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To of and of not

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Our agents in the field have been doing grand work. Victory over Bad English seems assured.

Steve Barger of Conway reviewed a letter from University of Arkansas trustee Sam Hilburn to UA President Donald R. Bobbitt. Hilburn, a North Little Rock lawyer, objected to the hiring of John L. Smith as the new gridiron czar at Fayetteville. Hilburn wrote: "John Smith was a total failure as a special teams coach. If he were that good, Coach Petrino would not of let him go."

Barger's assessment: "Using 'of' as a phonetic approximation of the contracted 'have' (e.g., would've) reflects such poor understanding of language that I have come to expect it only from the text messages of modern teenagers. (In my day, teenagers' language skills were beaten on the forge of sentence diagrams and only slipped from perfection with atrophy once we left the correcting influence of high school English classes.) This instance is actually worse because it's not even the contraction ending that has been replaced, the 'not' having obviated that usage. It's terribly demoralizing to see such an error in a trustee; on the board of an institution of higher learning, to boot!"

Gene Pfeifer of Little Rock infiltrated the communications network of Southwest Airlines to make a bust. He writes: "I was making a reservation and got pretty far down in the process and came across this: 'How can we get a hold of you?' At least they didn't spell it 'holt' as it is usually pronounced."

George Gatliff went the last mile, exposing rot in the pages of the Arkansas Times itself. George may be a little too diligent. Anyway, he writes: "In the 'Comment' section of the April 18 Arkansas Times, Turrialbaguy wrote 'He [Mayor Casey Laman] gave his heart, mind, body and sole to NLR.' Did he mean that the Mayor gave the reporter the boot?" (Turrialbaguy had identified himself as a former reporter who'd covered North Little Rock and Laman.)

Error on the throe:

"Indeed, this was the meaning of the word 'miserables' — the riffraff and rabble, the superfluous and scum, all thrown up by a society in the throws of rapid industrialization and financial speculation."

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