Staff photojournalist Shawn Rocco and staff writer Martha Quillin reported this week on Cary homeowner David Bowden's very large message to the town of Cary.
Misplaced and dangling modifiers can sneak in when writers and editors aren't paying attention. A couple of readers found such constructions in recent N&O pieces, and I found a couple in one article I was reading on another Web site. Those examples provide the makings for this post.
A slogan I've seen from time to time comes to mind today: Christians aren't perfect -- just forgiven. Sometimes I'd like to post this slogan: Grammar advisers aren't perfect -- just trying very hard.
Sometimes, an error in a public sign surprises me because of the context.
The Associated Press has updated its widely used stylebook for 2009. It has at least a couple of entries that will irritate those who don't care for turning nouns into verbs.
A reader objects to loose usage on bring and take.
Amid all the hoopla over the Tar Heels' national basketball championship, a reader calls our attention to the difference between celebrant and celebrator.
Those who report the news often apply labels to terrible or urgent events: tragedy, disaster, crisis, emergency. Sometimes, those labels don't quite fit. We risk overstating the trouble.
I've been thinking about how people learn English as a second language and studying inflection, including the way we make plurals and possessives. So here is a short quiz on possessives for native speakers as well as for those who have learned or are learning English as a second language.
Click here or on the question mark icon to begin.
Some have long lamented that English has no gender-neutral pronoun to use in a construction such as this: Everyone needs his or her breakfast. In regular, everyday speech, we might say "their" instead of "his or her." But "everyone" is singular, so the pronoun following it should be singular."His or her" is rather clunky, though. Back in the olden days (my youth) we'd just use "his." But feminism helped us see the problem with that approach.
This pronoun problem is arousing interest among Twitter users, according to this CNN story. Apparently, people are calling for a new gender-neutral pronoun. But, as the story notes, linguists know that language is very resistant to change in pronouns. When you go to the story, take particular note of the quotes from linguist Steven Pinker.
By the way, CNN.com has a collection of stories about language and linguistics.