Tag Archives: grammar

Mind-blowing pins

Pinterest users seem to be having trouble describing things.  Pinterest requires some sort of comment to be made about a pin, so it’s no wonder that users feel a bit overwhelmed having to write something for every new pin that’s created.  A very popular way of filling in that comment box is simply writing “mind blown.”  This phrase is overused and misused constantly on Pinterest.  I’m here to rectify that. Along the way, I’ll be teaching a few new and exciting vocabulary words to further help Pinterest users properly describe their pins.

Let us start with what “mind blown” actually means so we can later explore what it doesn’t mean.  There is no formal dictionary listing for “mind blown.” However, Thesaurus.com has some synonyms for the term “mind-blowing”. Those synonyms are:

astonishing, eye-opening, hallucinatory, mind-altering, mind-boggling, overwhelming,psychedelic, staggering, stunning, wonderful

I estimate that 85% of what is posted on Pinterest and other social media platforms alongside the phrase “mind blown” or “mind=blown” or something of the sort is not interesting, much less boggling, overwhelming, astonishing, or wonderful.  I have taken a few screen shots to illustrate my point (the vocabulary words for the day are in bold to make learning easy and fun!):

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The only way that this would be mind-blowing is if it was done on purpose. Otherwise, it’s just a coincidence.

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This seems a popular sort of blowing of the mind.  I’m going to give the posters the benefit of the doubt and assume they are unaware that animators often watch the facial expressions and gestures of voice actors in order to make animations more true-to-life.  That’s why many cartoon characters end up with elements of their voice actors’ expressions and gestures.  This is interesting, but it’s not astonishing or shocking.

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No. Just no. Yo-Yo Ma was probably just being funny.  If the poster of Yo-Yo Ma came alive at the sight of his Overlord and Clone Original, then that would be mind-blowing.  His being humorous is just…humorous.

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This is not mind-blowing for the following reason: someone just made something up and applied it to an element of a fictional character.  The people in charge of costume and make up for this actor were likely not thinking, “Let’s cross Voldemort with a squid.”  Even if they were, it still has no astounding implications.  This is just stupid.

This concludes today’s lesson. The words we have learned today are: coincidence, interesting, humorous, and stupid. What other words can you think of that describe the above screenshots?


Dear People Who Write/Say “Whip Cream”

Dear People Who Write/Say “Whip Cream,”

It may come as a shock to hear that you are wrong.  The term, friends, is “whipped cream.”  This substance is named in such a way as to describe its very essence.  You see, “whipped cream” is heavy cream that has had air beaten or whipped into it.  It is cream that has been whipped, hence the name.  “Whip cream” is a mondegreen at best and a horrendous abuse of the English language at worst.

Please refrain from using the term “whip cream” any more.  It doesn’t make any sense.

Sincerely,

Chelsea


Dear Former Fellow Intern

Dear Former Fellow Intern,

I am really sorry about the horribly violent scenarios that played out in my head five years ago while you were graciously driving me to church.  I was tempted to hurt you in a multitude of ways, and all because you said “Valentimes” about fifteen times in a ten minute period.  I recognize the folly in my thoughts, and I apologize for using my imagination to punish you for improper grammar.

But, seriously, dude, it’s Valentine’s Day.  Also, it’s supposedly, not supposebly.

Sincerely,

Chelsea


Dear #OccupyDallas

Dear #OccupyDallas

To adapt a worn-out Internet meme: Protesting: you’re doing it wrong.

I absolutely agree that the outsourcing of jobs and various other practices commonly performed by corporate America are unfortunate and have certainly contributed to our hardships as a country. However, I am concerned with your lack of proposed direction.

A protest generally works in this way: A hates the way B does something, so A lets B know that he isn’t going to take it any more. A tells B that he should change in ways which will make A happy.  B may or may not comply.

For instance, people protesting the current war might do something like this:

A protest village in London, June 2010

You’ll notice that their signs plainly state what makes them unhappy and what changes would make them happy.  This is where you have failed miserably.

There are hardships.  The American economy has been poor for years. Companies are sending jobs overseas because they can’t seem to see beyond their shareholders.  This is all very true, and it might even be something to get worked up about.  However, declaring yourself the 99% and marching with no demands helps no one, including your own cause.

The problem here is that no one knows what you want.  We all recognize that you hate that the 1% controls things.  We know that many of you haven’t been able to find jobs or have had to suffer without cable for two years.  We understand that corporate greed seems to run our country.  However, you have come to the table with a thousand complaints and not one solution.

How in the world do you expect to get what you want when even you don’t know what that is?

There is no way to make your current movement happy.  Every movement should have an objective of sorts and the only one yours seems to have come up with is, “The majority of us does not agree with the minority, but the minority has more money!” which is less of an objective and more of a rambling T-shirt slogan.

The fact of the matter is that you will never succeed if you continue on in this manner.  The success of a movement is determined by the reaching of certain goals.  You lack discernible goals and will therefore find it difficult to ever feel that this movement was successful.  As of right now, it just sounds like you’re a group of people whining about first-world problems while you secretly hope for government-mandated wealth redistribution (which, by the way, never works out quite the way people think it will).

Please stop protesting until you can intelligently define your terms.  After that, you may proceed in your demonstrations.  This is, after all, the land of the free, where people can speak, write, act, protest, run their businesses and make money in just about any way they please.

