts on Sept. 27th.
Good luck with the test, guys!
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
From the Smithsonian catalog, a description of something called Rolling Old World Serving Cart: "Clad in a superb reproduction 16th century map, evocative of map prints and drawings in our Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, guests will delight in its unexpected second role as beverage trolley."
From the Art Institute of Chicago catalog, a description of a book called Piazza: Italy's Heart and Soul: "Gold metal winner of the 2007 Independent Publishers Book Awards, this impassioned brainchild of Joe Bauwens and Marybeth Flower examines the hub of the Italian cultural experience: the piazza."
In the first case, the "clad" clause is a dangling modifier—the writer obviously didn't mean to say that guests would be clad in a map—and its has no antecedent. In the second case, gold metal should be gold medal.
My guess is that the writer of the first sentence doesn't know his or her grammar. The error in the second sentence is a typographical mistake that wasn't caught in proofreading. In publishing, good proofreading is valued as much as good copyediting, and this sentence helps us see why.
Friday, September 28, 2007
I used to watch foreign films, some of which had English subtitles at the bottom of the screen. It was nearly 10 years ago, but I still remember this puzzling moment: The scene took place in the days of French Revolution. A warrior called out loudly to open the gate into the city. The gate keeper replied by asking for the warrior to identify himself. The warrior replied, "It is I, so-and-so." It is I...? Why? I thought it was, "It's me." I don't remember the title of the movie or anything else before or after that scene. Thinking that my French teacher must know grammar since she knowa French, I asked her why. SHe didn't know. My English teacher didn't know either!! Internet was just starting up then so it wasn't a readily available source yet. I started college the following year, and it was then that I finally solved the problem. Pronoun takes an object case after a verb but not when the verb is a to be verb. So it makes sense when we say, "This is she" on the phone. Mystery was solved!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I *think* the sentence is fine with the commas*, but I'm not the resident expert here or anything, that's for sure. haha
I think your AP teacher was right in telling you that rule when it comes to "commas that enclose," according to my Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers, 6th edition (That comma is there because it's written by two people, apparently. haha). Here are some examples:
Commas that mark nonessential (nonrestrictive) modifiers
Neil Armstrong, who was born in a small Ohio town, was the first human to walk on the moon.
Commas that enclose nonessential (nonrestrictive) appositives
George Washington, the first President of the United States, served two full terms.
But I think the sentence in the article is primarily using a comma to "link" (again, I'm referencing the SFHW) the two independent clauses.
[Jason] faced a lot of criticism, but ...[he] used it to his advantage.
I eliminated the "instead of dwelling in the negative" in the second part of that sentence because I think it uses a comma for a different purpose there.
The book calls the second usage "commas after introductory subordinate clauses," which can be signaled by words like although, if, when, because, as, after, before, since, unless, and while. I think you can also call that a dependent clause.
I like to think of it as needing a comma because the order of the parts in the sentence is reversed.
Jason used [criticism] to his advantage instead of dwelling in the negative.
Instead of dwelling in the negative, Jason used [criticism] to his advantage.
So I think the sentence in the article is using each of those commas in different ways — first linking, then introducing — so it ends up looking like "commas that enclose," where you would take out the portion of the sentence bracketed by the commas to see if it stands alone as a complete sentence.
But again, big asterisk here!
* I didn't take Modern English Grammar from someone who wanted to teach grammar, so I don't really know all the rules. :-\
"He faced a lot of criticism, but instead of dwelling in the negative, Jason used it to his advantage."
The reason for my confusion was mainly due to the fact that I was unsure of the author's comma use. Is this an error? My high school AP English teacher told me that the easiest way to figure out if there should be a comma is to take out the portion of the sentence bracketed by the commas and read it again to see if it could stand alone:
"He faced a lot of criticism, Jason used it to his advantage."
Hah? That's not right. Perhaps I was ill-advised or perhaps, like we've recently learned, this is just a stylistic issue. I have to say that I would definitely have left the comma out.
Lewis wrote about the idea of not having to pay for Univeristy of Hawaii road games. Having watched UH football for over ten years, I simply can't fathom having to shell out sixty bucks to watch Hawaii play some crappy team.
