Monday, May 15, 2006

Strunk & White

I will the first to admit that I'm (too much of) a huge stickler for things like grammar and spelling. I'll also admit that, at times, it's true that I don't proofread my own material well enough, letting some errors slip through. But that doesn't stop me from making fun of the errors I see when I find them.


The other day I received an email from someone who used to work as a law clerk in my office. By "law clerk," I mean he graduated from law school and therefore had legal training. The law clerk's job is usually to do research and write memos on various legal issues that come up, and sometimes to work under the supervision of a more experienced attorney to write briefs that eventually get submitted to a court. Because law clerks usually haven't passed the bar yet, they're not considered "attorneys" though they do a good amount of research and writing like a first year associate would.

The former law clerk wrote to say hi, and to remind me that should I ever need help, he was available for a reasonable fee. (My guess is that he still hasn't passed the bar yet.)

He closed the email with: "Hope your doing well."

This doesn't instill in me much confidence that his writing skills have improved.


People looking for sex on Craigslist -- that's about 99.99% of the "personals" ads in the "men seeking men" section -- really need to learn the difference between "discreet" and "discrete." It gets annoying seeing people seeking "DISCRETE encounters" (especially when the word is in all caps). I would hope each encounter is discrete.


Even my support staff can't seem to get the distinctions right, which drives me batty. I correct things all the time when I'm editing things typed up by my secretary that I feel I shouldn't have to edit. It's even worse when I don't see the document before it gets filed, and there are issues with what actually makes it before a judge.

Usually, it's in the form of the magically appearing apostrophe:

"Defendants' claim that the Act does not apply."

"Defendant, in it's motion, argues that the Act does not apply."



Steve said...

My BF teaches English and says I actually do a pretty good job with grammar and spelling. According to him however, I tend to get a little 'comma crazy.'

Sub Girl said...

yech yech! i am also a stickler for grammar, especially punctuation. it's the english major in me.

p.p. said...

I spel good, and can rite good.

Dennis! said...

And a gold star to you, Peter. :)

Will said...

My students get pissed when I take off points for grammar in their research papers. "Come on," they say, "just look at the content! That's what's important!"

My response is, "if you're too stupid to know the difference between 'there' and 'their,' you're too stupid to tell me anything of substance." A tad harsh, perhaps, but it makes the point, after which my end of semester critiques go into a nosedive.

mysterygirl! said...

I love this. I actually laughed out loud at "I should hope that each encounter is discrete," which probably proves what a huge grammar nerd I am.