Friday, November 9, 2007

Making friends... well, probably not.

I may be about the make my first enemy on the internet.

Today's second post is dedicated to Slick, who has deleted TWO posts this morning for reasons known only to himself.

The first one was about PMS and housework. The second one was about, God help me, English grammar.

He deleted the PMS post about half an hour after it went up. The grammar post disappeared fifteen minutes later.

If you did not see the original post, I cannot reproduce it because that would be wrong.

What I can do is reproduce the comment I posted in response, because I am dying to do anything besides grade the 200 papers on my desk and because also I just want to see if Slick gets mad at me.

The sentence in question:

"The woman displayed some nice cleavage but was still an anomaly of sorts, despite using her misguided cameltoe."

Nina, Bitchiest English Teacher on Earth's response:


I have three degrees in English. Let me help.

"The woman displayed some nice* cleavage"

This is acceptable, so far. The word "nice" is misused since technically it means “neat” as in “tidy” instead of "pleasing to me" - which is how you use the word here. However, since the word "nice" is so routinely misused, you get a pass for that.

"but was still an anomaly of sorts"

Here, your sentence goes into the metaphorical weeds. She was still anomaly would mean that she was, despite the cleavage, unusual. That would imply that all (or nearly all women) customarily display cleavage. We know this is not true. However, this could be a context issue – so we’ll let it pass.

Another issue: "of sorts" is filler at best. What is it adding to the sentence, meaning- wise? And isn't saying "of sorts" a subtle way of backing off the stated proposition? Saying she is "sort of" (but perhaps not really) an anomaly? "Of sorts" is filler at best - and cowardly at worst.

"despite using her misguided cameltoe."

Here, we have a modifier without clear reference. Is the woman "using her misguided cameltoe"? Is that what you meant? Because the closest referent is "anomaly" and the second closest is "cleavage" - and neither of these have the agency to "use a misguided cameltoe." In the world of Bitchy English Teachers, we refer to errors of this kind as "faulty syntax."

The second problem with this phrase is that once you get over the problem of who or what is doing the "using" - you have to wonder what is misguided - the woman, the cleavage, the anomaly, or the cameltoe itself.

Let's just assume that the cameltoe is misguided. If it is, then the news is disturbing on a number of levels. First, the suggestion that a cameltoe can have agency is terrifying. (Note: Jessics Simpson's recent wardrobe malfunctions may prove that this disturbing suggestion may be, in fact, plausible. But I digress). If the cameltoe does NOT have agency and intentions, then we have to consider the possibility that "misguided" refers to the, forgive me, geometric characteristics of the cameltoe.

This notion is too disturbing, even for me, to contemplate.

So thanks for the manly display of intellect – you should have left the post up about the PMS and the housework – but this is Bitchy English Teacher bait of the grossest kind and I could not help myself. It is CD 23, which means I am suffering a dip in progesterone and a moderate spike in core body temperature, which is bad news for anyone who wants to talk to me about anything what-so-ever.

I love you. Have a “nice” weekend.

Nina, Bitchy English Teacher


Slick said...


Oh geeez, I wasn't sure anyone even seen them!

You have completely broken down my (or what I thought) perfect use of grammar and turned it into some display of idiocy.

I bow my head in shame.....

I laughed most of the way through this because, am I supposed to compete with you??!

Thanks for the laugh today!! Seriously :)

And by the way, educated women are never my least I'm too smart for that! ;)

Nina said...

Slick, I am sorry - I just I couldn't help myself. Keep in mind that hacking sentences apart is my job. I couldn't walk into your place of business and do your job effectively on the first day, right? :-)
Thank you for taking it well.