Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Go, Packer(s), Go!

OK, Packers fans, listen up! This blog post is for you.

It's also for Niners fans, Lions fans, Ravens fans...Lakers fans, Spurs fans...and on and on.

This post is for airing English language pet peeves (but just a few, because if I aired them all, I'd never finish this post by midnight), and first on the list tonight is the "s" on the end of many sports teams.

If you're a fan of the Green Bay Packers, you're a Packers fan. Not...a Packer fan. It might sound a little clumsy, but the "s" is correct.

I run into this often when designing ads at the newspaper I work for. When bars have drink specials listed in their ads, I word them as "Packers Specials," or "Packers Drink Specials"...always writing Packers as plural.

Sometimes they'll call to correct the ad. "Take that 's' off of Packers," they'll say, sometimes with a tone of superiority as if they've caught a serious error.

I've stopped trying to explain to most advertisers that the "s" belongs there, and instead repeat to myself the old business maxim that the customer is always right. Even when they're very...very...wrong. (Hey, I'm not the one paying for the ad!)

Many of you reading this are not Packer're Packers fans.

My buddy isn't a Charger fan, he's a Chargers fan.

I'm not a Lion fan...I'm a glutton for punishment.

Got it?

— • — • —

Sticking with the bar theme, a supper club ran an ad several months ago, advertising a specific drink that, if you don't live in Wisconsin, you may not have heard of.

The bar owner advertised Old-Fashioneds (which are delicious, by the way; I recommend it with Southern Comfort and sour). When the ad appeared in our paper, a few bar patrons pointed out the error we'd made in the ad, which caused the owner to call and alert us to our mistake.

Several customers laughed at my spelling, certain that the drink is an Old Fashion.

It is not.

I prefer to hyphenate my Old-Fashioneds, but I've seen it just as often without the hyphen. Unfortunately, I've also seen it advertised dozens of times in other newspapers as an Old Fashion. (what is that, like bell bottom jeans?!?)

Regardless, you'll never catch me sipping an Old Fashion, watching the Packer game.

Got it?

— • — • —

Another nit to pick in this post is the difference between back yard (n.), and backyard (adj.).

Associated Press style defines the terms as above...the noun is two words, the adjective is one word. (unless my Stylebook is out of date and they've updated this entry.)

"My back yard will soon be filled with billions of snowflakes, and I plan to hibernate through the winter. Before summer bids its final farewell, however, we should have one last backyard barbecue."

These examples are correct to me, although in Mitch Albom's latest column, he uses "backyards" as a noun. I've heard from more than one source that you should consistently use "backyard" in all instances. I haven't yet adopted that thought, but am open to persuasion.

— • — • —

One more tiny peeve down here, and I'll start making a new list for the next English language entry I write.

When referring to someone with a title, I capitalize every word only if the full title is used:
"We've got to address our budget issues," said Stony Brook High School Principal James Bruckmeier.

But I don't agree with the example: "The board voted to send school Principal Thomas Stenson to the weekend seminar." I prefer, "school principal Thomas Stenson."

The capital P in principal looks out of place in that instance, but I have found in the AP Stylebook an example that reads, " Chancellor Thomas Stenson," and others have disagreed with me as well. But I've also found an ally or two.

— • — • —

This is the kind of stuff I ponder for fun. I'm a total grammar geek, word nerd, punctuation dork. Sometimes I find a reliable source to back me up...other times I argue my case solely because it feels right to me. But I'm not perfect by any means.

Maybe I'll write my own book, and then I'll be correct 100 percent of the time.

Gregg's Stylebook, by Gregg (who has so much style...especially when sipping an Old-Fashioned.)

"I never made a mistake in grammar but one
in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it."
—Carl Sandburg

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