Tuesday, August 24, 2004

'Whether,' or Not

A cousin of the "everything from [blank] to [blank]" school of giving examples is the non-whether-related use of "whether."

MAKES SENSE: He plays hard, whether it's the U.S. Open or a silly pro-am.

NOT SO MUCH: The resort offers a variety of activities, whether it's lying on the beach or taking trapeze lessons.

The error might be hard to spot because the usage is so common, but what is "whether" doing in that last sentence?

Saturday, August 14, 2004


From my rant on "k.d. lang" and other decorative capitalization in "Lapsing Into a Comma":

If I could be guaranteed that a gender-bending Canadian torch-twang-pop singer would be the only person ever to be associated with the all-lowercase conceit, I'd be inclined to cap and let cap. But people are weird, and they're not getting any less so. It won't be long before reporters start submitting man-on-the-street quotes from "john smith."

From a Columbia News Service article on "cuddle parties":

REiD (the mix of capital and small letters is by choice) Mihalko, 36, and Marcia Baczynski, 26, self-described healers and sex educators in Manhattan, originally conceived of cuddle parties as a way for their friends, deprived of human touch, to get a regular dose of nonsexual human contact.

UPDATE, Sept. 2: GQ tells us about "REiD (yes, that's how he writes it)." Apparently the G stands for "dumb-" and the Q stands for "-shit."

Thursday, August 05, 2004

If You're Not Possessive About Your Children . . .

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. No apostrophe. Unreal. Would you trust these peopleses with your singular child?

(Update: I wrote to the hospital through its Web site, and a PR person was nice enough to answer. Apparently this question comes up a lot. It seems the error is an old one, and attempts to insert the apostrophe have been rebuffed by staff lawyers in the name of consistency with the articles of incorporation. Still reprehensible, but to my mind not as bad as the newfangled-branding-strategy explanation I had expected.)