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June Casagrande's Blog

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  I came across this comma usage in an AOL story today: "Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California said during an April 22, 2009 hearing on credit card reform conducted by the U.S. House Financial Services Committee ..." For over a decade now, I've been getting paid to stick commas into...
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   Last week, Language Log posted a blog entry claiming to trace to Cameroonian roots the chant at the end of Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." (You know, "ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa," not, as I used to sing, "I'm the same I'm the sound of Michael'...
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  "A foreclosed home may be in need of major repairs." ... changed to ... "A foreclosed home may need major repairs." This isn't a show-stopper by any means. It's certainly not like the "lump crap cocktail" I came across a while back. But it's one of those little...
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While talking about healthcare yesterday, the president mentioned "Americans who like their doctor." These constructions drive me nuts. On the one hand, it's odd to refer to a large group of Americans as having a single "doctor." On the other hand, "Americans who like their...
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  I was curious about the term "grammar school." Specifically, I wanted to find some way to track when, why, and to what extent the term "elementary school" in the U.S. has replaced the term "grammar school." I failed. But I did come across some other interesting...
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  A few weeks ago I filed the manuscript for my third book - a book about sentence structure. I spent six months writing it. Before I penned the book deal, I had spent about two years obsessing over sentences - hoarding them, squirreling away every example I could find of bad or illustrative...
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  It's official. I'm now cuckoo nutty about sentences. After years of copy editing and obsessing about sentence structure, I passed into the realm of cuckoo nutty this morning when I read this first sentence of a Reuters story:  "A loss in server connectivity that caused the New York Stock...
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  "My advice to writers just starting out? Don't use semicolons! They are transvestite hermaphrodites, representing exactly nothing. All they do is suggest you might have gone to college."  - Kurt Vonnegut I came across this quotation in Armageddon in Retrospect exactly one week after I...
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        I got an e-mail yesterday from a former student of my Mediabistro class who wanted to know whether the school where she works should put an apostrophe in the name of its new building, which here we'll call Explorers Hall. (Not its real name.) Her bosses want it written thusly, with no...
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Here's a message I got today. It was sent to the e-mail address that appears in the tagline of my weekly grammar column.  "June, as a former English teacher, I noticed your split infinitive in your first paragraph. I'm sure it was just a simple error, but it is one that irritates me. I hope...
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  This was in my e-mail in-box today: "Dear Subscriber, Coming soon, you can expect a little more out of your Los Angeles Times subscription. That's because in addition to the award-winning content you already get, you'll receive our exclusive monthly newsletter, "Above the Fold," in...
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For those who missed it, there's a piece in today's Los Angeles Times about early lexicographers Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster and their influence on spelling. Johnson didn't believe that any word should end with C, and so filled his 3 million-word tome with stuff like "musick" and...
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  Imagine you live in one of those cookie-cutter communities in California where every house is pretty much identical. You struggled for years to save up for a down payment. In 2006 you finally pulled it off and bought a place for $584,800. Your next-door neighbor is about your age, if not a few...
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" ... enjoy an appetizer of Shrimp Louis or Lump Crap Cocktail ..." And here's what's not so great about this moment in copy editing: I didn't catch the typo. One of my colleagues did -- after yours truly had read the document. Yikes.
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  Today's Los Angeles Times has an article about some of the people whom Obama might tap to fill David Souter's Supreme Court seat. It mentions Solicitor General Elena Kagan, federal judge Sonia Sotomayor, federal appeals court judge Diane Wood, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, and Homeland...
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