Sincerely,

Chelsea


Dear Fellow Students

Dear Fellow Students,

I understand your confusion.  Truly, I do.  I, too, am also plagued by the misunderstandings that accompany the misuse or nonuse of hyphens.

As your apparent puzzlement indicates, you are well aware of the purpose of the hyphen.  You know that when two words which modify one another are used to modify a third word, the initial two words should be hyphenated.  For instance, let’s take the completely arbitrary words “Tobacco”, “Free” and “Campus” to make the phrase “Tobacco Free Campus”. Without a hyphen, this phrase is much like the Wonder Twins without their rings of power: kind of confusing, a little awkward, and possibly useless.  The phrase could be taken to mean that you are currently standing on a campus that is made entirely of tobacco and to which entrance is free of charge.  You could also interpret the phrase to mean that tobacco products are hurled at students on this campus with no expectation of compensation (albeit, that requires a slight stretch of the imagination).

However, insert the ring of power (the hyphen, in this case) into the equation, and, as surely as those Twins of Wonder will transform into a puddle of water and a walrus, the vague phrase is changed to one that makes perfect sense: a “Tobacco-Free Campus” is clearly a campus on which tobacco products are prohibited.

Now, the school which we attend does not appear to understand how confounding some phrases can be without hyphens.  They have placed signs throughout the buildings which could be interpreted in any of the ways listed above.  Yes, they should have had the signs checked by a copy editor.  Yes, you are evidently baffled by their meaning.  Never fear.  I am here to clear things up once and for all.

I feel confident in saying that, despite the lack of hyphens, the signs posted on every entrance and exit door on campus do have one correct interpretation, which is as follows:

Stop filling the balconies where I study with your disgusting cigarette smoke.

Glad I could help you out in your quest for truth.

Sincerely,

Chelsea


Dear Users of Nouns, Pronouns and Verbs

Dear Users of Nouns, Pronouns and Verbs,

I would like to make the bold request that you be more precise when speaking/singing/writing.  Using ambiguous nouns and verbs makes it difficult for the reader to decipher what you intend to communicate.  Ambiguity can also result in entrapment or even death, as this letter will no doubt prove.

My first example is something that happened to me today.  I was exploring my school campus, looking for a place to read alone, when I found a really great balcony.  The door leading to the balcony had several signs on it, and I read each one.  Scrawled in some messy penmanship on one of the signs was the statement:

Door will lock after closing.

I thought about this for a moment.  Did the author intend to communicate that the door would lock after the building closed or after the door closed? I went with the former, assuming that, had the writer meant the latter, they would have written something like, “Door will lock when it closes,” or “This door locks from the outside,” or even “Prop the door open by any means if you don’t want to be stuck on a balcony for the rest of your life.”

I soon discovered my mistake and was forced to call a school admin to let me back in the building.  This incident could have been avoided if the wording on the sign had been more specific.

The next example is a very serious one indeed.  You may be familiar with the band The Postal Service.  The opening line of their song “Clark Gable” is:

I was waiting for a cross-town train in the London Underground
When it struck me

What struck you, Postal Service Lead Singer Guy? To what does this “it” refer? Because, to be honest, every time I hear this song, I imagine you standing on the rails, waiting and thinking deep thoughts.  And then I imagine an underground train rushing out of nowhere, hitting, and killing you. (As a side note, I do realize that that intention of the writer is clarified one line later.  However, as a result of the construction of the song, I still feel that the pronoun used here is ambiguous.)

These examples clearly illustrate just how important it is to use clear language.  If you don’t, you may end up in serious danger…or, at least, the subjects of whatever you’re writing, may end up in serious danger.  Either way, it’s something to pay close attention to.

I hope that this letter persuades you to be more careful and specific in your word usage.

Sincerely,

Chelsea


Dear Americas Best Value Inn (sic)

Dear Americas Best Value Inn (sic),

When I first passed you on a local highway, I thought very little of you. I assumed you were a lowly, stand-alone motel whose owners may or may not have the best grasp on grammar and punctuation. However, since first seeing you, I have stumbled upon no less than four of your establishments in four different cities in the DFW Metroplex. My original assumption about you was wrong; you are, in fact, a motel chain. This means that you are a company that employs more people than just Ma, Pa and Junior. Some of those people probably speak the native language of the country placed in your company’s name (which, coincidentally is the country in which you operate and conduct business).

Considering all of the above, I have one simple question for you: Do you enjoy the murder and mutilation of the English language?

Your name is pretty simple: Americas Best Value Inn. These four words don’t leave a lot of room for grammatical error, but somehow you’ve managed to throw one in the mix that I cannot overlook.

The word “Americas” should contain an apostrophe. There, I wrote it. Under no perceivable circumstances should your title not have an apostrophe in it. If the value of this inn is, in fact, America’s best, then it should read “America’s Best Value Inn.”

I don’t understand how such a flagrant and insulting error was made. Did you save money by not including the apostrophe in order to pass the savings on to your customers? Are apostrophes the Coach purses of the punctuation world? How much do they cost, anyway?

If that’s not the case, then I assume this error is simply that: an error. If this is true, I’m embarrassed for you. Any chain that doesn’t employ one person who would have noticed this mistake and fixed it is not a chain I would want to associate with.

I hope to hear from you concerning this issue. I also hope that you fix the error soon. Really, either way, it’s just embarrassing.

Sincerely,
Chelsea