The sentence that I want to change reads, "That's both good news and an idea whose time has come for those who shoulder the brunt of underwriting Warriors football and, by extension, much of the 19-sport UH athletic program.
This is what I would write, "University of Hawaii sports enthusiasts can breathe a sigh of relief now that future road games could possibly make it to free televison."
I decided to change the sentence because upon first read I was like "huh?" I understand what he is trying to say but the use of underwriting may confuse those who don't understand the meaning. I just condensed everything to make it easier to read. I should stop picking on Lewis or maybe I should just stop reading the sports page.
So I think my version would be "As a courtesy to others, please keep your music at a reasonable volume." But maybe that sounds kind of awkward, too. :P
I also have some pictures from my personal collection to share here and here. If anyone needs something to blog about, feel free to use those. ;)
And finally, here is another amusing link: The Grammar Whores LJ Community
Obviously aside from being amusing, these sites can teach you a lot about correct English usage.
I'm actually beginning to enjoy editing these sentences. Here's one I stumbled through last Thursday in The Honolulu Advertiser: “This constant misreporting works to confuse people trying to understand the scope of the homeless problem and effective and practical solutions—one of which the “homeless ship” is not.”
First of all, the misreporting doesn't work to do anything, and it requires a complementary infinitive to make sense—needless clutter. It would be more accurate (and more concise) to say that misreporting confuses people. Next, there are way too many “ands” here. We can eliminate one by getting rid of the word “effective” or the word “practical,” since either one is a precondition to the other. Finally, we come to my favorite part, the clause after the em-dash. Here's a simple test you can use to judge whether a sentence needs revision: if it sounds like something Yoda would say, rewrite it.
Normal English: subject, verb, object (he is a Jedi; the “homeless ship” is not one of [them])
Master Yoda: object, subject, verb (a Jedi, he is; one of which, the “homeless ship” is not)
So, with some rewriting, we've got a pair of sentences: "This constant misreporting confuses people who are trying to understand the scope of the homeless problem and practical solutions to it. The “homeless ship” is not such a solution."
One thing I'm not really sure of is whether there's a problem with "and" in the first sentence, and which two noun phrases it's joining: "people who...homeless problem" and "practical solutions to it," or "the scope of the homeless problem" and "practical solutions to it." Suggestions, anyone? =\
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
My boyfriend pointed out to me that although they used "Asian" to describe Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, etc., they used "white" to describe those of European descent. I think they should have used "Caucasian" instead of "white" to be more consistent and to be more politically correct.
The AP Stylebook (2005) had this to say about Nationalities and Races:
Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, tribes, etc.: Arab, Arabic, African, American, Caucasian, Cherokee, Chinese (both singular and plural), Eskimo (plural Eskimos), French Canadian, Gypsy (Gypsies), Japanese (singular and plural), Jew, Jewish, Latin, Negro (Negroes), Nordic, Sioux, Swede, etc.
Lowercase black (noun or adjective), white, red, mulatto, etc.
Further down in the article, there are several tables (like this one) that use "Black" to describe African Americans.
I also didn't understand why the first table (shown below) was included in the article, since it uses the same data from the last table, but excludes "Blacks," and "American Indian and Alaska Native alone."
Race is a difficult issue to deal with in printed media. It seems like the politically correct terms are always changing, and opinions about which terms are considered derrogatory vary from person to person.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Question: What is the correct spelling of that word?
Thursday, September 20, 2007
In this week’s assignment, I came across some problems with sentences that dealt with relative pronouns (who, which, that). According to Technical Editing (Fourth Edition), who refers to persons; which and that refers to things. For example, it would be preferable to say, “The people who came to the meeting brought tape recorders,” rather than “The people that came...”
See you all in class.
Somehow, neither seemed correct and thus this blog was born.
According to this website, it's a common error in the English language.
When it comes to suppose vs. supposed, Brian's Common Englihs Errors says: "Because the D and the T are blended into a single consonant when this phrase is pronounced, many writers are unaware that the D is even present and omit it in writing. You’re supposed to get this one right if you want to earn the respect of your readers."
Thus, I should have said: "I'm supposed to take my grandma to Sam's Club."
