Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grammar Police on Patrol

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grammar Police on Patrol

Article excerpt


Anna Large has a knack for finding mistakes in the newspaper. She makes no special effort, though.

"They just leap out," said Large, the reference librarian at Jacksonville University's Carl S. Swisher Library. Prior to 6:30 each morning, she reads the paper with coffee. I hear from her before 9 a.m. rather frequently.

"Sometimes these things will make your eyes stop, and you think, 'What is this?' "

Her eyes stopped Thursday in the third paragraph of story about a Fernandina Beach man being honored for rescuing a man and his 7-year-old son from a rip current. The story said John Lloyd "ran into the ocean to try and rescue" them.

"Try and" is colloquial spoken English, but not appropriate in writing, Large reminded. "Try to rescue" is the correct form, she said.

A front-page story last month about an insurance scam quoted a prosecutor as saying, "We will continue to seek renumeration for these. ..." The intended word was remuneration. "The error could have been the speaker's; it just wasn't the right word," Large wrote.

When a columnist described a "family tree ripe with shrimpers and lighthouse keepers," Large suggested the correct term would have been "rife with," meaning full of. "I suspect this is a case of something sounding familiar."

Large's e-mails reflect the demeanor of a librarian of 30 years: patient, informed, sometimes amused. Occasionally, there's a gentle scolding.

"That's just careless," she wrote when we misspelled Senegalese last month in a local story referring to a princess.

When Jekyll was misspelled in a headline about a bluegrass festival on Jekyll Island, Large wrote: "I should think that people would know how to spell (or where to check!) place names in the region!"

In one day's paper a few months ago, she found three incorrect word uses. An attorney was quoted as saying his client would be vindicated "in the proper form." We meant forum. A photo caption described someone getting "a sneak peak" at an exhibit. We meant peek. And a headline touted, "Wine parings made easy." The correct word would have been pairing. …

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