Delusions of Grammar: The Worst of the Worst Bloopers and Blunders Ever by Sharon Eliza Nichols
My rating: 1/5 cats
why are books like this funny? or at least meant to be funny? sure, part of it is feeling superior: ‘chortle, chortle. look at the way that person has gaffed.’ but i learned the rules about apostrophe use a long time ago; so long ago that it’s as natural to me as the rule about not touching a hot stove, and the “joke” of someone misplacing an apostrophe is one of diminishing returns and not enough to sustain an entire book. admittedly, it’s a comfort and a vindication to see some of the more ‘professional’ examples. in this book, there is a verizon ad that misspells ‘verizon’ and a macy’s sign with a misplaced apostrophe. and since we have all made mistakes at work, it’s a relief to have proof that everyone makes mistakes and thankfully, most of ours are less visible. but the third reason is, for me, the most compelling. i enjoy books like this for the unexpected charm resulting from errors, particularly translation errors.
this book does not acknowledge the charm, just the error, and all possible joy is sucked out. the photos in this book were sent to the author as submissions to her facebook group “I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar,” so her only job here is curating and providing a witty caption to run below each image. and like the person who misspelled ‘verizon’, she has not done her job well. the title of my review is “I Judge You When You Use Poor Humor,” and this book suffers from two major flaws: her comments are not at all funny, and the examples chosen as targets are misplaced and redundant.
the not-funny is mostly tonal. this book, whether the example is a professionally-made sign or dashed-off bathroom graffiti, treats errors as a personal affront, and the captions are smug reactions. this isn’t even an attempt to be humorous, it’s just didactic snark:
and this – you can practically see the smirk accompanying it:
is it interesting? or are you just really pleased with yourself?
that sniffy tone carries throughout, and you may want to pass it off as a schoolmarmy persona adopted for the sake of the book, but if so, it’s not a very successful persona, because it’s an alienating tone that doesn’t win the reader over to the side of the stuffy grammarian. you can be a curmudgeon, but in order to be one the reader treats with amused indulgence, you have to be funny. most of these are the equivalent of someone at a party telling an inappropriate joke and looking around for, nay – expecting, approval while everyone is just uncomfortably fidgeting with their canapés.
huh? huh?? nudge nudge elbow amiright?
it’s just too much of the same thing over and over.
oh, if only that were so. it is far from the last time.
i think it sparks my imagination and makes a little film play in my head of an office staffed entirely by watermelons and what their dress code might be. your comment sparked no such whimsy and made me cringe in embarrassment for you.
the ego is strong with this one. many instances of the royal we:
you know perfectly well they meant “parties,” don’t be a dick.
the condescension of addressing the imagined audience as “people”
distancing herself as an island of grammatical perfection against the unwashed masses.
no one has ever found anything ‘highly amusing’. it’s such a douchey phrase.
this is particularly douchey:
yes, it’s redundant. it’s as redundant as saying ‘isbn number’, but it’s one of those linguistic “errors” accepted in casual use, like referring to a photocopier as a xerox machine, even if that is inaccurate.
she also demonstrates an inability to appreciate the humor of others:
or to play nice with like-minded individuals:
it’s just tedious. and ungrateful.
i’m always going to support a sign that warns about the horrors of birds, no matter where they shove that apostrophe.
however, she’s right about one thing:
because pride goeth before a fall and glass houses and all that:
were i a comedienne on her level, i would say something like: “‘acknowledgments’ has a ‘d’ in it, and ‘d’ is for ‘duhhhhh.'”
the second problem is the targets chosen and her inability/unwillingness to distinguish between actual ignorance of grammatical rules and simple careless typos.
it’s one thing when a major company puts out an ad with an inadvertent typo, something that has gone through editorial review. (like the “acknowledgments” section of your book, for example, which went through TWO printings unnoticed) but when you’re red-penning teen graffiti:
hastily scrawled signs:
shit mass produced in some sweatshop by children who likely do not speak the language:
the rantings of mentally unbalanced sign-toting street people:
and assorted protesters. (p.s. – hand-written signs do not come equipped with spell check. dude.)
it seems more like bullying than a public service.
i wish you could experience joy.
also, this is flat-out wrong
if we’re talking about real gang members (and not people likely to wear little airbrushed hats), their ability to spell is not really a factor in their ability to intimidate. the pen is not actually mightier than the sword (or the AK) and if you look at the lyrics of any gangsta rap song, it’s clear they’re prone to certain liberties with orthography.
but back to bullying. there are many instances where it’s clear that the mistake is made by someone whose first language is not english:
or are delightful idiosyncrasies of translation :
i will not enjoy you. because not only are you unfunny, you’re a little extreme.
she is endorsing prison time for leaving off an “e” in a word.
and advocating reproductive limits based on consumer choices:
what, NOW you are concerned with being PC? after targeting immigrants and the poor? and suggesting that people be jailed or neutered for typos? as someone who is spinally challenged, i declare this sign to be funnier than any of your jokes.
now, to lighten the mood from this dystopian totalitarian nightmare landscape, let’s focus on some of the charming examples:
i think this one is an improvement. more evocative rarrrrrrr!!
and this one – how can you not be enthusiastic about all that cheese! even if it is extra. which it is. so noted.
or giggle at the potty humor:
or just basic humorous accidents:
unlike her, i would rather solve the mysteries of what these signs could possibly mean than to criticize their spelling:
i understand it’s galling to see mistakes. i notice them all the time, and sometimes it’s maddening. in fact, i once left a restaurant because they spelled ‘blueberries’ as two words. and you know how old i was? fourteen. and insufferable.
but again, while some of the examples are people who should know better and who are meant to be setting an example:
it’s only funny when it’s funny.
life’s too short to be such a pompous twit. learn it.
also, FYI – i’m pretty sure this is the correct usage:
and i’m pretty sure this one is too, and is referring to the quiet half of the famous comedy/magician duo being available for all your banking needs. on saturdays.
because i prefer to see the world as a fun place, not a prison of your making.
i hate this book so much, i’m going to have to bring out my favorite gif as a placeholder until i can review it properly, because believe me – this is going to be a long, picture- and disgust-filled review.
this is the worst kind of smug teen-snark passing as humor, her abuse is directed at all the wrong targets, and worst of all, this is a case of “fool me twice,” because this book is just a repackaging of I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar: A Collection of Egregious Errors, Disconcerting Bloopers, and Other Linguistic Slip-Ups and More Badder Grammar!: 150 All-New Bloopers, Blunders, and Reasons Its Hilarious When People Dont Check There Spelling and Grammer, which YES, is clearly indicated on the book, but i didn’t notice that because i usually like books like these, and i was feeling grabby. HOWEVER, i’d already read I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar: A Collection of Egregious Errors, Disconcerting Bloopers, and Other Linguistic Slip-Ups and HATED it – review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show… (ironically enough, that review was written back when i was so lazy that not only didn’t i use capital letters when typing, but i eschewed apostrophes as well, which made me a complete douchebag, and for that i apologize.)
full review to come, but for now, just flames.