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Here's Mistakes

Rosie Right

Reader Celia McGuckian has called to discuss her pet peeve: the use of a plural noun after the contraction here's or there's. You see or hear it in such phrases as "There's lots of troubles that have come from Pandora's Box, "or "Here's apples and oranges."

This sounds horrible to Rosie, too, but there are a few complications. First, Webster's Dictionary of English Usage tells us to be sure that what looks like a plural noun is not, in the mind of the user, a collective. For example: Harry Truman was quoted as saying, "There was 40 acres in bluegrass." Here, the usage editors tell us that Truman was probably thinking of those 40 acres as a collective. And, to buttress that explanation, later in the passage he refers to those acres as it.

And then there is Shakespeare, that inventive nongrammarian. He wrote in "Love's Labour's Lost": "Honey and milk and sugar: there is three."

Complications aside, Rosie agrees with her reader and hopes Ms. McGukian doesn't find too many of her peeves in Style.

Word of the Year
According to the newsletter Copy Editor, the American Dialect Society has chosen the 2000 Word of the Year to take the place of some of the winners of previous years, words such as Y2K and e- as in e-mail.

To no one's surprise the favorite word for 2000 was chad.

In other categories of the word contest there were the following winners:

"Brand-Spanking New was unconcede.

"Least likely to succeed was kablokeys, a hard-to-pronounce word used in phrases like 'It scared the kablokeys out of me.' Other candidates were subliminable, invented inadvertently by George W. Bush, and malaprophesizing, predictions phrased in malapropisms.

"Most Creative was dot-bomb. …

"Most Euphemistic was courtesy call, an uninvited call from a telemarketer."

Some other candidates:

Starter castle, a dot-commer's first home

Sudden-loss-of-wealth syndrome won for the most unnecessary " because it more or less defines itself."

Let's all listen hard to see what new candidates for official notice appear this year.

Let Rosie hear from you by telephone (358-0825), letter (1707 Summit Ave, Suite 201, Richmond Va. 23230), fax (355-9089) or e-mail

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