The sentence reads, "A refreshing outlook to be sure and not your everyday sound bites in this day and age as headlines frequently remind us."
If I was writing the article I would've written it like this, "Brennan's insights provides a refreshing outlook unlike the daily sound bites that frequent the headlines.
I thought that Lewis used too many words in the sentence and could have tightened it up. Since he used everyday I think day and age should've been excluded. Thanks for reading.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
If seeking written permission to post grades by partial UH Number, student's who decline to have their grades posted must be provided with a reasonable means for receiving his/her grade.
I don't know whether this is the worst sentence of 2007 (Miss Teen South Carolina may have something to say about that), but it is pretty bad. That first, dependent clause looks like it's missing its entire subject. Who is seeking permission? We don't know, and the main clause doesn't tell us. I'm not even sure these clauses are related—where does the permission come from, the student or an unnamed source? I'm going to assume that the author meant instructors must seek permission from students.
Moving along, “UH Number” is vague, since UH utilizes many different kinds of numbers. Of course it's possible that the author could be referring to one very specific type, since “Number” has been capitalized to make it a proper noun, but I doubt it. We can probably assume that the author meant UH Student ID numbers. Moving along, “student's” is possessive for no good reason, and pronouns shift from being plural to singular because...I have no idea. Oh and also, where are the grades being posted to? I'm just going to leave this to context, but I think if this sentence was meant to stand on its own, this would be a valid question. So, let's see if we can fix this up!
Here's my attempt at fixing it: “Instructors seeking to post grades by partial student identification number must obtain written permission from their students and provide a reasonable means of distributing grades to those who decline.”
Students can give their instructors written consent to have their grades posted by partial UH number. Students who decline to have their grades posted must be given a reasonable means for receiving their grade.
If seeking written permission to post grades by partial UH Number, student's who decline to have their grades posted must be provided with a reasonable means for receiving his/her grade.
As the "sentence" was, I couldn't tell who was seeking permission and from whom that person was seeking it, so I defined the subject as students giving consent to their instructors. I chose "consent" because it seemed clearer to me than "permission" for some reason.
I also changed the pronoun for "students" from "his/her" to "their" since "students" is plural. And obviously the apostrophe in "students" is incorrect since it's plural and not possessive.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
If seeking written permission to post grades by partial UH Number, student's who decline to have their grades posted must be provided with a reasonable means for receiving his/her grade.
If you are wondering what you might write about this week, please consider saying something about this sentence.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Please do the following:
1. post a question or comment by Wednesday so that I can reply before
class on Friday;
2. read everything posted by your classmates by the start of class.
I may bring these things up in class and include them in your tests, so
it's important to keep up. Here are examples of things you can post:
• Choose a sentence from the newspaper article that you thought was
especially bad. Analyze what's wrong with it and state how you would
• Choose a term from your homework and give the definition you found in
a grammar book; then compose a sentence that illustrates the term. For
example, you might choose the term "misplaced modifier" and give this
sentence as an example of it: "Running for the bus, my shoelaces became
Be sure to contact me if you have any questions, and please remember
that your grade depends in part on your participation in the blog.
Do you ever find yourself wondering, "Is it Lisa and me or is it Lisa and I?"
I've always had a hard time with pronoun case, so I decided to look it up in my Bedford Handbook by Diana Hacker. These are a list of rules that help me remember which pronoun case to use:
- Compound word groups
- Mentally strip away the rest of the compound word group.
- While diving for pearls, [Donald and] she found a treasure chest.
- The most traumatic experience for [her father and] me was the accident.
- Pronoun after is, are, was, or were
- Remember to use the subjective-case pronouns I, he, she, we, and they, after the linking verbs is, are, was, and were.
- The panel was shocked to learn that the undercover agent was she.
- Mentally strip away the word group that the appositive renames.
- [The chief strategists], Dr. Brown and I, could not agree on a plan.
- The company could afford to send only [one of two workers], Dr. Davis or me.
- Pronoun after than or as
- Mentally complete the sentence.
- The supervisor claimed that she was more experienced than I [was].
- Gloria admitted that she liked Greg’s brother better than [she liked] him.
