It’s the principle of the thing

Here’s the principal reason I dislike Yahoo! Style: The quality of writing on the site is abysmal.

principle dancers style

It’s a basic principle of mine: If you’re paid to write, you should have a basic knowledge of the language you’re writing in.

It’s the principle of the thing

If you read something on a site about a subject as important as health, you’d expect it to be accurate. But would you trust the credibility of a site like Yahoo! Health, if the writer made a mistake like this?

meditation principals

The writer, of course, meant principles (the basic elements, rules, or standards) of meditation. I wonder how many other homophonic errors this writer has made. Can we except that Yahoo! Health will feature an article on staff infections or the heartbreak of AIDES?

Some ‘Big’ mistakes

“Big” is one of my favorite Tom Hanks movies, so I was looking forward to reading this article on Yahoo! Movies about the making of the film. Oh, dopey me. I should have known that typos, misspellings, and missing words would spoil the whole experience for me.

I think the writer was a tad confused about the use of the Shift key. Except if you’re writing about e. e. cummings and, using it is generally required when trying to spell a name:

big movies 1

Doesn’t everyone know that toy store is FAO Schwarz?

big movies 2

The writer managed to spell Ms. Marshall’s name earlier in this sentence, so why couldn’t he do it again?

big movies 3

David Moscow wasn’t playing opposite all the rules or laws in the movie “Big.” He was playing opposite all the lead actors, who are sometimes called the principals:

big movies 4

Here’s something you don’t see often (thank goodness):

big movies 5

In the U.S., the word is toward (without the S); towards is chiefly British as they say in chiefly British dictionaries. But no matter which flavor of English you speak, “a long towards” makes no sense.

Which investors were they?

Are they people who invest in rules or standards of ethical behavior? Is that what principle investors are? Or is it possible that the writer for Yahoo! News meant the main or foremost — principal — investors?

principle news

Was he driving the school bus?

A driving principal is behind a photo festival in France, according to Yahoo! News. I thought he was behind the wheel:

driving principal news

Maybe before she writes another article, this writer will bone up on some basic principles of journalism.

The principal writing principle

The principal (or most important) principle (or basic rule) of writing is to know something about the language you’re writing in. The writer for Yahoo! Shine illustrates one possible outcome if you dare to violate that principle:

principal of dem shine

Thank you, Captain Obvious

Who woulda thunk it!? There it is, right on Yahoo! Shine: Anything that is negotiable is — wait for it — negotiable! Yes, everything negotiable is negotiable, except for school administrators:

It’s fairly obvious that the writer doesn’t know the difference between a principle (which is a basic truth, law, or assumption) and a principal (which is someone or something with the highest rank, like a school administrator).  You know what else is obvious? That the writer didn’t do a spell check, because even the crappiest spell checker would find this repeated word:

(Some writers don’t know that if the words within parentheses are a complete sentence, then the ending punctuation belongs inside the parentheses, too.) Oops, here’s a misplaced period:

And here’s another homophonic horror: The possessive pronoun its instead of the contraction it’s:

It’s getting more obvious that the writer doesn’t know when to use an apostrophe, because she missed one here, too:

Pronouns are pesky little things, aren’t they? They generally have to refer to a noun, and when they don’t, they just don’t make a lot of sense:

Is it asking asking too much that a professional writer proofread her work or at least use a spell checker?

Questioning his principals?

So, was there an investigation going on? Were the cops looking into some guy’s educational background, and questioning his schools’ principals?

Or was the Yahoo! Shine writer confusing a school administrator, or principal, with a rule or standard, aka a principle.?

Mitt Romney following school administrators

Is Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stalking school administrators? He admits to following principals all his political life, according to Yahoo! News‘ “The Ticket”:

You’d think that he’d be talking about his principles, like his standards of ethics and morality. But noooo.

What your writing says about your personality

 A totally unscientific study conducted by Terribly Write has found that your writing reveals a lot about your personality. Based on an analysis of a single article on  Yahoo! Shine, the study’s author concludes that the words you use and your attention to grammar and spelling can disclose personality traits and quirks. How many of these apply to you?

You don’t capitalize proper nouns: You’re a free spirit, unencumbered by the chains of grammar, unfettered by the need to recognize proper nouns with a touch of the Shift key:

You can’t distinguish between homophones: You cling to the principle that words don’t matter, that if two words are pronounced the same, then either one will do:

You overlook small typos: You believe that the smaller the word, the less important it is to communication; one indefinite article is as good as another;

You really, really don’t capitalize proper nouns: You’re a go-getter who doesn’t waste time holding down the Shift key. You have places to go! Words to mangle!

Your writing contains strings of words with no discernible meaning: You’re unconcerned about your image and the effect your mistakes have on others. “Who cares if it makes no sense!” is your personal mantra:

You really have trouble with homophones and hyphens: Despite your good intentions, you often make mistakes, whether it’s using the wrong word or omitting hyphens:

You can’t match a subject to a verb: These types of people are crowd-pleasers, who make mistakes, even if by doing so they sound a bit illiterate. Self-expression outweighs the need to avoid typos:

You ignore punctuation: You’re laid-back with a fondness for vintage abbreviations like M.D. and a disregard of correctly punctuating book titles:

You use random capital letters: You’re a fun-loving prankster who likes to play practical jokes on your readers by using capital letters indiscriminately:

You omit words: You think your readers are too stupid to notice you’ve omitted a word, but not this time, buddy:

Does this sound like you? If so, you, too, could get a job as a writer for Yahoo!.


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