Grammar boo-boos and jargon-fighting tips

Our Ragan columnist can easily find grammar mistakes in even the most reputable newspapers. Can you?

Our Ragan columnist can easily find grammar mistakes in even the most reputable newspapers. Can you?

Last month on Ragan.com, Don Ranly said he never had to make good on his promise to pay his writing seminar students $5 for each grammar or punctuation mistake they found in their national and city newspapers.

Several readers disagreed with Ranly. They asserted that they could find any number of typos, misspellings and grammatical mistakes in their daily newspapers.

I decided to test their assertions by looking at a couple of recent issues of The Wall Street Journal.

Here’s what I found: Although my search was by no means scientific or exhaustive (I read only a very few stories interesting to me for other reasons), I came up with two howlers almost immediately.

In an April 24th story about an employee blogger at Miller Brewing, the reporter mentioned a Miller ad featuring dogs, specifically, Dalmations. How the reporter, his spell check, his copy editor, and the tens of thousands of dog lovers who read WSJ missed this blunder I don’t know. But the Dalmatian nation should rise up as one in protest.

A headline written for two letters in the op-ed part of the Journal for May 22nd reads: “When Workers Collective, Individual Rights Conflict.” I don’t care if apostrophes in headlines cause your copy editor to grind her teeth in her sleep, that word “Workers” must be apostrophized (after the “s”), because if a headline fails to communicate instantly and unambiguously, it fails—totally.

Readers: How about it? Can you top these examples with others taken from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and USA Today? Let’s collect a bunch of (imaginary) money from Mr. Ranly.

Jargon-fighting tips

Jargon makes my life more miserable than it need be, just as it gripes you when you have to sit through your third meeting of the day run by people who have no idea they’re using buzz words to say nothing.

Here are three tips that will help keep you from becoming a carrier of viral corporate jargon:

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