1. My friend Meg sent me a link yesterday via that handy instant messenger contraption all the kids use: Typo Personalities. I clicked on it and said to her, “All I’ve read so far is the caption, but I am already in love.” (I then went on to read the whole article.) You can go read the article and come back. I’ll wait. Okay, good. Going around the country and informing people of grammatical mistakes in their store signs? Seriously? Brilliant. Yes, I am one of those people who dies a little bit inside every time I see apostrophe abuse. (Who decided it was a good idea to put an apostrophe in a word simply because it ends with the letter S? And why did this idea spread so successfully?)
I know that there are people who will read that article and wonder why those guys went to so much trouble over something that doesn’t matter in the slightest (I know this because I’ve mentioned this article to a few people and the reactions were either “That’s awesome” or “Those guys need to find a date”), and this makes me wonder why it is that caring about grammar makes a person uptight and joyless? I am a firm believer that all writing rules can be broken effectively, but I also believe that it has to be done for a reason other than laziness. Grammar exists so that we can communicate with clarity, and I am all for it. So there.
2. Book critics Louis Bayard and Laura Miller meta-review The Death of the Critic in Who killed the literary critic? (It’s on Salon.com, so you’re gonna have to sit through an annoying ad.) And who did kill the literary critic? Bloggers? Intellectuals? Those unwashed masses who don’t read books? Colonel Mustard in the library with the rope? Are they even really dead? Are they zombies? Am I asking too many questions?
3. This article was just fun to read. Or at least I thought it was. You know words that perfectly describe what it is they stand for, words that aren’t exactly onomatopoeia? As the article says:
“More like proper nouns than mere words, they match the objects they describe. Pickle, gloomy, portly, curmudgeon–sounds that loop back on themselves to close the circle of meaning. They’re perfect, in their way. They’re what all language wants to be when it grows up.”
I love words like the ones writer James Bottum describes. Words that are fun to roll around on the tongue, to chew on, to savor. Words that go beyond being merely descriptive and turn into something else entirely, something delicious. (I think delicious is one such word.) Conversely, some words don’t seem to do their subjects justice: butterfly? Meh. I prefer the staccato flutter of lepidopteran. (I also like staccato and flutter.) What are some of your favorite words?