The War on Words

Media Watch

• Sarah Todd, in the sports section of The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Dario Saric (of the 76ers) is as blue-collar of a player as they come.” The mistake is ubiquitous, but of is totally unnecessary in this and similar phrases.

• Here’s the start of a caption that appeared in a recent Sunday News Journal: “The homeless stay warm inside Sunday Breakfast Mission, who wants to inform the public of the eminent danger to the homeless by issuing an excessive cold alert. . .” It went on in this clunky fashion, but we will only point out that the Sunday Breakfast Mission should be referred to as which, and the danger was imminent (about to happen), not eminent (important, famous).

• Vin Scully, legendary Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster, as reported by the Associated Press: “Dick Enberg (who passed away in December) will never be emulated.” Sadly, the venerable Scully misspoke. Many will no doubt emulate (imitate) the also legendary broadcaster Enberg, but he perhaps will never be equaled, the word we assume Scully meant to use.

• Madison Avenue has rarely demonstrated respect for good grammar. Latest proof, as reported by reader Brenda Boyd: In a TV ad for Sensodyne Toothpaste, the speaker tells the viewer “how effective it works.” That would be effectively; or, better, “how effective it is.”

• Philadelphia radio and TV media were disappointed in the Eagles’ defense during the Giants game, claiming it needed “sureing up.” The term is shoring up, and it refers to a shore, which is a supporting post or beam; a prop or strut. 

• A panelist on MSNBC’s Morning Joe said that “Trump is incredibly beholding to certain right-wing influences.” As noted previously in this space, the word is beholden.

• According to reader Janet Strobert, the November issue of American Way, the American Airlines magazine, contained an article about Kelsea Ballerini that included this sentence: “Ballerini found her footing as a singer-songwriter and earned an early career boost from Taylor Swift, who sung her praises on Twitter on 2015.” The past tense of sing is sang, Janet notes.

• And commentators all over TV and radio continue to utter the double is: “The point is is that . . .”

Signs of the Apocalypse

• Reader Katherine Ward, a writer and editor, recently learned that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary now accepts “sunk” as the past tense of “sink.” Her reaction: “My heart sank. We’re sunk!”

• Corporate-speak is getting way out of hand. Case in point: An email recently sent to a banker friend contained this phrase: “If the action is dependent on technology to solution it . . .” Really? Solve doesn’t work here?

Department of Redundancies Dept.

• In a News Journal story about teachers who created a YouTube video, the caption read: “It’s a positive affirmation for educators.” As opposed to a negative affirmation?

• Reader Joan Burke sends us this caption from the online edition of The Newark Post: “Smoothie bowls, like these ones, are sold at Viva Bowls.” Ones is totally unnecessary here, and it’s also a provincialism that should never appear in a publication, online or otherwise.

• And finally, that banker friend mentioned above notes that “required deadline” is common usage in his office.

Hard to Believe, Harry Dept.

(In honor of the late Richie Ashburn, Phillies announcer, who would utter those words to his broadcast partner, the late Harry Kalas, whenever he witnessed something incredibly stupid.)

Headline in The Inquirer: “Woman burned after setting herself a blaze.” First of all, duh! And second, ablaze is one word.

Just Sayin’

Pearl Harbor Day (Dec. 7) reminded us of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous (and prophetic) quote: “A date which will live in infamy.” We admire, respect and honor FDR, but grammarians would agree that he should have said “that will live in infamy.”

And we leave you with these reminders:

• Nuclear: It’s pronounced nook-lear, not nook-u-lar.

• The abbreviation i.e. means “that is,” not “for example.” The abbreviation for that is e.g.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.