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Rosie Right



Rosie got just what she deserved this week. I was brave enough to ask our readers for some of their word-usage pet peeves. Alas an e-mail arrived that skewered me in my other life as a copy editor. Somehow I let an article get into print that "used their in reference to Richmond Renaissance. … As Richmond Renaissance is an entity [the author] should have used the pronoun its.

"This happens all too frequently in publications and it has permeated into other areas, such as correspondence and conversation."

Reader Randi Taggart has called attention to the misuse of your and you're and of who and whom, both of which errors grate on her.

Essie Simms hates the misuse of further and farther. Farther refers to physical distance only. She also shudders at the misuse of less and fewer. Less, she points out, refers to a smaller quantity of something, fewer to a smaller number of individual things, and she is with Randi Taggart on the subject or you're and your

Horace McCowan writes that his pet peeve is "pronoun and antecedent disagreement."

Finally, a friend who teaches creative writing told me: "One of my pet peeves is the continuing and unembarrassed use of dangling participles in the writing of otherwise excellent writers. Example: Slipping into the back of the church, a wonderful sermon was heard. Split infinitives have driven me a little whacky, but seem to have triumphed anyway. Another peeve is the constant use of British expressions, such as flat instead of apartment. Another is the use of words that are inappropriate to the situation to which they are applied, for example: five teenagers murdered in shooting spree. 'Spree' has become associated with crime and violence, whereas its original connotations were joyous and lighthearted."

I will be collecting other beefs as readers complain about them and meanwhile will watch carefully for usages that make our readers feel that they have just heard a fingernail scraped across a blackboard.

(to be continued)

Let Rosie hear from you by mail (1707 Summit Ave., Suite 201, Richmond, VA 23230); by e-mail (rozanne.epps@styleweekly.com); or by telephone (358-0825).

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