Thursday, January 25, 2007

Grammar Gal, my ass

My former boss, Elizabeth, sent me a link to an article about this woman who calls herself "Grammar Gal." According to the article, she was called in by member of the Supreme Court to mediate a dispute over whether to use Kansas' or Kansas's in an opinion. Grammar Gal has podcasts on iTunes, so I subscribed to them and have been listening to a few each day.

For the most part, the podcasts are informative, especially if grammar isn't your strong point and you want to learn something new. But today, she lost all credibility with me. The podcast was about pronouns and whether to use "who" or "that" when referring to corporations. I don't agree with how she ruled on the issue, but that's not the point.

What got me was that when talking conversationaly about members of the board of a company, she referred to them as "that" not who. This mistake is one of my biggest pet peeves. People are always, always, always whos not thats. She said something like, "In most cases big, bad corporations don't fire employes, it's the members of the board THAT do it." No, it should be "members of the board WHO do that." I could have forgiven this if she had only done it once, but she did it repeatedly, enough times that I was yelling back at the radio. I hate when I'm driven to yelling back.

So you call yourself the Grammar Gal, you're doing a show on pronouns and you don't even get the pronouns correct while you're speaking? It's baffling. I told Lisa about the mistakes, and she asked if I had already fired off a letter of admonishment. I haven't, but only because the show originally aired in August. I'm guessing she's caught a lot of heat already for the mistakes. At least I hope she has.

But now I have 20-something podcasts left to listen to, and I'm not sure if I can. How can I take her seriously now? I'll just be listening for more errors.


Anonymous said...

Oooh, that bugs me too. I esp. don't like it when columnists or TV reporters get it wrong, grammatically or idiomatically. I know we all err from time to time, but when it's your JOB and you're in the public eye or when you take on the title "Grammar Gal", you really should get it right.

Don't get me started on the misuse of the phrase "begs/begging the question." :)

Anonymous said...

For the record, according to Webster, it's conversationally not conversationaly.

hokgardner said...

Hey, I never claimed I could spell.

Anonymous said...

The misuse of "who" and "that" is probably the most prevalent in writing.....and "it's" & its"....
People just don't realize that when we communicate, we either sound intelligent, or come across as being a bit deficient in the English language, and how to write it correctly....nothing worse than people who sound like they flunked writing classes!