My favorite sign in the Trib newsroom reads, “Every time you make a typo, the errorists win.”
Sorry for not being politically correct, but the errorists have taken over Baylor.
A recent study conducted by Grammarly found that Baylor football fans are stumbling and fumbling their way through the English language. The rallying cry on campus may be “Sic ‘em, Bears!” but the realistic cry is “Spelling’s Incorrect, Bears!” (Only editors will get that joke.)
Grammarly examined reader comments on the SB Nation blogs of each of the 25 teams in the Associated Press preseason poll, tracking mistakes in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Baylor finished a disappointing 23rd in the results, with 5.47 errors per 100 words written.
Apparently that “Good Ol’ Baylor Line” needs some Liquid Paper.
This news pains me to no end. At my core, I’m a word nerd, a grammar geek. I’m the guy going behind my fantasy football buddies, openly correcting their spelling in message board smack talk offerings. This makes me the most popular owner in the league, by far. (Sarcasm: It’s a language, too.)
I’m also terrified that I’ll overuse the new “dislike” button coming to Facebook. Instead of silently thumbing my nose at all the mangled language from my Facebook friends, I’ll feel compelled to critique those miscues with a noisy — and nosy — south-leaning thumb.
Now, clearly the Grammarly study fails to present an accurate representation of all Baylor fans. Commenters on the SB Nation blogs? Kind of a small sample size. Who knew they could even read?
I kid, I kid. Of course they can read. Probably at a third-grade level, at least.
I suspect that the Baylor backers who read the Tribune-Herald, or its online incarnation at WacoTrib.com, have a slightly firmer grasp of the language arts than those SB Nation commenters. Call it an educated guess.
Nevertheless, I’m here to help. Allow me, your friendly, neighborhood newspaper columnist, to offer a few tips to the writing-impaired in the audience. Invariably, these lessons relate to the most common — and most cringe-worthy — mistakes one might find in either the fan site message board, blog feedback or, yes, the comment section of a WacoTrib.com article.
Could I be any more condescending about this? Well, I could try.
(In my defense, it’s difficult to write about grammar without coming off as a pompous windbag.)
Lesson 1: A king reigns. A horse wears reins. Therefore, the new starting quarterback is “taking over the reins” from the last guy. You can lead a cliché to water, but you can’t make it think.
Lesson 2: Baylor fans, how many total yards have the Bears collected in the season’s first two games? A surplus? An abundance? A plethora? All acceptable answers. So is “a lot” as long as you always — ALWAYS — remember that you’re using two words.
Unless, of course, you’re allotting money to purchase a tank of piranhas to gnaw off the typing fingers of a lot of morons. Which I am.
Lesson 3: Just as there is no “I” in team, the same applies to a team of Jaguars, even though scores of speakers want to add one. Whether you’re referring to Jacksonville’s NFL team or the Southern University football squad, the word is JAG-WAHRS, never, ever JAG-WIRES. And, yes, I understand that this lesson was one of pronunciation and not grammar, but it’s a bugaboo of mine. The word is bungled more than a Blake Bortles pass play.
Besides, those snooty Brits don’t have it right, either. They say JAG-YOU-ARES.
Lesson 4: If you ever write the sentence, “I sure hope the Bears don’t loose this weekend,” you’d better be referring to the student-athletes’ grip on their Saturday-Sunday agendas. Otherwise the real losers are you and, unfortunately, your readers.
Lesson 5 (the advanced lesson): A dangling modifier is not what you would call the strength coach’s facial hair. A possessive pronoun does not describe a greedy noun who has decided to forgo his amateur status and make a run for the money. And a split infinitive is not a synonym for the Art Briles spread offense.
Briles would likely approve of Baylor fans attempting to improve their linguistic aptitude. He is an old English teacher, after all.
Certainly Baylor boosters don’t want to be outclassed by their dear, sweet friends at TCU. Those Froggie fanatics fared quite well in Grammarly’s study, finishing second among Top 25 schools to Auburn.
Perhaps Grammar Hour should replace Dr Pepper Hour on the BU campus. The powers that be already brought in Pepsi, might as well add prepositions too, right?
Or maybe it’s much ado about nothing. Everyone makes mistakes, as that message-board maven Billy “the Bard” Shakespeare recognized.
To thine own spellcheck be true.
Grammarly’s power rankings
1. Auburn — 18th in AP poll
2. TCU — 3rd
3. Oregon — 12th
4. Ole Miss — 15th
5. LSU — 13th
23. Baylor — 5th