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Words, June 19



This little piccie went to market:

“Scientific American has a nice article listing the top five mistakes that photo-fakers make when they use photoshop to doctor piccies.”

I'm not sure but what calling photographs piccies isn't worse than faking photographs. We're adopting a new rule around here: “One who says piccies will be beaten with sticcies.” That should put a stop to it.

(A late bulletin – “Photo maven Brian Chilson said today in Little Rock that he'd never heard ‘piccies.' ”)


The world's tallest bale bondsman was a total loss:

“SAC CITY, IA—A category F4 tornado ravaged large sections of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin Sunday, killing 15 people and irreparably damaging four of the world's largest novelty objects, including a prized 150-foot fiberglass muskie and a two-ton bail of hay in Minnesota.” The disaster report, from The Onion, was satire. The misspelling was sincere.



“If everyone was like Crawford and Ingram, there would be no problems with summer basketball … “

Terry M. Poynter of Mountain Home writes: “Does anybody, except dinosaurs like me, still observe the rules of grammar regarding the subjunctive mood (mode?) when expressing the hypothetical? According to the rules my mother taught me, and to a lesser extent the public school system, the verb in that sentence should have been ‘were.' ”

Usage manuals devote pages to the subjunctive mood (or mode, either is correct). Poynter's example deals with the contrary-to-fact use of the subjunctive, so we'll stick to that. Success With Words says: “Many people say if I was you, and in British English this is considered a correct alternative; but in North American English it is felt to be strongly colloquial, if not entirely wrong.” Poynter is correct, dinosaurian though he may be.


n Herald to the almost-chief:

“A lot of historic barriers have been busted through in this presidential year, and another looms: Could both running mates herald from Arkansas?” Gwen Moritz writes: “Is herald used correctly in this item from US News and World Report? I would have used hail from.” Me too.


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