The War On Words – August 2021

Bob Yearick

, War On Words

A monthly column in which we attempt, however futilely, to defend the English language against misuse and abuse

Phillies Follies

The Phillies have had their share of problems on the field this season, and recently those problems seem to have spread to their media presence. Examples:

Reader Walt DelGiorno reports that Phils TV color commentator John Kruk reconfigured an old expression. After he and booth partner Tom McCarthy had made an on-air blunder, the Krukker said they needed to be more careful and “bust down the hatches.” That would be batten down, which means to tie, close, or cover.

Phils Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, in a piece written for the Associated Press in which he lamented the lack of hitting in Major League Baseball:  “It’s the shifting defenses combined with hitters being lead astray by information.” The past tense of lead is led.

Former Phils relief pitcher and current NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst Ricky Bottalico, in a segment of the show called “What is he doing?”: “He supposably was warming up.” This is reminiscent of the Friends episode in which Chandler recalls dumping a girl because she pronounced supposedly that way.

And then there was Manager Joe Girardi, as quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer: “I think we’re pretty fortunate that no one’s ran away with it in our division.” He should’ve said “no one’s run.” Joe has trouble with the present and past perfect of many verbs. He frequently mangles “has gone” into “has went.”

Media Watch

The Wilmington News Journal’s Kevin Tresolini missed the grammar bull’s-eye when he wrote this: “Justin Best was playing middle school football when a concussion led he and his parents to reconsider his athletic pursuits.” As the object of the verb led (unlike Schmidt, Kevin spelled it correctly), the pronoun should be him.

TNJ quoted Ray Taylor, of the 4H Afterschool Program in Newark, thusly: “Students and teachers have been through the ringer this past year.” The writer should have spelled it wringer, which is a device for wringing water from wet clothes, mops, or other objects.

A testimonial from something called The Beauty Blog contained this sentence: “I have found the missing key to my skin regiment!” A regiment is a body of soldiers, in the strictest sense commanded by a colonel. A regimen, the word needed here, is a systematic plan or course of action, usually having to do with self-care.

How Long, Hh Lord, How Long?

(In which we chronicle the continuing abuse of the apostrophe)

A chyron, or crawl, on ESPN informed us that “There have been four different ladies champions at the last four Wimbledon’s.”

Department of Redundancies Dept.

• Jeff Zillgitt, reviewing the book Home Waters in USA TODAY: “I reread ‘A River Runs Through It’ again . . .” Wait . . . does that mean he has read it three times?

Headline on ABC news: “Search and rescue efforts
are still ongoing.”

Headline in The Inky: “Jon Rahm rallies back to win Open.”

Reader Jane Buck spotted this in a story in The Washington Post: “The U.S. economy is emerging from the coronavirus pandemic . . . as businesses and consumers struggle to adapt to . . . higher prices, fewer workers, [and] new innovations . . .”
As opposed to old innovations?

• An online news report about Simone Biles gave us
this classic: “The winning performance left commentators speechless as they failed to vocally analyze the gymnastic champion’s performance.”

• A recent email from Wordsmith extolled the virtues of “three pocket-sized handbooks that are chock-a-block full of recalcitrance, Shakespeare, history . . .” Chockablock (the no-hyphens spelling is preferred in the U.S.): overflowing with; bursting with.

• Another email, reported by a reader, contained this:  “Tehorah first premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2015.” When a production premieres, it’s always the first time.

WORD OF THE MONTH

shambolic
Pronounced sham-bol-ik, it’s an adjective meaning very disorganized; messy or confused.

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Contact me for a fun presentation on grammar: ryearick@comcast.net.

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