The Verbal Vigilante Back to plusaf's home page

So, you might have had the idea that spelling and grammar aren't being taught well in schools today?
Check out some of these "winners" (latest ones on top):


Gallerie de Bautte

"Steal Pendulum Clock"

Sorry he's still using frames, so click in the left frame on "Modern Clocks." So, if the message is to "steal pendulum clocks," it really should say clocks, not clock. On the other hand, welders [oops, artists] may not need to be proficient in English if their works sell [or get stolen often enough to demonstrate their value in the market...]. Can you spell "Steel" if that's what you meant?

From an 11.02.2004 email.....

Here will live the goofs from Neil George, KCI Communications, Inc. []

It isn't that hard to push a sharp metal point through a piece of thin cardboard or to read the ballot and make sure I'm voting for the correct fellows (and against some hair-brained new tax initiative).

Neil, the term you really were looking for was hare-brained. i.e., with the intellectual power of a bunny.


Another from ...John Mauldin's Weekly E-Letter

When I suggest that things will not be all that bad, that we are not headed for a depression or worse and that gold is merely a neutral currency I am met with blank stairs [sic].

While I love John's writings on finance and investing, I think I'm going to need to add a section here just for him.... (stares, John, not stairs; I won't even bother to explain why).... just remember, a spell-checker will not catch this kind of error. Is it a "typo" or a "think-o." At the very least, it's a "spell-o."


From another [financial] newsletter...John Mauldin's Weekly E-Letter

"This is not my usual gentile style, as I take the gloves off."

Ah, "Gentile" is a term used to describe "Non-Jewish People." They usually leave their gloves on???
The content of the e-letter is much better than some grammar and usage, though... :) and he is generally a very genteel writer!

June 21, 2003

from a newsletter I used to receive...

[Reproductions. If you would like to reproduce any of Gary Halbert's E-Letters or commentary, you must include the source of your quote and the following email address: Please write to and inform us of any reproductions including where and when the copy will be reproduced.]
Well, you did insist...

"The public will be waiting with baited breath...."

ah, well, let's check the ol' dictionary....

"USAGE NOTES: The word baited is sometimes incorrectly substituted for the etymologically correct but unfamiliar word bated ("abated; suspended") in the expression bated breath."
Excerpted from American Heritage Talking Dictionary
Copyright © 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Guarenteed Mastercard with a minimum $250.00 credit line. [and]
Guarenteed Credit Card!!!, Travel Discounts Plus MUCH more........

Thenks,, but no thenks....

August 5, 2000.... Want to take financial advice from these guys?...Porter Stansberry's Investment Advisory, August, 2000...

"The statistics bare out what we should all realize intuitively:"

Well, that should uncover the facts and get them out in the open....
..but didn't you really mean, "bear"? I think so.

Heck, what could be worse? A bare market? [sorry...]

July 24, 2000.... Why can't the spammers grammar well? You know the answer...
T'anks, anyway,, but no t'anks....

"Your a few clicks away from $20.00 in FREE CASH."

Yes, you are [you're] !

March, 1999.... Now, this isn't a real Verbal Vigilante issue, but doesn't literacy count?

Parking Lot Scene at the Spouting Horn, Kauai, Hawaii. Can you read the words on the parking lot pavement, "Buses Only"?

February 12, 1998.... Walking down the Strip in Las Vegas, approaching the Island Plaza shopping center, opposite New York New York and next to the MGM Grand....
Their electric billboard spelling out all of the neat things that have recently arrived, summarizing your good luck by saying,


July 7, 1997.... I'm standing in front of a shelf at Sears, in the Paint section.
Just above the "Olympic Stain" products is a label, "All Olympic Stane Save $3.00"

A cash bargain; a spelling deficit....

Making Diffusion safer for us all... by pulling the plug on it?
From Popular Science Magazine, May 1997, page 48: caption on the photo in the lower left corner of the page:
"The lighter gases defused more rapidly into the rock...."
Did they really mean de-fuse: tr.v. 1. To remove the fuse from (an explosive device). 2. To make less dangerous? How about....
dif-fuse: v. 1. To pour out and cause to spread freely. 2. To spread about or scatter; disseminate.

More people not getting their sights set on the difference between sight, cite and site!
This one from a mailing from Microsoft Corporation!.....
"Meeting, scheduling, Bulletin Boards, customer tracking and task management will be discussed. Customer examples will be sited."

Maybe they just got back from the Martian Lander site (see below)

More people confusing the Subjects and Objects....
From a mailing from Ambassador Tours.....
"Most of our friends are tired of hearing my wife, Chris, and I rave about Crystal Cruises." ... and ... "If you're anything like Chris and I,..."

Back to basics.... We're still having trouble splitting those phrases apart, aren't we? Would you say, "...our friends are tired of hearing I rave about....."??? Hopefully, not likely!
Try it with the second one, too: "If you're anything like I,....." Well, I can't get any further than that before I know that I is not the right word to use there! For $2.50 US per page, the Verbal Vigilante will proofread your work: advertising copy, resumes, etc.!

Homogeneous. Here's how to pronounce it:
(accent heaviest on the third syllable.

However, you'll hear lots of people pronounce it like this: Ho-Mah"-juh-niss'.
Are they confusing:
Homogeneous (Uniform in structure or composition throughout) with
Homogenize (To make uniform in consistency, as in milk), which is pronounced Ho-Mah"-juh-nize' ? That's the Verbal Vigilante's bet.

How do you pronounce "Nuclear"?Whether it's a reactor or a family, you're part of a large cohort if you mispronounce it as "NOO-Kyoo-Luhr".[The dean of a local community college used to pronounce it that way in front of an auditorium of thousands of fairly literate people!]

