Posts Tagged ‘Grammar’

Grammatical Conundrums

February 18, 2009
Tailor's Goose

Tailor's Goose

A Rich Grammatical Decision

The New York Tribune decides that the plural of “titmouse” is “titmouses,” not “titmice.” “On the same principle,” says another paper, “plural of a tailor’s ‘goose’ is ‘gooses,'” as indeed we hold that it is.

This reminds us of another anecdote in regard to a country merchant who wanted two of these tailor’s irons several years ago, and ordered them from Messrs Dunn & Spencer, hardware merchants then doing business in this city. He first wrote this order “Please send me two tailor’s gooses.” Thinking that this was bad grammar, he destroyed it and wrote this one “Please send me two tailor’s geese.”

Upon reflection he destroyed this one also for fear he “would receive live” geese. He thought over the matter until, he was very much worried and at last, in a moment of desperation, he seized his pen and wrote the following which was duly mailed “Messrs. Dunn & Spencer Please send me one tailor’s goose and d_ _n it, send me another.” This was the only way he knew of to order two of them, but of course he had not read the above wise decision then —Petersburg Courier

We once knew a merchant who wanted a dozen of the same article and got over the difficulty by ordering “one tailor’s goose,” and immediately under it, “eleven ditto.”

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Feb 12, 1871

The Pedant Says, “Oh! My Prophetic Soul!”

February 16, 2009

pedant1

“Grain of Gold.”

“To-morrow is Easter Sunday.” — Gazette of last evening.

Oh! my prophetic soul! Talk about grammar! That’s worse than the JOURNAL is capable of. To-morrow will be, but is, oh! Do no pick at your neighbors any more.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Apr 1, 1877

squiggle36

Communicated.
The “Journal’s” Grammar.

Editors Gazette: — Being the unlucky compositor who originated the brevity “To-morrow is Easter Sunday, etc.,” which appeared in the local columns of the Gazette Saturday evening, and which called forth such a weight of criticism from the morning daily, I wish to back my seeming ignorance of grammatical forms by the authority of several grammarians that the expression is both proper and allowable, although perhaps not preferable. Being morally certain that in some instances similar forms may be used without serious injury to the lives or property of anyone and that the rate of insurance on my life will not be augmented thereby, I shall continue in my reckless career and use grammar of that description on or about Easter Sunday, Fourth of July, Christmas and on state occasions, merely out of spite to the critics.

Having been taught in early life the maxim which says something about not heaving bricks at your neighbor’s little blue glass shanty, especially when your own habitation is built of like material, I was surprised and pained by noticing in close proximity to the criticism before spoken of, the follow – touching example of the beauties of English (according to the style adopted by the Journal):

Mr. McCarnish has some ribs broken and otherwise injured night before last at Pyramid by falling on the sidewalk in front of Walker’s store.

Oh, my prophetic soul! “Worse than the Journal is capable of!”  The poor man has his ribs broken and otherwise injured, and then the confounded things go and spill themselves all over the sidewalk, reminding one of the poet’s little speech where he says:

“–stern disaster
Followed fast and followed faster.”

I pity Mr. McCArnish, but cannot forbear remarking that his ribs might be guilty of such conduct at Pyramid, while it would not be allowed in any incorporated town.   A.L.B.
Reno, April 2d, 1877.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Apr 2, 1877

Parsing a Kiss

February 11, 2009

1899-kiss

He Kissed Me.

According to an Ohio paper, this is how a high school girl recently parsed the sentence, “He kissed me.” “He,” she began, with a fond lingering over the word that brought crimson to her cheeks, “is a pronoun, third person, singular number, masculine gender, a gentleman and pretty well fixed; universally considered a good catch! ‘Kissed’ is a verb, transitive, too much so, regular every evening, indicative mood, indicating affection; first and third persons, plural number and governed by circumstances. ‘Me’ — Oh! well everybody knows me.” And she sat down.

Indiana Progress (Indiana, Pennsylvania) Feb 12, 1896