- We or us before a noun
- Mentally delete the noun
- We [women] really have come a long way.
- Sadly, discrimination against us [women] occurs in most cultures.
- Pronoun before or after an infinitive
- Remember that both subjects and objects of infinitives take the objective case.
- Ms. Wilson asked John and me to drive the senator and her to the airport.
- Pronoun or noun before a gerund
- Remember to use the possessive case when a pronoun modifies a gerund.
- There is only a small chance of his bleeding excessively during this procedure.
And here's a handy little table, too. :)
|subjective case||objective case||possessive case|
|he / she / it||him / her / it||his / her / its|
In short, when you're confused about a sentence like,
"Geoffrey went with my family and ( me / I ) to Aloha Stadium."
you just take out the part that makes the subject complicated, which, in this case, is "my family and." So what you have left is
"Geoffrey went with ... me to Aloha Stadium."
You wouldn't say "Geoffrey went with I to Aloha Stadium" because it sounds funny. But sometimes when you throw in other things in the middle like, "my family and," it gets confusing and it makes it hard to choose the correct pronoun case.
Although this explanation only really covers the first rule, which is to mentally strip away the rest of the compound word group, the rest of the rules are demonstrated in the example sentences, so you guys can check those out. :) I think the first one though is the one that I found easiest to fix by just taking out the confusing parts.
Hope this helps you guys, too! :)
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I was killing time online today, and no less than five people I chatted with mixed up the word “affect” with “effect,” or vice versa. Even some grammatically competent people I know have trouble with this one, so here are a few tips you can use, even if it's only to humiliate your friends. Both words have noun and verb forms, so that's not always a dead giveaway. But most of the time you hear them, “affect” will be used as a verb, while “effect” will be used as a noun.
Affect: as a verb, to affect something is to change it. Here's an example: “Britney's VMA performance affected my ability to watch the rest of the show.” As a noun, it's usually used in psychology.
Effect: in it's less common use as a verb, it means “to make [something] happen”. For example, “Americans were able to effect a change in tax laws.” As a noun, an effect is a result.
Remember: When you affect something, you have an effect on it.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Friday, September 7, 2007
I came across this sentence in one of Kaplan's SAT writing workbooks. I chuckled at first but then was reminded of the creepy girl doll in the movie Chucky's Bride. This was an error of misplaced modifier. By placing the present participial phrase after the doll, the writer inadvertantly implied that the doll was playing under the swing.
Here's an example:
I lay on the beach for two hours yesterday.
It's a common mistake to say "I laid on the beach." Laid is the past tense form of the transitive verb lay, which means to beat or strike down with force. Using the word lay is the past tense form of lie. Lie in this context means to be or to stay at rest in a horizontal position.
Make sense? I had a little bit difficulty in understanding myself.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
In Hawaiian you would say-
He nui ka i'a.
Translation: The fish is big.
Taking into consideration that
It's clear to see that the rough translation of this sentence is-
Big the fish.
Which in "pidgin" you would say-
Big da waves, little da fish, etc.
Air: The elastic, mixture of gases that surrounds the earth.
Err: To be wrong or mistaken
Heir: A person who inherits or is legally entitled to inherit, through the natural action of the law, another's property or title upon the other's death.
So as you can see these are three similar sounding words but all three have different spelling and meanings. There are so many other words in the english language that are like this so it can get confusing at times.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
After doing homework problem #18, I realized that I still have trouble distinguishing between active and passive voices. If anyone else felt the same way, I hope this passage will help. According to CliffsStudySolver™ English Grammar, voice is the form of a verb that indicates whether the subject is doing the action of the verb or receiving the action of the verb. In active voice, the subject does the action of the verb.
Subject + verb + object. = Doer of action + verb + receiver of action.
Yun caught the ball.
Karen fixed the problem.
In passive voice, the active subject and direct object change places, and the subject receives the action of the verb.
Subject + verb by object. = Receiver of action + verb by doer of action.
The ball was caught by Yun.
The problem was fixed by Karen.
Monday, September 3, 2007
I was just chatting with my friend on IM, and I was telling him that the Arizona green tea in the 1.24 Liter bottles is on sale at Safeway through Tuesday and that there is no limit on how many you can buy. I then told him that there are many pallets left at the Mililani location if he wants to buy tons like I did (I bought an entire box).
