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Daily Archives: November 9, 2011

Note to Martha Stewart

 

Veterinarians

 

Your pets are adorable, and your concern for their welfare is admirable.

 

But I must remind you that their "doctors" are called "veterinarians," not "vet-i-narian," as you pronounce it. The profession is a six-syllable word, not five.

 

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Modifiers

 

The media and beyond.

 

How did we lose our sense of proper modifiers…most notably referring to the media as "it"?  You hear this every day by well-educated commentators on television news programs. 

 

"Media" is a plural, reflecting newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and some  Internet websites collectively. Now everybody is calling media "it".  Media (the word) is not an "it"; it's a "they".

 

Other examples of crappy modifier usage are most prominent in sports reporting when someone calls a member of the New York Yankees a "Yankee." There is no such thing as a "Yankee" on that team; because Yankees is a BRAND NAME, not a collection of individual players. I explain this in detail on my blog called titled "The 's' curse."

 

What's the logic when a commentator refers to someone on the Boston Red Sox team as a "Sock"?  The players are not all a group of SOCKS; because "Sox" is part of their brand name.

 

Even though the word "team" signifies something singular (a unit, a collection of people), it's made up of individuals. So why do we sometimes refer to the team scoring, winning, or losing as "they" rather than "it."?  It seems that the principal difference occurs between commentators in European sports vs. USA sports. You'll notice this, especially, during soccer tournaments. Example…saying that Manchester United "are"…rather than Manchester United "is"….  These references make the "s curse" even more murky in the face of brand names vs. plurals.

 

Sometimes modifiers get confused with contractions…most commonly the difference between "it's" and "its". They're totally different. "It's" is a contraction for "it is". "Its" is a possessive…never to be 'apostrophied'.

 

So many Americans think that "it's" is possessive; probably because the apostrophe is used in all other situations…"Dick's," "Tom's," etc.  But not and never in the case of "its" or "hers" or "his". It would be like writing: "her's" or "hi's".

 

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Uncategorized