Thursday, May 15, 2008


This guy is no fun at all.
(Thanks, Jeff for the link)


Anonymous said...

"Sorry" but I think that's bull. :)

Just because something is widely done does not suddenly make it correct or appropriate. Thus the fact that he can't justify his explanation in any usage book.

Anonymous said...


No other easy way to indicate emphasis? An under line, bold, or italic are not easy?

And when bolding or underlining is not possible? When in underlining impossible? Even on a hand-written sign you can always draw a line!

Anonymous said...

AUGH! Of course people have other ways to put emphasis: ALL-CAPS, or, well, _grammar_. "Sorry", as a word, with the comma, is perfectly naturally emphasized within the sentence; it's the first word seen, it has an emphasized connotation all of its own. it does not need any further emphasis. "We love sushi" has a perfectly fine object referenced by the verb. What more needs be said?

Yes, it's all bull. Quotes are overdone by people who have no knowledge on how to use them - that's not what "common use" is meant for...


rob said...

Enjoyed following your link to the discussion over there. The guy almost had me persuaded that his POV was valid, and I was just one of the classical snobs, but then I took a look at the blog title - The Lexicographer's Rules.

Anonymous said...

Pardon my language, but that was a depressingly refined pile of nonsensical horseshit. I'm really curious what these "Situations where bold or underlining are not possible" are.

Finnie Family said...

He's just trying to justify mass ignorance but in so doing demonstrates his own beautifully!

(Note use of exclamation mark for emphasis)

Mathew Walls said...

Bold and underlining are not possible in plaintext. However, situations where plaintext is used are becoming fewer and fewer, and even in such media there's a longstanding convention of using *asterisks* to indicate boldinating and _underscores_ to indicate underlining.

The thing that particularly annoys me about quotation marks as emphasis is when everything is emphasised. If a sign says "Buy one get one 'FREE'!" is anything actually emphasised? It doesn't make anything more prominent than anything else, it just makes it look stupid.

john said...

wow, seriously no fun. when is it ever impossible/impractical to underline something or italicize it? at the very least, if your medium is plain text, you can use asterisks for emphasis, exactly as fools use quotes.

(i see that others have said the same thing, but i'm not going to go back and untype it now)

honeydo said...

So he's emphasizing the fact that not only are there many stupid....ummm....misinformed people in this world, but he is one of them and proud of it. What a "smart" guy :p

Anonymous said...

Wow. This guy has issues. If he feels this strongly about the incorrect use of quotation marks, I shudder to think what beliefs he practices and defends in private.

Jessica said...

What exactly is wrong with purposely misinterpreting incorrectly used quotation marks? Oh, right, it might promote literacy and the use of Standard English, and we wouldn't want that, now, would we?

comoprozac said...

Scare quotes? Really? Wow.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what everyone has said.

And also:
"No! They just wanted to emphasise the word 'sushi.' Very simple. You have to go out of your way to get it wrong."

WHAT?? This is not acceptable. People misspell things all the time, or use the wrong homonym (their, there). Does that make it right? Am I supposed to ignore horrible spelling, sentence structure and grammar just because I know what the writer MEANT to say?
If I would, I could.
Dear Lexicographer,
when I have to spend time and energy deciphering the correct meaning several times per sentence, the written piece is stripped of its power. It can no longer convince, persuade, horrify, brighten, enlighten, amuse, or entertain.
Perhaps Lexicographer missed the avalanche of examples where the UQMs are handwritten. Maybe someone should teach the children how to draw an underline.

Sarah said...

Of course quotation marks are "OK" for emphasis! Who needs "proper" punctuation, anyway? Down with the "Man"!

While we're at it, why stop with quotation marks? Why don't you just throw in a border of ,,,commas,,,?

Or put. periods. after. every. word. because. it's. a. nice. visual. effect.

Or how about an underline made up of semicolons? (Actually, that would look kind of cool...)

Anonymous said...

What a load of crap! This is one of the stupidest things I've read in ages.

I know plenty of people misuse quotation marks, but I thought they did it out of ignorance. I can't believe that somebody actually tried to justify it with a whole rational argument!

Nichole D. said...

God, no kidding! What a party pooper!

Anonymous said...

How ironic he has a column The Lexicographer's Rules, and then goes on to say just go ahead and break them for no good reason.

He Sucks

Anonymous said...

He has to be kidding........ This has to be a joke, right??????!!!!!!

Yes, that did indeed hurt to type.

Juliet said...

I second what this guy said:

"The overuse of scare quotes indicates a lack of familiarity with how English works, not some advanced stylistic ability."

However I will choose a cheap laugh whenever possible, even if it means reading the signs "wrong".

Not quite the Bradys said...

Spanglish is widely used as well. Does that make it a language (or a "language")?

That guy needs to remove the "stick" from his "butt".

G. I. Poo said...

His opening argument of White Castle's "Buy 'em by the "sack"" isn't even valid. White Castle IS (see, I used caps for emphasis) asking the reader to doubt whether a real sack will be used. I imagine a SACK as being something like santa claus would carry, or like a potato sack, huge, burlap, throw-it-over-your-shoulder. Obviously you're not going to buy white castle sliders by the sack load, not a real sack. dumby.

Amanda said...

I had to stop reading when he said, "They are what is called “scare quotes.”"

I do believe he meant: they ARE what ARE called "scare quotes." (caps for emphasis)
A less stupid sentence would just say, "they are scare quotes."

I'm looking forward to his next "rule" that incorrect grammar should be correct called, "A hearty endorsement of confusing the "singular" and the "plural.""

Anonymous said...

you can never have too much decoration

Unknown said...

I like this comment that was left on the Lexicographer's post:

"If someone decides, out of ignorance, that the best way to indicate a question is to put a percent sign at the end of the phrase, are we going to start considering that a great innovation in English grammar as well%"

That made me laugh out loud! But seriously, would English lovers get all up in arms about using percent signs as question marks% (LOL, sorry, just had to do it)

By the way, I *love* this blog (see what I did there?). I'm a lurker, but this post made me want to comment. :)

stewbie2 said...

What a joy kill. That "Lexicographer" is a MORON. Look? Did everyone see that "scare" tactic i used?

Anonymous said...

Again, this goes back to newspapers using linotype machines where it was extremely difficult to insert italics or even underlining. Every place else, including manual typewriters, underlining is preferred for adding emphasis. As for the sack quote, I would suspect the quotes have more to do with the Britishism, "sack," in place of the more common American "bag." Italics are commonly used in formal printing when using foreign words, though normally not alternate forms of English.

Anonymous said...

"And when bolding or underlining is not possible? When in underlining impossible? Even on a hand-written sign you can always draw a line!"

Before the invention of RTF, underlining was impossible in emails and on Usenet. Hence the form _underline_, which appears across the Usenet archives, now run by Google Groups and formerly owned by Deja News.