What’s going on at Yahoo?

There’s something really weird going on at yahoo.com. The number of bone-headed mistakes on that page has exploded. Is it a new writing staff? A bunch of interns hired for the summer? Outsourcing to a non-English-speaking country? Here’s just some of the things spotted on today’s Yahoo! front page.

If the marathon you’re writing about is in Boston, it’s the Boston Marathon (with a big M). That’s not the only thing I’d quibble about, though. I can’t say I agree with the statement that “retrievers are used to distract” people. There are many, many documented benefits to petting a dog, including lowering blood pressure:

fp marathon

Here’s a use of chide that’s new to me: It’s used as a transitive verb (meaning it has a direct object, in this case decision), so it means “to reprimand or scold mildly.” I don’t think anyone was chiding the decision — the person who made the decision, maybe was chided.

fp chided

Ah, the old subject-verb disagreement. There can’t be any disagreement that the subject is tenor and the verb should be is. Also, there’s that dangling modifier at the beginning of the sentence, which appears to modify tenor (which makes no sense), though it likely should modify the writing on the boat:

fp tenor are

OK, here’s a mystery for you: What was Iran stockpiling? Government cheese? This doesn’t contain a grammatical or spelling error. This is what is known as an error of omission: It tells you nothing.

fp stockpile

I almost spit out my sugar-free, nonfat vanilla latte when I read this:

fp cafe

The name of that café is a mouthful, n’est-ce pas? The hilarity continues when you realize that the poor French-challenged writer has mashed up Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots.

If you’re reading something online right now (and I think you are), then according to Yahoo!, that is the reason you procrastinate. It is not what you do when you procrastinate, it is the cause of the procrastination. Good to know.

fp procrastinate

Here’s one you can disagree with, but according to the American Heritage Dictionary, the preferred spelling in the U.S. is disk:

fp disc

And we’re back to that old bugaboo — matching a subject (series) with its verb (hint: it shouldn’t be show):

fp series show

Finally, there’s another preferred spelling: light-years (with a hyphen):

fp light years

Whew! That’s all for now. And by that I mean, I’m going to go get two Advils and lie down.

Let’s relegate that to the language dumpster

Let’s relegate the use of a hyphen after an adverb ending in -LY  to the Grammar Slammer. While we’re at it, let’s make a citizen’s arrest and haul in the Yahoo! Shine writer who also thinks that delegating is the right word:

delegating shine

I had never heard (or read) anyone use delegate when relegate was the word that was called for — until I started reading Yahoo!. Relegate means “to assign to an obscure place, position, or condition.” Delegate means “to commit or entrust to another.”

Make up your mind!

The writers at Yahoo! Shine can’t seem to make up their mind: Is it hyphenated or not?

makeup shine hp

This kind of embarrassing inconsistency is the reason that a website that is serious about the quality of its content has a style guide and a standard dictionary and requires its writers and editors to adhere to both.

Well known for all the wrong reasons

Writers are just as well known for omitting hyphens (in brand-new, for example) as they are for using the wrong word. Case in point: This sentence from Yahoo! Sports:

brand new sports

Best- and worst-case scenarios

What’s the best-case scenario for the Yahoo! front page? That you’d never find a misspelling, typo, missing word, or ugly grammar ever. What’s the worst-case scenario? That you’d find all that and more on yahoo.com. Those are the best- and worst-case scenarios.

But is that what the writer for yahoo.com meant here?

fp best worst-case

What the writer actually wrote was: Best scenarios and worst-case scenarios. Without the suspensive hyphen in best-, there’s no way to tell that it is associated with the word case. A suspensive hyphen shows the omission of a repeated word. It’s a way to avoid saying “best-case, worst-case scenarios.”

The use of the suspensive hyphen is a mystery to many Yahoo! scribes. Maybe the writer for yahoo.com was following the lead of the Einstein at Yahoo! Sports who wrote this:

best case sports 1

or the person who wrote this headline:

best case sports 2

It’s like an epidemic of punctuation omissions over at Yahoo!.