As I typed that, I thought, "How do you spell that, anyway? Is it pallettes? Palates?" So I did a google search for it and came upon one of my favorite sites, which is also listed under the References links on this Edit Hawaii blog: Brians' Common English Errors. According to Brians,
Your “palate” is the roof of your mouth, and by extension, your sense of taste. A “palette” is the flat board an artist mixes paint on (or by extension, a range of colors). A “pallet” is either a bed (now rare) or a flat platform onto which goods are loaded.
Has anyone else been feeling really paranoid / inadequate about their spelling, lately? Those quizzes were brutal. :P haha, man...
Thursday, August 30, 2007
"Which is more fatal, an ant bite or falling off a cliff?" That's wrong right?
So how about "Which is fatal, an ant bite or falling off a cliff?"
Take the headline, for instance, which is probably not the writer's doing, but anyway..."Dance pop mega-star Stefani thrills younger fans" ... Dance pop mega-star. It doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it? I wasn't too crazy about the lede, either:
Add this to the list of things you don't see in Hawai'i everyday: A 37-year-old girl from Orange County, Calif., with dyed platinum blond hair leading a sold-out Blaisdell Arena crowd in the chant, "This (expletive) is bananas ... b-a-n-a-n-a-s!"
Sure, it paints a picture, but my first image is of Gwen Stefani tossing her hair around back and forth to lead a crowd in chant like an orchestra conductor, until I realize that the subject of the sentence is supposed to be the 37-year-old "girl" and not her hair. Although maybe I'm just being overly picky.
But the real zinger for me was the closing sentence, which I think should definitely be paid special attention, since it is a feature story and not a news story: "Until she returns to Hawai'i with No Doubt — writer crosses his fingers here — this would have to do."
First of all, the verb tense is not consistent. Until she returns, this will have to do. Second of all, since the "writer" consistently uses "I" throughout the article, why suddenly switch to the third person? It makes it seem like he's got some kind of split personality disorder. And I don't even think I would keep the random interjection there in the first place. It only tells me, the reader, that this writer seems to be a Stefani fanboy, although he spends the majority of the second half of the article criticizing aspects of her performance.
And why does he use the word "culled" twice in the article? Did his friend give him a 365 SAT Words page-a-day calendar for Christmas or something?
Anyway, so those are the things that particularly bothered me in this article.
Oh, and this is entirely unrelated, but why the heck do the articles in Advertiser's website always have random title tags that don't match the article? They seem to change from day to day, too, so that when you bookmark them, you get one random title as the default bookmark name, and then when you access the URL later, it's a completely different, yet still incorrect, title. For instance, when I bookmarked this article, the title tag (seen at the top of your browser window) was, "Bill would violate Constitution, create dangerous division", and now it says, "Okinawan culture taking center stage" (don't you love the random capitalization, too?). My guess is that by the time you guys click on the article, it'll be an entirely different title.
Man I wish they'd hire me for their web team. ;)
ETA: I only realized now that in the lede where it says, "Add this to the list of things you don't see in Hawai'i everyday...", it says everyday and not every *space* day. I guess it was a crash and burn from the beginning, huh? Haha, I'm only kidding. But that is another error. :P
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Hello, everyone. This is a quote from a short editorial in Tuesday's Advertiser titled Many helped in effort to fight Wailua fire: “This dynamic fire evolved daily, and was fueled by dry and windy conditions, which created havoc and dangerous conditions for firefighters and threatened nearby homes. In the end, residential areas were protected, the fire was contained and injuries were minimized.” I see a number of problems here, beginning with the adjective “dynamic”. Does anyone really think of a wildfire as being static? Probably not, so there's no need to remind us that it isn't. Havoc is similarly inherent to wildfires, and--in my opinion--the term is a bit too general to warrant being used in an article without some further description or quantification (e.g. “the fire caused such havoc that even Godzilla was trampled while trying to escape”). To finish the first sentence off, there are four “ands” in the sentence, and the word “conditions” occurs twice in rapid succession. Thankfully the second sentence is a lot better, but I'd still switch around the order of the clauses to give them a more logical sense of progression. My shot at rewriting it looks like this: “This fire, fueled by dry and windy conditions, grew stronger daily until it threatened the safety of both firefighters and nearby homes. In the end, the fire was contained, residential areas were protected and injuries were minimized.” If you haven't fallen asleep yet, then thanks for reading and I'll see you on Friday.
