Capitalizing on others’ mistakes

Here’s a rule of thumb about the Yahoo! front page: It always includes at least one error. If a word is capitalized, it probably shouldn’t be; if it isn’t, it should be:

Just like other currencies (including the peso, dollar, and drachma), euro doesn’t get a capital letter.

The word governor shouldn’t get a capital letter unless it precedes the governor’s name:

Is this wrong?

Of course it is; Wi-Fi is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Do you think the person who wrote these headlines is sorry about the incorrect capitalized words?

I don’t think so. You have to be aware of your mistakes to regret them.

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It’s opposite day!

It’s opposite day at Yahoo! News, where  words that should start with a lowercase letter, start with a capital. Like this governor:

When it doesn’t precede the governor’s name, this title should be lowercase.

And this:capitalized south, which should be lowercase since it refers to the compass direction, and not a region of the U.S.:

And this capitalized northern lights, which isn’t a proper noun:

And on opposite day, proper nouns like southern (which does refer to a region of the States in this context) should be capitalized, but aren’t:

Maybe outsourcing wasn’t such a good idea

Has Yahoo! jumped on the outsourcing bandwagon? That’s one possible explanation for the number of daily gaffes on the Yahoo! front page: The company is outsourcing the writing on yahoo.com to Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, a non-English-speaking country.

It’s a country unfamiliar with American pop culture. A country where they put single quotation marks around Duggar because they think it’s the name of a TV show. It isn’t; it isn’t even part of the name of a TV show.

Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stanians must think that seasons are proper nouns. They aren’t in the U.S. Even though the writers will try to convince you otherwise, but don’t fall for it:

They obviously don’t know how to pronounce English words, because they don’t know which indefinite article to use:

Maybe Yahoo! could do a little soul-searching and reconsider its decision:

That way, when its front page goes on display, it’ll include the correct words in common English idioms:

and titles (like president) won’t have a capital letter:

and regions of the United States (like South and Southern states) will:

I’m not implying that the folks in Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan aren’t good writers and editors. They’re just not good writers and editors in English.

What color is Queen Elizabeth?

Queen Elizabeth is blue. I don’t know if that means she’s suffering from depression or the fate of Violet Beauregarde. But according to the geniuses who write for the Yahoo! front page, the queen is the same color as the Duchess of Cambridge’s dress, which is blue:

When those Einsteins aren’t making colorful allegations, they’re destroying what’s left of the English language. According to the Associated Press style, the titles duchess and queen are not capitalized unless they precede a name.

For their edification, I offer an alternative:

The duchess matches her dress color to the queen’s…

Capital confusion

There’s inexplicable confusion about titles on the Yahoo! front page. I just don’t understand why professional writers and editors can’t figure out when to capitalize a title and when not to. Example: the Duchess of Cambridge. She gets a capital D when you refer to her full title; but when it’s just duchess? Not so much:

But the good folks over at the Internet giant are even more confused when it comes to referring to the president, President Obama:

As for Whitney’s Houston’s, I think that has something to do with the late pop singer and a city in Texas.

What’s wrong here?

What’s wrong on the home page of Yahoo! News today? Just a few things (so far), like this incorrect capitalization of president:

That word gets a capital letter only when it precedes the name of the president; otherwise, it’s just a common noun. Someone mislead the editor.

The editor was also misled about the past tense of mislead:

Maybe the person who wrote that thought that mislead is like read: The past tense of read is read, so the past tense of mislead must be mislead. Wrong.

This isn’t quite the same wreck as that, but it isn’t shipwreck, but should be:

When the speaker is right. And wrong

Displaying a profound indifference to consistency, the writer for the Yahoo! front page capitalizes speaker once and then forgets to do it again:

According to the Associated Press style, the title speaker should be capitalized only when it immediately precedes the speaker’s name.

That doesn’t even make sense

What the heck does the film “expert” over at Yahoo! Movies think this title means?

It doesn’t even make sense. Did he or she think it was a movie about a monster’s company?

The movie is “Monsters, Inc.” There’s no apostrophe in the title, but there is a comma. Now that makes sense.

Steve Jobs deserves better

When a well-known person passes away, the Web is awash with tributes. In a departure, the senior feature editor for Yahoo! Shine has written something of a tribute to the women in Steve Jobs’ life. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a grab bag of errors that’s more insulting than inspiring.

Mr. Jobs has been described as a private person and a brilliant egoist. Who knew that his wife Laurene shared those traits?

We all know that the writer made a mistake by placing that phrase before Laurene. But what can you expect from a writer who doesn’t know that Buddhist is a proper noun and the compound modifier billion-dollar needs a hyphen?

Mr. Jobs’ birth mother was a graduate student:

He was an 11-year-old:

Maybe this writer should just forget trying to use punctuation. She should just stick to using letters, numbers, and the Space bar, because she has no clue where to stick those little commas and apostrophes. And maybe she just ought to stick with writing in the present tense, because the past tense of some verbs (like forbid) alludes her (it’s forbade):

How many children did Mr. Jobs’ birth parents have? At least three, if you can believe this writer. There was Steve, his sister, and another sister:

(The fact is, his birth parents had another child, a daughter.) It looks like Piper is starting to take my advice and omit punctuation. She’s dropped a comma and the quotation marks around the book title. Good start!

Oops. She’s fallen back on her old ways and included an apostrophe where it doesn’t belong:

and a comma where it has no business being:

There’s more problems with her use of the Shift key when it comes to Zen Buddhist and Stanford business school. (Only the full name of the school, Stanford Graduate School of Business should be capitalized.) Readers can’t overlook the mismatch of program and foster (which should be fosters):

It’s meant to be some sort of tribute to the women in Steve Jobs’ life, but it’s really a tribute to carelessness and grammatical ignorance.

How to make your company look bad

Want to make your employer look bad? It’s not hard; just write your company’s blog. And do it very, very badly. Here’s an example from Yahoo! Yodel Anecdotal, the Internet giant’s corporate blog.

You could start with including some out-of-date (or merely coincidental) information:

Funny, but those same issues were reported verbatim in the blog two weeks prior to this post. You can see it here on Terribly Write.

Then just ignore the niceties of the capital letter, and use it willy-nilly to capitalize totally random words. And don’t forget to forget a quotation mark!

No need to hyphenate the compound adjective decade-long. Who the f*ck is Lord Voldermat? I guess that’s how you spell Lord Voldemort when you search for the character’s name using Yahoo! Search. That’s quite a testimonial to your employer’s products! 

You might decide to capitalize nominees, then decide to throw in a little white lie. The nominations were announced the day before this little blog post showed up. And the category is Outstanding Reality-Competition Program, but why quibble about a little punctuation ?

What was going through the writer’s teensy brain when he or she decided to put quotation marks around some titles and not others? Are those “air quotes”? Like the TV programs weren’t really Glee, The Big Bang Theory, and Parks and Recreation.

Don’t bother using a spell-checker. Just ignore those pesky typos!

Hey, just because you can’t write, or don’t care about writing correctly and accurately, don’t worry about losing your job. Your employer doesn’t care about those things either. I think that’s called job security.

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