Word crimes: irony is not coincidence, etc.


Sing it, Al.

We have already rabbited on about the misuse of the word “literally,” especially when people actually mean “figuratively.” Don’t get us going about “hopefully.” However, Ben Yagoda doesn’t necessarily have a problem with these kinds of usages. Nor does he yawn at strings of passive voice sentences, or the misuse of the word “which” instead of “that.” We agree with him, however, that it’s okay to split infinitives. Read the rest of his views on “bogus grammar ‘errors'” here.

Wait! Don’t give up on him. He cracks down hard on some grammatical abuses: the misuse of subjunctive and bad parallelism, for example. However, we don’t agree with his tiff with the semicolon, a punctuation mark that we rather like. Read his take on the grammar rules he insists on here.

Or, if you prefer, you can enjoy the 3-minute version below by a fellow called “Weird Al Yankovic”:



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2 Responses to “Word crimes: irony is not coincidence, etc.”

  1. Margaret Says:

    I like this song, in part because I really dislike the sexism of Robin Thicke’s original, but also because I have been saddened by the misuse and abuse of language in recent years.

  2. Harold Says:

    Linguists don’t like Weird Al’s indignant approach to what he thinks of as correct usage, but what they think are really class/status markers.


    I’m not sure what I think. Formal writing requires certain usages, and IMO it is socially desirable for written and spoken language not to diverge too much.