Is it just me? Lately many of the things I read contain glaring errors. It first hit me while reading Tim Tyler's Memetics.

"If memetics explains only explains the imitation of observed behavior, ..." (p 96)

"Perhaps biological an cultural differ..." (p 173)

"Genetic engineers can now take information form wherever they like..."

"However, not everyone seems agree that ..." (both on p 184)

"The upright gait hypothesis hypothesis is interesting for several reasons." (p 206)

I thought, "Didn't the editor even read this? Who was this?" But, lo, no editor was credited. There was no editor! Is this a new cost-cutting trend in publishing?

But the news lately has been just as bad.

It is original from the Andean area of South Africa and widely grown in both the north of Chile and Argentina and the south Mexico, especially Ecuador.

A Promising Fruit: The Tree Tomato

That sample was from today's Science Daily. Yesterday I noticed four or five glaring errors. This is disorienting, even a little scary. Has literacy decline crossed a tipping point?

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Texa's Style Bar-B-Q .... let's see what Grammarly does with this.

Answer from Grammarly: "unnecessary ellipses".

Oh my gosh, Grammarly didn't catch it. OK! so much for the big "G"!

Why didn't it suggest spelling out "barbecue"? It's a food (and a cooking method), not a prompt in a play for an extremely popular doll, and not a cattle brand "BQ".

I just looked at Grammarly's website, and tried a couple of lines from "Jabberwocky" for giggles. Now it wants me to sign up for an account before showing what the "writing issues" actually are. After giving them a fake email address* it seems you have to pay for any of their plans.

They're allowed to have that business model, especially if their plagiarism checking is good; but going from "Try Grammarly now!" on their main page, with that inviting text box, to "We didn't really mean that; you have to sign up and pay" rubbed me the wrong way. It's like the "people search" companies that claim to have found 3 public records for Mistletoe Q. Wilberthwaipe, only you have to pay to see the details. They've gone on my shit list. has instant public temporary mailboxes for when you need to give an email address but don't want to get spammed afterwards; just make up

Another useful resource for dealing with some sites is If a website insists you register with an email address just for reading their articles, or returning a quiz result, or whatever, someone might have already registered a fake account; bugmenot lets people share those. (It explicitly excludes pay sites and age-restricted sites, as well as community sites like AN where you can read stuff as an anonymous visitor, but need to sign up before posting.)

Turns out has its own bit of horrid bureaucratese masquerading as English: if you submit a site to be blocked, it returns the message "Your request has been submitted. It will be reviewed and actioned accordingly."

Grammarly looked like bait and switch to me, so I didn't bother giving them a fake email address.

"...It will be reviewed and actioned accordingly."

Every good bureaucrat knows that any word can be verbed.

Then again, as a Nancy Lebovitz calligraphic button states: "It's not the verbing that weirds language; it's the renounification."

I often wonder what incents people to do these things. At least they didn't say it will be proactioned!

Sometimes such language leaves me incensed.

(And I don't mean burning sweet-smelling spices!)

El abuso de apóstrofo también ocurre en español: (en un restaurante en Filadelfia)

Restroom signs: Señorita's [sic] and Hombre's [sic]

Is your computer’s auto-complete (by whatever name it’s known) the villain?

It was on my iPads, changing every “its” (possessive) to “it’s” (contraction), even in longer words ending with “it”, such as the verb “intuits”, which it also capitalized (Intuit’s).

I went into Settings and had to search 4 the SOB.


Mo also points out that apostrophe mistakes can have dire real-world consequences (or welcome ones, depending on your politics!):

ROMNEY★RYAN ‘12 Another example: ‘12 ROMNEY RYAN

The mistake here is using a left single quote instead of an apostrophe -- easy to do inadvertently because "smart quotes" aren't that smart. Butterick's Practical Typography has an explanation, and tips for making your computer do the right thing.

Like most of us, for web postings and email I go along with the plain straight quotes on the keyboard.

Let's give it a try ’      Shift + Option + ] = ’

That's one thing Macs got right from the very beginning: putting useful characters on the keyboard, easily accessible!

On Windows boxes, typing curly single quotes ‘ ’ is more involved: hold down Alt and type 0145 or 0146 on the numeric keypad. Curly double quotes “ ” are Alt-0147 and Alt-0148. "Character Map" will show you those shortcuts.


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