According to CliffsStudySolver™ English Grammar, misplaced modifiers are words or phrases that when read in the context of a sentence lend confusion, not clarity, to the meaning. Here is an example:
Incorrect: Having entered the theatre, the smell of popcorn overwhelmed us.
(The smell of popcorn entered the theatre?)
Monday, August 27, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
This progressive weekly is well known and respected for its prize winning political, environmental and community reporting. Candidates should have a degree in journalism or related field, as well as extensive publication experience and strong editing skills. They should be familiar with AP style, have management experience and the desire to create a great newspaper. The timid or the thin-skinned need not apply. The Weekly is produced by a three person editorial staff and relies on heavily freelance writers. Thus, experience recruiting, grooming and retaining freelancers will come in handy. Job requirements: Keep to a budget, edit and assign (and write) stories, manage the staff and put out the paper of choice for Honolulu's opinion makers and scenesters. The rewards: decent pay, a dependable, loyal staff, and the satisfaction of creating an independent and unique newspaper for Honolulu. Send cover letter, resume and references to firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, August 13, 2007
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Did you know that the correct punctuation differs between the phrases “my cousin Rachel” and “my wife Kara”? An astute reader recently pointed out that the phrase “my wife Kara,” which readers of this column (including, and sometimes limited to, my mom) might recognize as appearing in this space with the same frequency that severed limbs appear in Quentin Tarantino movies, really requires a comma between the words “wife” and “Kara.”
After several salvos in a grammatical battle that could only be described as epic (by me) or unbelievably dorky (by Kara), my defeat became impossible to ignore…
Friday, May 4, 2007
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
This summer Ka Leo O Hawai‘i is going to become a full-color newspaper printed at The Honolulu Advertiser's facility in Kapolei.
The editors are recruiting students who show promise as copy editors. There are several advantages for working at Ka Leo.
First, we offer flexible morning or afternoon hours and a stipend.
Second, our stories need copy editing.
Third, the stories are usually short and easy to edit.
Fourth, copy editors get to see the results of their work the next day.
And fifth, developing copy editing skills at Ka Leo will help department graduates get jobs.
Ka Leo copy editors also may be eligible to earn internship credit from the Department of English. Details
Ka Leo is trying to get interested students to contact us as soon as possible before this summer, when our four-day a week newspaper becomes a summer weekly.
"A considerable proportion, if not an outright majority, of the medical profession is of conservative cast of mind: politically, that is, not technically. Perhaps a close and continuous acquaintance with human nature at its limits renders doctors, if not cynical exactly, at least circumspect about the prospects for human perfectibility. It is surprising, then, that the major medical journals these days, edited entirely by doctors, are riddled with—I almost said rotted by—political correctness. It isn't easy to define political correctness with precision, but it is easy to recognize when it is present. It acts on me as the sound, when I was a child, of a teacher's nail scraping down a blackboard because his piece of chalk was too short: it sends shivers down my spine. It is the attempt to reform thought by making certain things unsayable; it is also the conspicuous, not to say intimidating, display of virtue (conceived of as the public espousal of the 'correct,' which is to say 'progressive,' views) by means of a purified vocabulary and abstract humane sentiment. To contradict such sentiment, or not to use such vocabulary, is to put yourself outside the pale of civilized men (or should I say persons?)."—Theodore Dalrymple
I think medical sorts are indeed of a conservative cast of mind. However, this no longer translates politically. Republican damage to the industry started to swing even the better paid medicos over, about midway through Clinton's presidency. I don't know what standing I have to speak generally, but there are hardly any Republican or GOP-leaning individuals left among the people I work with around the country now. In the 1980s even the Democrats were Reagan-leaning (can we call them "no-taxation hopefuls"?). It still remains true, however, that the cast of mind is conservative, and I believe a certain realism about human nature and life in general does help feed this.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The weekend of April 20–22 marked the second annual Weekend Residency for graduates of Antioch University L.A.'s MFA in Creative Writing Program, which I chair. After acknowledging this event was both a reunion and a celebration, I asked everyone in attendance to take note of the main reason why we had gathered. What happened in the writing workshops and seminars that weekend mattered, I claimed. What happened after the residency was over and we each returned to our homes and put pen to paper or tapped a keyboard in front of a shimmering computer screen also mattered. Then I took a few minutes to illustrate why.
