A Quartet of Quandaries

        The following are just recent examples of bloopers or boners in English usage found in several contexts.  One “hobby” that has kept me from greater mischief over the past several decades has been to collect and classify such boners or inadvertent linguistic “booboos.” 

        Not too long after I retired from UNCP at the end of 1996,  I spent considerable time reviewing and classifying the collection I had already had into 25 typed pages and 14 categories.  Since then, I have added to the general collection but have not reclassified.  Before not too long, I may get up enough gumption (now there’s a good American word) to provide a “first edition” online in this blog.

In the meantime, let us consider these four examples taken from the “Observer” or from UNCP E-messages with the last few days. 

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to identify what you think is “wrong” with the locution,  why you think it is “wrong,” and what you would do, without major surgery,  to improve upon it.  Or you could just decide to study your navel or go on to more satisfying chores.

(1)  A “bread-and-butter” note from the UNCP Director of the Center for Leadership & Service thanking those who helped support a recent project:  “The UNCP . . . Campus Advisory Board and the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) sends out a hardy ‘Thank  you’ to all students, faculty, and staff who came out and supported the . . . (Fun) Raiser. . . .”

(2)  In an AP story by Ben Feller February 4 about an activity involving the “First Family”:  “They ended up at a Washington public school, greeted by children who could care less about the collapse of a Cabinet secretary nomination.”

 (3)  As part of an ongoing concern about plagiarism in UNCP classrooms,  from a UNCP Professor:  “. . . many of the studies on students point to them knowingly fail[ing] to cite.”  [I made one correction to what I had jotted down, feeling that maybe I had misquoted.  There is still at least one other concern.]

(4)  From the Sports section of Sunday’s newspaper. It concerned a report on promising offensive players who ended up transferring and playing on Division II football teams. This one is about a University of Virginia recruit, Kevin McCabe:  “The man who’s touchdown pass led Virginia to the only overtime victory in school history back in 2007, went from No. 1 to No. 3 on the Cavalier depth chart just one game later that season.”

Have fun!



13 Responses to “A Quartet of Quandaries”

  1. Daryl Cobranchi Says:

    1) “Send” not “sends”
    2) Couldn’t care less
    3) “Studies on” is a very strange construction. I’d have replaced “on” with “of.” I think I’d have also finished the sentence with “their sources.”
    4) “whose” not “who’s”

  2. Tammy Stephens Says:

    1) Capitalizing thank?
    2) Capitalizing cabinet?
    3) recite?
    4) I agree with Daryl

  3. Marshall Faircloth Says:

    1. Hearty not Hardy
    2. Couldn’t not could
    3. Their not them
    4. Whose not who’s

  4. Marena Groll Says:

    Staring at navel.

    Not because there are more satisfying chores. Because I thought they all sounded pretty good.

    I’m going to flunk and be kicked out of the breakfast Club.

  5. Daryl Cobranchi Says:


    Good catch on #3. I’ll stand pat with my answers for the rest. 🙂

  6. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Please don’t feel that way. My answers are never right (far off), but it’s fun to guess. Maybe, one day we can beat the men on these, lol. We have too keep trying, I bet they will have to go out of town sometime. 🙂 They’re well above my head, but I enjoy looking up words/phrases they use, that I don’t know. Learning. We are all good at different things. The world would be hurting, if not. Can we challenge them to a softball game or running a nursery for a day?

  7. Marshall Faircloth Says:

    Daryl: I agree with you on #1, it s/b ‘send’ since the subject is plural. But in the context, ‘hardy’ will work but ‘hearty’ is more correct.

    To the ‘gals’ 😉 : I was always a whiz at math but had relatively weak verbal skills. Prodigious reading as an adult have helped me balance the scales a little.

  8. Forest Crump Says:

    Marena, you and I can share a booth together 🙂 nice navel.

  9. Marshall Faircloth Says:

    Man, I think it’s cool if one can see one’s navel w/o a mirror, lmao.

  10. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Another woman thing. 🙂 Men must be built differently. We were built second right? If you first don’t succeed try-try again. 🙂
    Just joking!
    It sure is nice to have another woman around.

  11. Marena Groll Says:

    I just tuned back in to this conversation. It’s hard for me to respond right now. I’m laughing too hard reading through it. You’re a good group of people.

    I’m having my husband read the examples to see how he does. He is more of the “History King” in the family. I’m more likely to give him a run for his money on current events.

    Note to self: Navel check. Move treadmill back into line of sight.

    PS Note to self: I need to come to Raymond’s class more often. I don’t think I ever had a “grip on writing and talking” to lose.

    Tammy, whispering an aside here, they obviously need us.

  12. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Just like they wouldn’t admit to it, don’t tell them, but I’ve needed them some too. But, that’s just between us.

    For the record, they are men. And we know how men can be.

  13. Raymond Rundus Says:

    I much appreciate all of the replies and suggestions. Marshall F.’s is the most concise and fits in best with my concerns as a reader/interpreter.
    (1) I do think that “hearty” is a better choice than its close cousin in spelling and sound, “hardy.” We don’t write “wholehardily,” for example. Darryl C.’s emendation of “sends” to “send” I also had taken note of, but it can be more easily justified if one thinks of the two agencies as partners and thus in effect, like “salt and pepper” (we usually don’t say, “Are the salt and pepper on the table?”).
    (2) A professional journalist ought to know better than to write “could care less” when “could not care less” is the accurate locution. Mr. Feller was probably frightened in the sixth grade by a teacher who ferociously pronounced, “A double negative makes a positive!” and thus was confused the rest of his writing life.
    (3) Right on here with the changing of “them” to “their” and with a nod in agreement that the use of “on” in that sentence is at least awkward. “Of” or “about” would seem better to me. But why “their”? because “their,” the possessive form is needed as a modifier of “feeling,” which is a gerund, an “-ing word” used as a noun.
    (4) “Who’s” is the casual, shorter form of “who is.” We would not say or write, “The man who is touchdown pass led Virginia . . . .” Same for the very frequent confusion of “it’s” and “its.”

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