Sunday, June 06, 2010

Thoughts on the Red Marker Blogathon

1. The idea behind the Red Marker Blogathon is not to make fun of anybody's linguistic abilities. I've tried to learn whole new languages as an adult and I know how difficult that can be. Also, I seem to have spent my life shunting between people who mock the languages that I can follow and they don't. So, you know, Vicky makes fun of Telugu while my schoolfriends all mocked Bangla. I make fun of a name like Kaka (because it means 'father's younger brother' in Bengali -- which leads to lots of colourful exclamations -- and potty (caca) in French) but the idea is not to put anybody down. If it offends you, I'll take it back quite amicably and I accept your right to get offended.

2. There is a reason behind the rule (to explain the correct usage of whatever it is that you don't like): sometimes I find, as I grumble about this usage or that, that the usage in question fits comfortably into the cultural context in which I experienced it. Some other times I know a simple grammatical rule that helps me out which somebody else doesn't and would be glad to know. So yes, put your knowledge out there. You never know when you'll save somebody's arse with it.

3. I do not necessarily agree with all the posts that have been contributed to RMB. By that I mean your pet peeves and mine may not be the same. But they don't have to be, right, so feel free to write about what bothers you. Some of the stuff I've linked to doesn't make me want to whip out my red marker (although this could just be last night's tequila talking and I'll have an entirely different POV on a grim Monday morning at work).

4. Thank you all for helping me clean up my own language too. RMB is working in all directions, as you've noted.

5. I've said this before but just in case you missed it -- RMB is not just for English. Do write about your irritations with other languages, if you have any. Or even if you've got a handy tip for Hindi, say, or any other language.

6. If anybody following RMB has a language query, this is a good time to come forward with it. Nobody will mock you for it. In fact, I have one of my own:
Can anybody tell me if words on both sides of the hyphen need capitals for a headline? Anybody at all? Eats, Shoots and Leaves seems to ignore the subject and I'm so confused.


ummon said...

This is so interesting!
And as far as your query goes, going by agency style sheets, no, you don't capitalise the word after the hyphen.
And let me tell you what really gets my goat. It's misuse of idioms and metaphors. Don't use it if you don't know for sure. I've read people writing hit the nail on the coffin, for hit the nail on the head.
Unfortunately, I can't do a post, because the instances will be from what I do at work, and that will land me in trouble.
One more link that is really great is this:

Sue said...

Ummon -- My agency doesn't hyphenate either, hence my confusion because I don't remember where I read that one ought to. I mix metaphors like a madwoman in Bengali and get glared at all the time. :)

Thanks for the link, it's a great site.

shub said...

Ditto on #4. I recently found out that 'fruit' is a non-count or a mass noun. So saying 'I bought fruits' is wrong.
Never too late to learn some things, it turns out.

Anonymous said...

english is a phunny language,in flux at one can never master it,also given its morphological syntactical,lexical illustrate,
the meaning of less is 'little' or smaller in quantity,but in words like eggless,helpless 'less' means 'without'.

but your attempt is praiseworthy...and itis a delight to learn all this,which is taught at basic school level and soon forgotten.

have sent this link to most english learners and teachers.

Mystic Margarita said...

As far as I remember, according to the AP Style, both sides of the hyphen need upper case in a headline.

Sue said...

Shub -- But you do say 'Apples and oranges are two different kinds of fruits', no? Is it like the people vs peoples thing?

Anon -- Thank you!

Mystic -- Well, that's what I always thought, but, oh well. Maybe that's the old-fashioned way? In my last two years of school, grammar, letter-writing and even some spellings underwent a sudden change. Most confusing.

Can I expect a post from you some time for the blogathon? :)

The Print Lover said...

If you aren't done with the RMB updates, pls add mine too.

And AJ has a great post on this topic:

shilpa said...

I thought words on both sides of the hyphen don't need capitals, only the first one, but I am not sure.

I have learnt a lot thanks to RMB. "Ramu and I went for a walk", for example! Thanks for this.

Itchingtowrite said...

Old posts

sscribbles said...

hey, Sue love your blogathon posts. read each and every post written by people.

sscribbles said...

and please pardon my english and small letters at the beginning of a sentence :)

Sue said...

TPL -- RMB runs all month and of course I'll be happy to link. I wasn't sure your post was for the blogathon, you see. Feel free to do another post if something else should occur to you.

Thanks for AJ's link too.

Shilpa -- Thanks Itchy and Cee Kay, the idea was theirs more than mine. I'm glad you're having fun though. As for the hyphenation, apparently both forms are correct! (Different strokes for different folks etc.)

Itchy -- Yay, thanks. :)

Sscribbles -- Thanks, that's such a nice compliment. Scribble away as you please, it's a free world even if some of us do brandish Red Markers!

JustAnotherBlogger said...

Hello Sue - I lurk around many blogs :) and have read a number of RMB posts. I enjoyed reading most (or all) of the posts and learned a good deal as well. But, unfortunately, I didn't quite agree with the basic theme - that of people getting 'irritated' with language usage and feeling the need to get their red markers out. I was planning to ask for your permission to link to RMB and write a post about how it is OK for people to make mistakes, particularly in a language which is not their native tongue. Of course, you couldn't have missed it - some of the RMB posts themselves have mistakes :) which, as I said, is completely alright. Anyhow, this post of yours obviates the need for my post-to-be :)

Sue said...

JAB -- Feel free to write such a post, if you would still like to. Eve's Lungs and Maid in Malaysia did just that.