A news source you can trust?

How many typos, misspellings, and wrong word choices does it take before you question the credibility of a news article? If the article is written by a Yahoo! News staffer, I start with an attitude of skepticism, which is buttressed by the errors that are sure to be there.

I can count on there being at least one homophonic error. In this article, the writer claims an ice sculpture was discretely wheeled into a hotel suite:

cpac 1

Unless that sculpture was delivered in bits of ice cubes, it was brought in discreetly, so as not to attract attention.

A typo in a photo caption isn’t the worst thing you’ll find in the article:

cpac 2

But a second homophonic error just might be:

cpac 3

Perhaps it’s a rite of passage at Yahoo! News: You can’t get a byline until you’ve made at least three boneheaded mistakes in a single article.

Here’s a makeshift spelling of makeshift:

cpac 4

There’s nothing wrong with this paragraph except for the arbitrarily capitalized former and the spelling of Dinesh D’Souza and Cathy McMorris Rodgers:

cpac 5

Two of those mistakes would get you sent to the woodshed in a legitimate news organization. But wait! There’s more! Here, the writer claims there was a big band consisting of 16 pieces:

cpac 7

and yet in the photo caption, he’s added a musician:

cpac 6

Perhaps the writer was enjoying the contents of the kegerator when he wrote this:

cpac 8

and then forgot that if you use a dollar sign, you shouldn’t also use the word bucks (because that would be “20 dollars bucks”):

cpac 9

So, I’m not trustin’ too much (if anything) I read from this author. I guess for some, getting an article published is all that matters:

cpac 10

Unfortunately this isn’t rarely seen

It’s a common error on yahoo.com — and throughout Yahoo! where its writers and editors lurk — but I wish it were rarely seen:

fp rarely-seen pix

That hyphen joining the adverb rarely and the adjective that follows it is a problem. It’s just unnecessary and wrong.  Just as it is here, too:

fp newly-engaged

When an adverb ending in -LY is followed by an adjective, there’s no need for the hyphen; the -LY is the signal to the reader that the adverb modifies the word that follows it.

What NFL offensive free agents don’t get

If you’re an NFL offensive free agent, don’t expect the same treatment as defensive free-agents — at least not on Yahoo! Sports:

free agents sports

That hyphen belongs to free-agents of the defensive kind. Never mind that most legitimate media companies have little things known as guidelines and standards for spelling words specific a topic like sports. It’s far preferable to spell some words with a hyphen and without a hyphen. It keeps things from getting boring for the reader. And it separates the defensive from the offensive.

Was it a surprise?

Were the editors at Yahoo! Sports taken by surprise by the Sochi Olympics? Did they not know in advance that it would take place this year and that perhaps, maybe, perchance, they might want to prepare for covering the Games? One thing they might have done: Standardize the spelling of some events so that they could avoid embarrassing inconsistencies like this:

super g sports

Wrestling with the language

English is a difficult language to learn, what with its many verb tenses, irregular verbs, and puzzling idioms. So, let’s be kind to the writer for Yahoo! News’ “Trending Now” as he attempts to master the language while he’s being paid to write in it.

that has had news

First, don’t be too hard on him for not knowing there should be two hyphens in 16-year-old. Writing an age without the correct number of hyphens is one of the top three hyphen errors you’ll find on Yahoo!.

Then there’s that “that has had,” which we all know should be “who have had.” Using who is preferred over that when referring to a human being (it’s a matter of politesse).

Finally, there’s the issue of Hodgkin’s lymphoma (the only letter that is capitalized is H). I cannot wrap my head around a diagnosis going into remission, unless it was wrong and the doctor took it back. (“Great news, son. You don’t have Hodgkin’s lymphoma so I retracting my diagnosis and putting it in remission.”)

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