The case for ‘nother’.

It is a special time for those of us who consider words an art: Merriam-Webster has published a new dictionary.  Among the newly included words are some familiar (edamame) and some strange (prosecco, which is a type of Italian wine I would now like to try).  The dictionary makers have decreed which words should be included by closely monitoring usage of the English language, which I applaud.  However, it makes me wonder just what the criteria for inclusion are.  Do these words eventually go into the Scrabble dictionary?  if so, when?  Why is the not-yet-word ‘nother’ still not included?

Many of you are familar with the word “another”, a combination of the singular article ‘an’ with the word ‘other’, meaning ‘one other’.  I am unsure what evolutionary twist of language smooshed these two words together into a single word, but I do know that they have again been separated in new ways.  Yes, I am am talking about the frequently-used phrase “a whole nother”.  Examples of common use of this phrase include movies (Star wars, Luke says “But that’s a whole nother year!” in regards to helping with the farm for the rest of the season instead of going to pilot school.), music (“A Whole Nother Thang” is the title of Clarence Haskell’s debut album), and personal experience.  Yes mom, I refuse to say “another whole”.

Now, the grammar sticklers would say “a whole other” would be the correct phrase that does not create a new word.  And I’m sure the dictionary sticklers would say that ‘nother’ is not really common usage – meaning might not be conveyed outside the “a whole nother” phrase.  Someone saying “I have two nother bathtubs” might be misunderstood.  However, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.  One day (someday soon) ‘nother’ will no longer be discriminated against.  We will be free at last.

USPS controversy and there/their debate.

Recently near Denver, a non-profit manager was accused of violating postal regulations when shipping materials from his organization, Pro-Players Association.  Pro Players is a group of former professional athletes and associated personalities (commentators, media members) who raise money for a variety of charities.  Though I didn’t see any particular charities mentioned that supported environmental causes, they were doing their part and saving by reusing a variety of boxes for shipping.  Unfortunately, Gary Adler, the man in charge, was using Priority and Express mail boxes for regular mail services, which the Post Office would not deliver.

Whether or not the USPS or Adler is ultimately to blame in this case – and probably both sides should take a little blame – the news reporter is definitely to blame.  To blame for this quote: “We took off the tape and we took off the old label that was on their originally,” said Adler describing a box he recently sent that was returned by the postal service.  Now that’s bordering on slanderous.  If someone quoted me as if I were a hick that didn’t know the difference between there and their, I would be highly upset.  Unless the reporter asked me to spell ‘there’ and I goofed.  Then I’d just feel embarrassed and dumb.
Adler says he’s not going to use the USPS for shipping anymore, but I would call this a perfect opportunity for more activism than a simple boycott.  The USPS already has its own recycling program and is committed to using recycled materials.  Why not make such services available to patrons as well?  If Adler was picking up these boxes from Post Office branches, and they weren’t being recycled already, that means consumers leaving the boxes after unwrapping their package.  A simple inclusion of a recycling container within the branch (ostensibly already on site ina  back part of the mail room) would mean the growth of the USPS commitment to the environment and a new service for patrons.  Who wouldn’t be pleased?

Boy hits concrete pillar-saves lives.

I recently read this story about a bus driver in Ohio who broke a bunch of rules and probably had his bacon saved by an 11 year old kid.  Bus driver man, who holds a commercial license but was not registered with the state as required for school bus drivers, was off the bus buying gas when it started to roll.  He’s not supposed to get off any time during a route while there’s still kids inside, but maybe they forgot to tell him when he registered to be a bus driver.  Oh wait.

My favorite part of the story is about the little 11-year old boy who saved everyone.  He tried to pull the emergency brake once the bus started rolling, but evidently that didn’t work.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t even know where the emergency brake on a school bus is.  Good thing I’m not 11.  And hopefully school bus man knew enough to put the brake on before getting off the bus, but who knows.  Anyway, finally the kiddo just took the wheel and steered the bus into a giant pillar.  Plonk.  While expedient, it amused me no end.  Steering into giant pillars is why we don’t let 11-year olds drive.

Finally, there was the ending paragraph of this little article.  I will quote it here in its entirety for your amusement:

Officials at the school declined to comment. The bus is operated by Aqua Limousine Ground Transportation, he said. A message seeing comment was left with the company.

Ok, I know the standards of the Associated Press have been falling, and that we’re all under a deadline here, but really?   ‘He said’?  WHO said?  Was it that giant conglomeration of officials that refused to comment that somehow got turning into a singular pronoun?  Or were you trying to refer to the bus driver who isn’t mentioned in this paragraph at all?  And I would like to find any message that has the ability to see.  Are we using carrier pigeons?  Are they themselves the message, rather than simply message bearers?

Sigh.

What my job needs.

So, I was browsing online today and came across this.  Now, I was a big fan of the idea behind the “eats, shoots, and leaves” book (even though I never read it) and this seems in line with that whole idea.  So I’m excited about that, and about possibly getting to the library.  I had heard of the book before, but now I’ve been completely sucked in by the endorsements.

And then I thought, ‘You know, everyone in my office could use this book.  In fact, you might as well call us ‘Comma Splice City’ and be done with it.’  But endorsements can on occasion be wrong, so I’d better read the whole thing first myself.  Then I only have to convince my supa-cool boss man that everyone in the office needs one.  Here’s my argument: not only will they be funny (because they are), but they will also be educational.  And guess what?  We work at an educational institution! It will increase worker productivity too.  Really.  Especially my productivity if people actually use it and I don’t have to correct them every five minutes.

A Plug for TEAL

Recently a friend of mine noted the way sports writers were corrupting the use of articles. Well, I happen to know a few writers of sports articles personally myself, and I can safely say this is not necessarily a trend. However, I was curious – could I really be sure? What if I only have personal acquaintance with the more literate brand of sports writers? Since I’m not writing in French so much, how can I ever even know Est-ce a ou de? True, there are organizations out there pledged to heal this country’s grammar and usage maladies. Organizations like TEAL (Typo Eradication and Advancement League). But are they really enough to stem the tide? And just how much of a tide is it?

I decided I would take my alleged ‘work time’ to find out. I looked at the Yohoo! Sports page (since sports was the area in which the first article use thingy happened), since I felt yahoo would be a more potentially under-grammared site than CNN. This is what I found (in the top headlines):

“The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that addressed each of those issues Tuesday plans to hold a Feb. 13 hearing that promises to be far more riveting, featuring Roger Clemens and his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, who has said he injected the star pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone. ” – Improper use of ‘that’ related to article use.

I did read a second article that had no egregious errors (though a few stylistic tweaks could’ve certainly helped), and realized I actually had to do some work this morning. So I was unable to complete my task. Anyone up for taking another look for me?