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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:43 pm 
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Tom brings the case against his wife Kira. He says Kira is obsessed with proper grammar, and she comes across as a know-it-all when she corrects his speech. Kira says she prides herself on correct language usage, and that Tom should do the same. Who's right? Who's wrong? Only one man can decide.

Judge John Hodgman Episode 142: The Department of Corrections


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:32 pm 
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Glad that the Judge found in Tom's favour, as throughout the podcast he was wrongly depicted as a liar. In his opening statement, he said "if" Judge Hodgman made a mistake, that Kira would correct it, not "when" Judge Hodgman makes a mistake, Kira corrects it.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:40 pm 
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Please keep talking about Massachusetts. I love it. I am a Nantucketer myself.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:59 am 
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iamjamesward wrote:
Glad that the Judge found in Tom's favour, as throughout the podcast he was wrongly depicted as a liar. In his opening statement, he said "if" Judge Hodgman made a mistake, that Kira would correct it, not "when" Judge Hodgman makes a mistake, Kira corrects it.


I'd have to listen again. Did he use the subjunctive mood ("if JJHo mad a mistake, Kira would correct it") or the active mood ("if JJHo makes a mistake, Kira corrects it")?

Grammar!

Also, I agree with his honor's decision in the docket clearing case. Both Somerville and Arlington are suburbs, while one is a city and the other a town. But, I didn't think Arlington had a T stop. (Pedantry!) A trickier question is whether Cambridge is a suburb of Boston.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:53 am 
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The Judge and the guests missed the point entirely. This was not a question of grammar that needed a grammar expert, this was a question of MANNERS.

Keira has horrid manners.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:01 am 
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Since this is a podcast about pedantry, I will wait until after it's over to scream out the thing in the car alone that angered me while I was driving and listening to it. The Arlington T stop is in Boston and not anywhere near Arlington. I know this is confusing and counter intuitive, but that's Boston for you. The closest T stop to Arlington is Alewife which is practically in Arlington, but actually still in Cambridge (at least I hope). The Arlington station at least is fortunately right on the corner of the Public Gardens and nowhere near Arlington.

I think the real ruling of this case is that we all have our own personal pedantry missions and they are all best kept to ourselves. Some people have grammar, some people have locations of MBTA stops, we're all the worst. Jesse said "you did goodly" and I laughed.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:21 pm 
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I will often answer the phone "This is he." when asked if I am available and I don't know the person on the line. Though the purpose of this is mostly to communicate "I am not your friend."

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:17 pm 
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As the daughter of an editor, I grew up with a lot of rules, and frequent corrections when these rules were broken.

My ears perked up when the phrase "That is he" was mentioned, as I remember being particularly baffled when corrected saying "That's him"; I have since learned many tricks around these grammar rules, and would now instead say something like, "There he is".

I couldn't help but think of Stephen Fry's bit on pedantry while listening to this, and wondered if Hodgman was subtly referencing it: http://youtu.be/J7E-aoXLZGY

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:09 pm 
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There might be something other than pedantry going on here.

We use all sorts of cues -- verbal, visual, behavioral -- to recognize and reinforce relationships. The closer the relationships, the more we expect similarity in speech, appearance, and behavior. Given that, and the importance we place on our membership in nations, races, classes, clans, families, intimate relationships, we expect, among other things, that the people we are close to will use language in much the same way we do. So for someone to whom standard language usage is important to correct the usage of one to whom he or she feels close may be simply a sign of the importance of the relationship.

That doesn't make it polite (necessarily), but it certainly puts such behavior in a more positive light than does dismissing it as pedantry. And it accounts for a wife's openly correcting her husband's speech, or a mother's correcting her child's, when she is more reticent about correcting the speech of people with whom she has more distant relationships or none at all.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:54 am 
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It's nice to think of it as a mother-child thing, Bradley, but I think the truth is that it is much moreso a matter of race and class. "Refined" or "correct" or "quality" speech is defined by those in power.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 8:42 pm 
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I enjoyed this episode. It reminded me of the show "A Way with Words" on NPR. Anyone interested in language and/or grammar should check it out.

http://www.waywordradio.org/


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:55 pm 
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gmmedinam wrote:
The Judge and the guests missed the point entirely. This was not a question of grammar that needed a grammar expert, this was a question of MANNERS.

Keira has horrid manners.


I agree, but I would use the word horrid because she does have his best interest at heart. That said, as a grammar teacher of both ESL and native speakers there is a time and place for everything. I think that Tom should be able to speak freely and not be corrected. Working among prescriptivist curriculum writers, my colleagues and I relish speaking "normally" once we are away from the classroom. In fact we will hypercorrect each other as a joke. I also stopped self-correcting and properly punctuating every single text and brief email I send because, as Cody posted, it places some distance between me and my friends.

On a side note…
When speaking about grammar there is form, function, and usage. Therefore in the phrase …and get our points across across is not functioning as a preposition. Get [something] across is a phrasal verb and therefore, even within the antiquated rule mentioned on the podcast, it is fine.

Quite sadly no one caught Tom’s misuse of the subjective. Poor subjunctive, no one cares anymore.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:07 am 
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This episode reminds me of my personal rule. There are two reasons to correct someone: to prevent embarrassment and to prevent harm.

(Naturally, if you're a parent parenting, an editor editing, a teacher teaching, etc., then you may certainly correct someone who is your child, writer, student, etc., when appropriate and in an appropriate way.)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:27 pm 
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The expert grammarian witness was quite informative, and had a much more laid-back attitude to grammar than I would have expected. Can you have her on future shows?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:52 am 
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Check out Jordan in this week's JJGO saying that men and women "should smell differently." Made me think of this episode.


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