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Grammar Police Gazette


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OATH OF OFFICE

 

 

 

 

I am a Grammar Constable.



 

I shall uphold the grammar of the Queen's English .

 

I will serve the grammatical needs of the peoples of the Commonwealth of Nations, now and forever.

 

I shall see to it that every incorrect usage is exposed and corrected.

 

I will uphold my full devotion to Bullokar, father of English Grammar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The job of the Grammar Police is to lern youse lot sumpfink before it's too late.

No, Red. You have posted a description of the duties of the Dialect Police. They occupy an office on the second floor. Your application of grammatical rules in your description is correct. The definition of dialect is: a linguistic variety peculiar to a particular geographical region or used by members of a specific social class. I suggest that the description would be described as representing the bogan class.

 

 

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"People" is not the plural form of the word "person". This is because of their separate etymologies.

 

"People" has its roots in the Latin "populus" which is the word to use for an uncounted number of individuals, such as 'a crowd of people'. "Peoples" is used to refer to an a collection of groups of individuals where there is an implications that the individuals forming the groups are not quite the same, eg. the Asia-Pacific peoples.

 

"Person" has its roots in the Latin "persona" which initially meant an actor's mask and came to mean an individual. 'Persons' can be used when referring to a handful of individuals (five persons were injured in the collision).

 

Because the Queen's English is a living, evolving thing, usage can cause original meanings to drift. It is common now for the word 'people' to be interchangeable with 'persons'. However, the opposite does not occur.

 

 

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It's always reminds me of the stilted way police talk when on the news.

Police-speak probably had its origins in the days when poorly educated constables had to give evidence in Court before highly educated barristers and judges. If "clothes maketh the man", then "vocabulary showeth the intellect". I've read the transcript of my evidence in a few trial matters. The statements I prepared as Evidence-in-Chief were very formal with great attention to the use of correct grammar. However, the record of my cross examination shows me using conversational forms because my replies were often "off the cuff". I often tried to instill in new police the need to write their statements in a way that a jury of ordinary people would understand every word they heard, and not be jolted by unusual words.

 

There are some really horrid police-speak terms offered up in the formal statements of police.

 

"At about" - Did it happen exactly at that time or roughly about that time?

 

"I proceeded" - How many people (persons) made up your procession? Did you go forth with the accompaniment of drum and fife?

 

"Two males" - Were these bearers of an X-Y chromosome pair: infants, pre-teens, teenagers, young adults, mature adults, or geriatric?

 

Two of the worst examples of the use of archaic words were:

 

"The offender defenestrated," - The offender went out through the window.

 

"The skin on the deceased's back was excoriated," - The skin was peeled off in layers.

 

Here's an amusing list of translations of police-speak: A Police-Speak to English translation guide

 

It is possible to determine how much of a witness' statement was is in their own words, and how much was written by police, cleaning up the witness' grammar and expression. Fortunately the use of video recordings of interviews with suspects has removed the chance for corrupt police to stitch up a crim with a false confession.

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE ...

 

OPERATION - TIN PAN ALLEY

 

The Commissioner for Grammar has approved Operation - 'Tin Pan Alley". Grammar Police have been tasked with exposing grammatical errors contained within the lyrics of popular songs. Intelligence gathered so far indicates that these errors are manufactured in the United States and imported to Australia concealed in physical and digital formats. The errors are then supplied to the public by radio broadcasters and pushers operating from premises in regional shopping centres. The Public is asked to support this important operation by contacting Grammar Police on 1300- ERRORS when such grammatical errors are discovered. The Public is warned not to approach the perpetrators of these errors.

 

Errors so far exposed include:

 

"If I were a rich man" - Fiddler on the Roof. Sung by Tevye. Words by Sheldon Harnick. Plural form of the verb used instead of the singular form.

 

"I ate it up and spit it out." - 'I did it my way" Sung by Frank Sinartra. Words by Paul Anka. Present tense of the verb used instead of the past tense.

 

"If I were a carpenter" - Song title the same. Written by Tim Hardin. Plural form of the verb used instead of the singular form. Female version "If you were a carpenter" sung by Joan Baez. Same error.

 

 

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"I ate it up and spit it out." - 'I did it my way" Sung by Frank Sinartra. Words by Paul Anka. Present tense of the verb used instead of the past tense.

Point of order, I believe the yanks use "spit" as both present and past tense. At least that's how I've always seen it in literature on on screen. "Spat" must only be a quarrel for them.

 

 

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The Point of Order is "not well taken". We are dealing with the Queens English, not the babble of rebellious folk.

 

The point of order calls upon the chair to make a ruling. If the chair accepts the point of order, it is said to be ruled "well taken". If not, it is said to be ruled "not well taken".

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE ...

OPERATION - TIN PAN ALLEY

 

The Commissioner for Grammar has approved Operation - 'Tin Pan Alley". Grammar Police have been tasked with exposing grammatical errors contained within the lyrics of popular songs. Intelligence gathered so far indicates that these errors are manufactured in the United States and imported to Australia concealed in physical and digital formats. The errors are then supplied to the public by radio broadcasters and pushers operating from premises in regional shopping centres. The Public is asked to support this important operation by contacting Grammar Police on 1300- ERRORS when such grammatical errors are discovered. The Public is warned not to approach the perpetrators of these errors.

 

Errors so far exposed include:

 

"If I were a rich man" - Fiddler on the Roof. Sung by Tevye. Words by Sheldon Harnick. Plural form of the verb used instead of the singular form.

 

"I ate it up and spit it out." - 'I did it my way" Sung by Frank Sinartra. Words by Paul Anka. Present tense of the verb used instead of the past tense.

 

"If I were a carpenter" - Song title the same. Written by Tim Hardin. Plural form of the verb used instead of the singular form. Female version "If you were a carpenter" sung by Joan Baez. Same error.

Are you sure that "were" is not the second person past tense of "to be"? There are many irregular forms in English and quite a few continue to be propped up by silly things like spelling competitions. Samuel Johnson, you have much to be ashamed about.

 

 

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Are you sure that "were" is not the second person past tense of "to be"? There are many irregular forms in English and quite a few continue to be propped up by silly things like spelling competitions. Samuel Johnson, you have much to be ashamed about.

You are partially correct. Both the 2nd Person singular and 2nd Person plural forms in the past tense of the verb to be are "you were". The 1st Person singular past tense form is "I was". So the use of "I were" is a grammatical inexactitude.

 

 

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