Nothing says ‘I don’t give a crap’ like umf

There’s lots of bad writing on the Internet, even by paid professionals. And when they don’t give a crap about their writing, you’ll likely see factual errors, misspellings, and incorrect word choices. That’s what I was thinking when I read this on Yahoo! Travel:

breakfast travel 1

This is allegedly about something called “Hearty Eggs,” but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s really about haggis. It’s clear the writer was a tad confused about her subject, just as she was confused about the difference between further and farther, the word that refers to real, physical distance.

But nothing says “I don’t give a sh*t” like umf, which I take to be a lazy writer’s attempt at oomph. Umf is not a word, but it is an abbreviation and according to the Urban Dictionary it means “ugly motherf***er,” which I don’t think the writer meant. Although if she reads this, she may be thinking that.

Not a geography expert?

Not the winner of the National Geographic Bee, but still think you got what it takes to write about places around the world? No worries! You can write for the Yahoo! front page, where knowledge of geography (or just about any subject) is not required:

fp cabo

Even if you think that there’s a town named Cabo in a Mexican state called San Lucas, you could work at yahoo.com. Imagine how far you’d get if you actually know that the city is Cabo San Lucas.

Maybe you should learn to read first

Before attempting to become a professional writer, make sure you can read. It makes things a lot easier for you and helps ensure the accuracy of what you write. I’m thinking that if the writer for Yahoo! Style were a better reader, she might not have mistaken the word married for met:

married met style

I guess it’s possible that the writer just couldn’t hold that many words in her brain when it came time to type the quotation. That’s possible. I guess.

If only there were a way…

If only there were a way the writers for Yahoo! Music could verify the title of an album — like a picture of the cover. That way, they might actually get the title correct —  without any extra words:

in keeping 1

I guess there’s just no way to check the title. And that all the folks at Yahoo! really think the album title includes the word the:

in keeping 2

The most irresponsible news site on the Web

Anyone looking for accurate news should steer clear of Yahoo! News. The so-called news site has made one of the most irresponsible — and completely inaccurate — claims concerning the case of a shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old African American by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. According to Yahoo!, there is a previously undiscovered video of the victim raising his hands in the air:

ferg news 1

If that were true, it would be critical evidence in a case that has rocked the entire nation.

Long-time readers of Terribly Write know that anything reported by Yahoo! should be considered suspect. The actual article, written by the Associated Press (a more reliable source that Yahoo!’s “journalists”) tells a different story:

ferg news 2

Amongst your words, that is the most pretentious

The new site Yahoo! Style may be setting some records in the number and severity of errors that it displays every day. These errors from a recent article are among the most amateurish on the site:

font style 1

The word amongst is a synonym for among. Is it wrong? Not exactly, but it’s just not as common in the U.S. as it is in other English-speaking countries. And Americans aren’t all that fond of the word. The OxfordWords blog sums up the sentiment of many Americans:

[M]any authorities (such as Garner’s Modern American Usage) and language blogs state that, in US English, amongst is now seen as old-fashioned, and even ‘pretentious’. If you are a US English speaker, therefore, and you don’t want to come across to your audience as out of date or, heaven forbid, linguistically la-di-da, then it’s advisable to opt for among.

As for the other error in that paragraph, I believe there’s a mismatch between the subject designer and the verb, which should be tells. I can’t be sure since there appears to be some extra words, but I think the writer promises to let us know what the designer is listening to. That is simply a lie. The interview that follows does not include any such info.

The interviewer was clearly in the dark about Josef Albers’ “Interaction of Color,” which is a book. The designer was also influenced by the Blaschkas, a father and son, and not just one misspelled person:

font style 2

It would have been nice (and expected from a real site with any integrity) to check the references made by the person being interviewed. But this is Yahoo!, and journalistic integrity is not a priority.

Also not a priority? Punctuation. At least, correct punctuation is not a priority. Maybe someone will tell us about the process the writer has for distinguishing between a question and an imperative sentence:

font style 3

What kind of fur does a caterpillar have?

