Sunday, December 6, 2015

Grammar police & tvs

Getting it right
Too difficult
For talking heads


WATCHING LOCAL tv talking heads either can be (a) painful or (b) amusing.

Back in the day, I was editor of a small daily in eastern Nevada. Because the owner was cost conscious the paper shared an AP "pony wire" with the local radio station.

The copy over the wire - since the target market was radio and tv - always provided a phonetic pronunciation of uncommon words.

As examples:

    Chabad (ha-bad)
    Chanukah (ha-nu-kah)
    Netanyahu (ne-tan-ya-hoo)
I don't know if local news writers - those people who prepare what the talking heads (anchors) read - do the same thing - I suspect not.

Because Hanuka (or Chanukah or …) is at hand it gets a brief mention in my area. South Florida has the second or third largest concentration of Jews in the U.S. ignoring Hanuka puts some advertising revenue in jeopardy, and no media outlet wants that.

This morning, I was told CHA-bad - "cha" as in "cha-cha" the dance - was planning a parade of cars with menorahs on their roofs. (Never mind that the correct name for the "Hanuka menorah" is "hanukiea (ha-nu-key-yah). Lots of Jews don't even know that so I don't fault the writer or reader.)

Down here, Chabad is almost ubiquitous; I know of 4 within a few minutes drive or a 30-minute walk.

Obviously the talking head lived a sheltered life in some rural midwest hamlet.

The person who wrote the script for the newsreader should have known the reader's disability and either told him how to pronounce Chabad (ha-bad) or written the word phonetically.

Unique is unique and is not modifiable

As a risk management practitioner I used to write long lists of threats to my client's organization.

As the last entry I would add "ubiquitous other" to cover any threat my client's Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and I might have overlooked.

As with unique the only acceptable modifier is "almost."

Something may be almost unique or almost ubiquitous, but never "most" or "more" or "less."

My spouse, who has English as her - at least - fourth language, and all my children - one of whom now is an English teacher, compete with me to catch professionals (talking heads) who, despite university educations, lack a basic command of English.

Perhaps the talking heads and their writers lacked teachers in grammar/elementary schools who cared about the language I doubt that even Fowler would continence "most unique" or "extremely ubiquitous."


BY THE WAY has anyone noticed that the reports about terrorist attacks around the world always, always fail to mention Israel where terrorist attacks occur multiple times-a-day?

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