Good for your health; bad for your brain

Vancouver’s new smoking regulations have resulted in a flurry of horribly misspelled, badly punctuated, and otherwise disgusting new signs on patios all over Vancouver.

Is it really that difficult to spell-check? Must you really say that smoking is “prohibbitted”?

This recent flurry of terrible abuses of the English language made me want to do some walk-by editing with a big, fat Sharpie. But, as a well-behaved editor, I’m more inclined to go home and whinge about it on my blog.

Verbal tics: Time for an aural edit

I sat through an unnecessarily long and painful software training session the other day (Office 2007 — thanks again, Microsoft), and my instructor had two verbal tics that only contributed to the length and pain.

Every time he asked anyone to do anything, he followed up with “if you would, please.”

And any time he explained just about anything, he finished with “is what it is.”

This led to monologues that sounded like this:

Okay, now click on the ribbon, if you would, please. This ribbon is a new feature, is what it is. Now create a new document, if you would, please. Now create a new slide, if you would, please. Choose the movie clip template, if you would, please. The movie clip is a new template, is what it is.

I understand verbal tics and delay tactics are necessary to allow the brain to catch up to the mouth, but this was clearly a session this trainer had delivered hundreds of times before, in exactly the same language-battering way. We wouldn’t put up with this kind of nonsense in writing, so why is it okay in speech?

Oh, CBC – I told the world I loved you!

And then you do this:

However, the club said if the swelling and pain reduce within the week, it would allow Ohlund to continue playing in lieu of slight discomfort and he would then undergo surgery in the off-season.

Well, yes: playing in lieu of slight discomfort sound like a great idea, but somehow I don’t think that’s actually what they meant.

In lieu seems to be one of those expressions that gets abused on a regular basis. I’ve seen it used to mean “in light of.” Here it seems to mean “despite.”

But it’s really quite simple. Lieu mean “place” or “stead.” So in lieu = instead.

To “ed” or not to “ed”

The other day, a client asked me whether the expression “cast doubt” should be  “casted doubt” if used in the past tense.

 The answer is no, since cast is an irregular verb — the past tense is also “cast.”

But I did a quick Google search to see what’s happening to this expression online, and “casted doubt” comes up about 2,000 times.  Hmmm…

I did find one very useful document in the process of this diversion: a guide to tense  produced by the University of Ottawa.  It contains a nice list of irregular verbs.

Of course, that sent me off on a whole new diversion: looking for concrete and definitive proof that “boughten” is not a word — because I hate it.

That brought me to this very interesting post.

And at this point, I think I’d best get myself off of Google or I could be lost for days.

A freelance travel & lifestyle writer/editor in Vancouver, BC.