What kind of fur does a caterpillar have? The kind that requires quotation marks. The folks at yahoo.com would have you believe that the puss caterpillar has fur. It does not. It has “fur”:

fp fur caterpillar

The caterpillar’s “fur” is really setae, a hair-like covering of bristles.

The writing problem I can’t fix

In my decades of editing, I’ve come across a vast array of writing problems that I could easily correct, and maybe teach the writer something in the process. I can correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Most writers learn from the experience. But the one problem I’ve never been able to fix is a writer’s lack of logical thinking. I may be able to rewrite an illogical sentence, but I have never been able to change the thinking of the writer who constructed the nonsensical passage.

I was reminded of that when I read this opening paragraph on Yahoo! Style:

karl style

The writer contends that Karl Lagerfeld can’t be 100 years old because he has no adult children. That faulty assumption was based on a quote from Mr. Lagerfeld. But Mr. Lagerfeld said (at least according to the writer), that adult children made one look 100. Knowing that the designer has no adult children, what can you derive about his appearance? Nothing. About his age? Nothing. It’s a problem in thinking that I’d be challenged to correct.

The rest of the errors in the paragraph are easy to fix. (What’s difficult is trying to imagine how a professional writer could make them in the first place.) I have no problem with the word umpteenth, except that the writer meant umpteen.

I have no idea how “your new fashion newspaper” is related to the fashion labels it’s lumped in with. And a dozens could be charitably called a typo, though I’m not sure it is.

Does Mr. Lagerfeld own a Graf Zeppelin, a great white shark, and a copy of “Weird Al” Yankovich’s “Dare to Be Stupid”? If not, then he doesn’t literally have everything. Just get rid of that word. Or do I have to explain the logic behind that, too?

Motorola’s new Moto G, not to be confused with the other new Moto G

Motorola has introduced two new phones, both named the Moto G. How do you tell them apart? I have no idea. Perhaps the writer for yahoo.com could enlighten us:

fp moto g

(The phones are actually the Moto G and Moto X.)

Wrecking havoc with the language

Yahoo! just launched a new site called Yahoo! Style. I immediately thought that it must be better written than the rest of Yahoo!; after all, it was new! Wouldn’t the Internet giant invest in the quality of the writing of a new site? Wouldn’t Yahoo! finally hire competent editors to ensure the success of Style? I was hopeful as I jumped at the opportunity to read an article by Style’s editor in chef. Now there’s a person who must appreciate the need for quality writing.

The title promised info on dressing for extreme temperatures, so I’m thinking the heat of summer and the cold of the dead of winter:

how to dress style

By the time I’d finished the article, I’d learned about dressing for heat and for that other temperature extreme — rain. But I shouldn’t have been surprised that the writer (the editor in chief!) couldn’t figure out what he was supposed to be writing about. The more I read the more I realized he probably couldn’t figure out what language he was supposed to be writing in.

Here he takes a serious subject like global warming and reveals its true threat to humanity: It wrecks havoc on fashion:

wrecked havoc style

Well, wrecking havoc sounds good to me; that would be destroying chaos. It’d be much worse if it were wreaking (or bringing about) havoc.

Then, I read this use of then instead of than:

then seersucker style

I’m going to try to ignore the advice, which doesn’t exactly seem like it’s meant for the woman of the twenty-first century, and focus on the writing, which kinda sucks:

wearing is wearing style

When I read this, I thought wearing cotton over silk sounded odd for dressing for hot weather:

allows to breath style

But the writer (the editor in chief!) meant “prefer cotton over silk.” The rest of the stream-of-consciousness writing alleges that cottons allows [sic] the body to breath. Believe me, if your body ain’t breathing, wearing cotton isn’t going to help. The writer meant that cotton is preferable because cotton breaths (that is, it allows air to pass through it).

So, am I hopeful that Yahoo! Style will provide quality content? Not if it’s written by Yahoo! writers (and the editor in chief).

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