The day after the Virginia Tech tragedy, I received an email from a senior reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education who said he was working on a story about the shootings. He informed me that a one-act play written by the shooter, Seung Cho (identified elsewhere as Seung-Hui Cho or Cho Seung-Hui), had become public. He provided a link to the play, and invited me to read it and respond to a series of questions, including these:
Is the writing particularly disturbing?
Or is it the sort of thing you've read before from undergraduates?
What would you do if a student handed in a piece of work like this?
I followed the link and read a short play by Seung Cho called Richard McBeef. The play is about a breakfast-time confrontation between a 13-year-old boy and his stepfather, whom the boy accuses of murdering his biological father in order to have his way with the boy's mother. The mother is also present for part of the action. The play includes a great deal of yelling, cursing, wild accusations, unlikely behavior (including some off-stage sex and a brief incident with a chainsaw), plus a considerable amount of violence—including, if I read the ending correctly, the death of the boy. All in just over seven pages.
I did not read a word of the play to our MFA alumni, but I did share my response to the questions listed above.
Is the writing particularly disturbing?
For me, yes, but only in the way that boredom is particularly disturbing, the way writing that demands rather than deserves our attention is disturbing.
Have I received this sort of work before?
At the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch L.A., never, thank god. The fact that we are an internationally competitive program with a rigorous application review process has probably prevented this, at least so far. However, for 22 years I taught undergraduates at a large university in the Great Plains, which, for many of those years was pretty much open to all graduates of any high school in the same state. On rare occasions I did in fact receive writing as violent and as badly written as this. And, truth be told, I received clumsy, violent writing from female as well as male students, though not as often.
What would I do if a student handed in a piece of work like this?
I doubt I could do anything that would prevent a deeply disturbed person from performing some horrific act, though of course if I feared this would happen I would try. But in my role as a teacher, the first thing I would do would be to talk with this person about the concept of aesthetic distance, specifically what literary critic Wayne Booth calls emotional distance—in particular the emotional distances between the author and the characters, the author and the action. What makes Richard McBeef disturbing is the same factor that makes it badly written: a complete lack of distance between the implied author (the person we assume the author is) and the emotions, particularly rage, felt by the characters. The script lacks the aesthetic distance that results from contemplation, from separating oneself and one's experience from the experience rendered on the page, from separating self from other, from imagining the other, from imagining how events appear to another person and are experienced by that same person—the aesthetic distance through which a writer perceives and thereby values the experience of others.
At Antioch there is no preferred way to write or think. And the writers who teach here have different views on the nature and definition of creative writing. But for me, creative writing is the opposite of self-expression. Creative writing is the expression of otherness, the relationship between self and other, the writer and the world, the writer and experience, the writer's view of things outside—and in interaction with—the self. Without imagining the other, the writer's craft and vision cannot grow.
What Seung Cho wrote was self-expression. What he did on that awful day at Virginia Tech, all of it, was self-expression, a failure of the imagination.
In the end, the writer's rage left the page and became a national tragedy. The events in Blacksburg have left almost everyone feeling vulnerable and helpless, as if nothing we say or do about the issue really matters. But this is not true. What happens in the classroom, in the home, and on the street does matter. What people say and what they write matters. Interaction with others—face-to-face and on the page—matters. The act of imagining others, and thereby understanding them better, doesn't merely express and engage—it staves off madness. It can save lives.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Is it absolutely necessary to print out a document for accurate proofreading? Is it possible to master the art of screen proofreading to eliminate or minimize the need for proofreading on paper, thereby saving the office supplies? Is it ever possible to print out a flawless document through proofreading on screen alone?