Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bad grammar kills

Maybe it doesn't kill bodies, but it definitely kills minds and souls.
After ruling Libya for decades, people are wondering for how long Col. Gaddafi can stay in power.
Who ruled Libya for decades? The "kernel" or the people? From the sentence, it reads like the latter. The correct sentence options would be:
People are wondering: after ruling Libya for decades, how long Col. Gaddafi can stay in power?
Or:
After Col. Gaddafi's rule of Libya for decades, people are wondering how long he can stay in power.
Think before writing. Please. It's almost as important as showering and brushing your teeth.

In other news: retzuos painted black on both sides may be past nisht. Stay tuned.

7 comments:

Barzilai said...

With all due respect, but with a grain of irony, "may be past nisht" is grammatically dubious, unless you feel that inserted foreign words and phrases acquire new contextual meaning. Like "the hoi polloi." Or "the Hagra." Makes me shiver.

b said...

Oh- Thanks for the link to the article about retzuos. I liked his citation about blackening hides and then cutting them.

Certified Ashkenazi said...

Sorry, I am not sure I understand. What exactly is wrong with saying “may be past nisht”? To me, it’s the same as saying “may be inappropriate”. Are you against inserting foreign words/phrases into English sentences, am I misusing past nisht, or does the grammar of past nisht require a different English construction?

Barzilai said...

Past nisht, literally, translates as "doesn't fit." Colloquially, it means "doesn't conform with behavioral expectations." So to insert it into the sentence you'd say "may be nisht passik" which would mean "may be unfitting" or may be inappropriate.

e said...

The New York Times (!) wrote regarding the big storm in NYC, "Callers who would normally get an ambulance within minutes had to wait far longer; on Thursday, a neighbor of a 73-year-old man in Brooklyn said that he had died while waiting for one Monday evening."

Regarding "may be past nisht": What you wrote is not quite equivalent to "may be inappropriate." "Inappropriate" is an adjective, and "past nisht" is a verb. The way to say "inappropriate" is "nisht pasik."

Menashe said...

I think chasidim really have no right to criticize others for being meshane the minhag. That is, if there's a good reason for it.

Just sayin.

I got it! said...

Saying "may be past nisht" is like saying "might be aren't appropriate." The problem is that "be" and "past" (corresponding to "be" and "aren't") are both verbs.