a few language tidbits

I got an email with the following subject line:

Michael, Stop Fracking Now

I thought that was interesting. First, I prefer to go by Mike. Second, I am not doing any fracking. As far as I know, there are no oil or gas deposits in my back yard.

Of course, what they meant was for me to send them a contribution so they can lobby congress to put an end to fracking. I think, though, that there must be a better way to phrase that subject line.


I saw the following ad on a Web page a while back:

Simple Steps to Dating Beautiful Women Most Guys Ignore

Is it saying they will tell you how to date those beautiful women whom most guys are inexplicably  ignoring? Or is it promising to teach you the steps on dating that most guys ignore? The second, of course. But on a quick first reading I initially took it as the first.


I’ve read one Lillian Hellman book,  Pentimento. Another book of hers is entitled Scoundrel Time. I always took it as “a time for scoundrels.” But I recently read an essay in the Sunday New York Times which made clear that the phrase means, “that scoundrel, time.” How about that?

I do love the English language.

One Comment on “a few language tidbits”

  1. Tahoe Mom says:

    I want one of those tee shirts that say, Let’s eat Grandma. Let’s eat, Grandma. Commas matter.

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