So, then why did I send three pages of corrections back to the publisher? And the corrections
included typos, continuity errors, and the misuse of a character’s name.
This reality check (useful whenever I think I’m infallible) reminded me of a blog I had posted in January, 2010, titled “Typos and Other Errors.” (You can access it on my original website at: http://rabbiavivacohenmysteries.com/meanderings-2/typos-and-other-errors/.) To my embarrassment, a friend of mine, on reading the blog, emailed me that I had misspelled “naval” as “navel.” And I pride myself on knowing the difference between “faze” and “phase,” when to use “it’s” and “its,” and the correct spellings of “their,” there,” and “they’re.” I even know the proper placement of punctuation marks inside or outside quotation marks.
Proper grammar was drummed into my classmates and me during our six years at Girls’ Latin School in Boston. I still cringe when I hear “He graduated college.” I know “He graduated from college” is now accepted, but I still use “He was graduated from college.” And when I use “hopefully,” rather than, “I hope,” or “It is to be hoped,” it’s when I’m writing some dialogue for people who may not know the difference. And I always say “It is different from . . .” rather than “It is different than . . .”
But I refuse to accept the singularization (yeah, I made up the word) of plural nouns, as normative as they now may be. “The data show . . .” and “the datum shows . . .” are the correct forms. So are the expressions “the medium is . . .” and “the media are . . .” (Marshall McCluhan did not write a book titled The Media Is the Message.) And when I’m taking an antibiotic, it’s because I am infected with “a bacterium,” not with “a bacteria.”
I blame my grammatical intolerance of the misuse of those words on the six years I suffered through . . . I mean endured . . . I mean attended Latin classes. The only other useful skill I’ve taken away from all those years of Latin is an ability to complete crossword puzzles in pen. As for the flotsam, I still recall the first thing we learned after “amo, amas, amat,” namely, Julius Caesar’s opening sentence to his Gallic Wars, “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres.” And I had to Google it to make sure I remembered the words in the correct order. (I hadn’t.)
But there are two common errors that make me grind my teeth: the pluralization (another neologism – I’ve always wanted to use that word outside of crossword puzzles) of “doesn’t,” and the use of the subjective case after “between.”Sorry, all you offenders out there, but “she don’t . . .” is incorrect, even though “I don’t . . .” is correct. And we never say “between we,” so why do people often say, “between you and I”?
Conclusion: I am very relieved that I grew up speaking English. I doubt if I could ever have mastered all the irregularities and inconsistencies in the language. And, judging from what I hear and read these days, neither have many native English speakers.
Now, excuse me. I need to proofread this blog before I post it. Hopefully, between you and I, there are no typoes or erors.