A little rant for a Sunday forenoon

It’s a bit too late to call it “morning,” so “forenoon” it shall be.

When I see a post/article/tweet/what-have-you from someone purporting to be “professional,” and it contains one of my peeves (which may admittedly be dogmatic, pedantic, petty, and so on–but these are my peeves so that’s all okay), I twitch. Now that I have somewhere to vent about those occurrences, I can share my twitching with all of you.

Or not. If you’ve stopped reading, that’s ok.

Just today I found this: “We are comprised of college grad English Majors who are extremely proficient in writing, copy editing and proof reading.”

As they say on teh intarwebz: O RLY?

The zoo comprises the animals. The animals compose the zoo. “Comprise” denotes inclusion. “Compose” denotes–well, composition. (That’s why the words are so similar, after all . . . I will refrain from a lecture on etymology, however.)

So–first of all, “We are composed of” or “We comprise” would both be correct. (Note the lack of “of” in the second form. It’s unnecessary.) The reason we have two different words is they have two different meanings. Improper usage has been the death (slow, unkind, and agonizing death) of many a perfectly good differentiation over the life of this living language we speak. I fight to keep such words on life support because I think they’re important. The differences in meaning are important. If we hadn’t felt the need for different meanings to start with, we’d not have two different words. (And actually, “we are composed of” gives me a fit in this case for an entirely different reason. That’s another rant for another time, perhaps.)

::breathes deeply and evenly::

Second, what’s with that capital “M” on “Majors”? It doesn’t lend an air of importance; it only lends an air of . . . well, incorrect capitalization, to be honest.

And finally: “Proofreaders” is a closed compound word. “”Proof readers,” I suspect, are adept at reading liquor bottle labels. (And that could well be true of this group, I suppose. Not that that’s a bad thing. Sometimes we really do need 151, instead of 80.)

I hear grumblings out there among you (all two of you, I hear you, y’know) about my use of informal styles in a grammar-oriented blog. Get over it. It’s MY BLOG, and this is MY RANT (ooooh, I must be upset, I used ALL CAPS), and while I clearly am discussing grammar and usage, I’m doing so informally because I’m not writing an academic presentation. I’m blogging. That’s like talking to you on my front porch. It’s informal. Deal with it.

Or don’t. Your choice. I write this stuff anyway.