Whether it's your nuclear family or your (your?!) nuclear reactor, the pronunciation is:


Just look at the spelling: nu cle ar. The clues are right there.

The first time I saw this one, it was on a Home Depot shipping label for a plastic toolshed. It resurfaced recently on a "Collectors Cabinet", sold by SMC, the "Select Merchandise CompanY", of Gardena, CA:

"Wall brackets to hang verticle or horizontal"

Well, you might think they'd have gotten a clue from horizontal?
The way you can hang it is vertical, team!

And special thanks on 8/1/00 to Matt M. for catching the Verbal Vigilante getting too excited about "verticle" versus "vertical" and missing the grammatical point that the brackets hang vertically or horizontally !     Thanks, Matt!

Direct to you from Gallerie De Bautte on the WWWeb...

Congratulations to Gallerie De Bautte! Many of the typos and spelling and grammatical errors have been corrected!

The metalwork is quite attractive, too!

  • Bordeaux: "with neon light $790.00 with out neon." ... without the space, please!
  • Avignon: "Its a vertical rack..."? The meaning here is: "it is", and the contraction requires an apostrophe: "it's".... still.

    "I was afraid we'd loose the game."

    The word is "Lose" [looz], not "Loose" [loos], and it puzzles the heck out of me how this mistake can occur. You may set something loose, but only if it doesn't come back, can you say that you really did lose it!

    And again, 5/14/97 in...
    "Luann" comic by Greg Evans, San Jose Mercury News...
    Bernice says to Luann, "Stealing?! I didn't steal Gunther from you, Luann. You cut him lose so you could be with Aaron!"

    "Ballard Street" comic by Jerry Van Amerongen, San Jose Mercury News...

    "Chuck suddenly wonders if ringing [sic] one's hands has the same sanitary effects as washing one's hands --- thus worrying himself out of a flu shot"

    How about "wringing" those hands, Jerry?

    From the Weight Watchers ® "Penne Pollo" package, Microwave Cooking Directions....

    Well RING my chimes, Weight Watchers® ? but that word isn't apPEALing to me! You should have used the word peel"!

    "So," the manager said, "give the report to Joe or myself."
    Also, from a memo I received on 3/3/97: "On Tuesday... Mark and myself will change the configuration...."

    Gasp, choke! You're asking me to "give the report to Joe... or to give the report to myself?"

    Break items like this in two:

    Give the report to Joe. ... and ...
    Give the report to .... myself?!

    Much better to say: "Give the report to me" !

    Check some dictionary examples.....

    a. Used reflexively: I bought myself a new car. b. Used for emphasis: I myself was certain of the facts. c. Used in an absolute construction: In office myself, I helped her get a job.
    © The American Heritage Dictionary

    "All this happens within site of the lander."
    (From a prestigious astronomy magazine)

    A site is a location; the intended meaning was "within view of".

    Do you think that's what the writer had their sights set on? ....And missed? ....

    "Superior Growth Path to the Competition"
    (From a product family slide at my company, a few years ago.]

    Do you think that the author might have meant to say, "Growth Path Superior to the Competition's"?

    They really didn't mean that our product was a better way to get to to the competitors' products!

    "Technical World Like Bicycle, Peddle Hard or Fall"
    (From an article in InterExpress, 12/94, a publication of Interex, one-time user's group for Hewlett-Packard]

    I thought it might have been a typo, but the article's text continued...
    "No matter what you did, you were always behind and peddling your bicycle faster and faster trying to keep up...." and " long as you were able to keep peddling along...." !

    Yes, you'd better "peddle" [sell] hard, or your sales may fall, but with the references to bicycles, the author really should have used the word "pedal" !

    We'd like <seperate tables, please....

    The word may look like it's pronounced seperate, but it's spelled separate.

    Hint: a "paring" knife separates the peel from the apple.

    The i-e or e-i Problem

    There are quite a few words with ei in them. Remember "i before e, except after c, or when sounded like a, as in neighbor and weigh"?

    There are more exceptions. Here are some of them. Can you find more?

    The Kludge Mistake

    The American Heritage Dictionary puts it this way:

    kludge or kluge ("klooj") n. Slang. A system, especially a computer system, that is constituted of poorly matched elements or of elements originally intended for other applications. [Origin unknown.] --kludge v. --kludgy adj.

    People spell it "kludge". Heck, even the dictionary spells it "kludge"! But what's wrong here?

    It's pronounced "klooj", right? You pronounce it that way, right? Rhymes with Scrooge, right? Sooooo....
    Where did the "d" come from?!!

    If it's named after someone called "Kludge", and that's how he/she pronounced their name, that's all well and good. On the other hand, I offer you the following fairly common English words and I ask you to say them out loud with me....

    Do you sense something wrong with this pattern?

    I'll bet the original spelling came from a spelling-challenged individual...
    Spell it kluge, starting today!

    On 07.15.2004, I was corrected by Roedy Green, Canadian, who emphatically informed me that:
    "The word is pronounced in my part of the world to rhyme with fudge, and rarely as kloodge. But almost never klooge. So kludge is the natural spelling as well."

    Thanks, Roedy! I sit, corrected.

    But if they pronounce it "klooj" where you live, you still might want to reconsider the spelling... :)

    sic (sik) adv. Thus; so. Used in written texts to indicate that a surprising or paradoxical word, phrase, or fact is not a mistake and is to be read as it stands. [Latin.] © The American Heritage Dictionary
    Also see The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)