I Tip For Great Grammar

Once a month, I bop into a fabulous little joint called Massage Envy.

It’s an awesome place where a girl (or guy) can go to get a relaxing massage for a reasonable price! Anyway, the one in my area just so happens to be located about 4 minutes from my house. So. Convenient. How could I say no to a one year commitment? I couldn’t. So I joined up.

So far I’ve had massages from Joel and Dean, each of whom has been amazing in his own way. Joel has “Power Hands.” He can get deep in those nooks and crannies. And when my L5-S1 injury was a-flarin’, Dean put scalding hot towels on my back and had me do this weird exercise that took my breath away. Literally. I could not breathe while he stretched my arm one way and my leg the other and pressed down on my hip. Owwwww! But then – miraculously the “owwww” turned into “ahhhhhh.” I’m telling you, no more pain. Those guys know what they are doing over there.

The last time I went, I noticed this sign.

Oh no.

I couldn’t help myself.

And it’s true, the therapists are awesome, and they do deserve great tips.

But do you see the error?

Sign #1

Bonus points awarded to the first person who can explain the grammatical problem expressed on the sign.

So I told them about the error, and they said they understood.

They even said they would have a new sign by the time I came in for my next appointment.

And they did.

Sign #2

And while I didn’t mean to laugh, I couldn’t help it because – of course – they had gone and made things worse.

Double bonus points awarded to the person who explains what’s going on in this sign.

(Note, this person should be different from the person who addresses the first issue. Let’s have some fun with this.)

Finally, someone just asked me to write down what the sign should say.

They implored: How should it read, so it reads properly?

Really?

Per usual, it’s hard for me to believe that I was the only person to see the glaring error? (And if one wanted to be really picky, it could be argued there are a few.)

Apparently, the sign had been there for about a month.

So why didn’t anyone say anything?

Triple bonus points awarded to the person who best answers that question.  And “people don’t give a flying &*$%#” is not a valid answer.

My next appointment is at the end of March.

Hopefully, the third time is the charm.

Can someone come up with something smart & silly about massages and grammar? Seems to me they go hand-in-hand. Ba-da-bump!

37 responses to “I Tip For Great Grammar

  1. I recognize the error in both. Since you don’t want the same person to point out both, I will just say that the error in the 1st is so common, most people just don’t catch it. It stems from not wanting to be “politically incorrect” by assuming the wrong gender. Is there a good gender-neutral singular pronoun?

    • Well, so has “they” become the new socially acceptable gender neutral term instead of saying him or her? Until I see it in the MLA, it is not acceptable.

      Sooooooo…

      This was the point where I pointed out that they had a singular subject (therapists) with a plural pronoun antecedent (they). I suggested that they either make the whole sentence singular or the the whole sentence plural. I said they could do this:

      Let your therapist know he/she is awesome!

      or do the plural version, which sounds much less weird. They said, “Got it!”

      • I have to admit I didn’t see the problem in the first one, until I read the ‘corrected’ one. Then I got it.

  2. A teaching moment!

    Of course others noticed. I’ll bet they didn’t speak up for fear they would be scorned, or worse, wrong themselves.

  3. Have you read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves? This just made me think of it.

    I think random apostrophes bother me more than no apostrophes.

    But I’m a grammar junkie. I read books on the stuff by choice. Stupid.perfectionist.tendencies.

    • Of course I have read Eats, Shoot and Leaves! It is hilarious. I would actually use it as a textbook except it is written by a British author and they intentionally retained her British spelling and grammar – some of which is quite different from American standard grammar, so I don’t think it would go over well in a Comp 101 course, but it is an amazing read. I have it and its pages are well loved.

      And I’m a grammar junkie. And I’ll bet no one else comments today.😉

  4. As you know, I will not cast the first stone, well any stone for that matter because I’m a serious “grammatical” sinner. I throw punctuations in wherever I think that they belong. I write like I speak and sometimes I’m not the goodest speaker! (All mistakes up to this point were on purpose, okay?). My problem with the sign is the whole tipping process in America is just a mean joke on us commoners. Instead of charging costs that would reflect what we should be paying the “average” worker they are charging what should be charged for horrible service. Tips should be reserved for excellence! Companies are using tips to disguise the real costs to the consumer. Okay, down from my soapbox. Have a great day everyone, piece out lol.

    • T.I.P.S. actually means “to insure proper service.”

      But Jeffrey, these guys are goooooood! They deserve great tips!😉 I do not have a problem with their tip recommendations. (It’s a pretty broad range.) But I hear what you are saying. You go to a lousy restaurant with lousy service. Should you leave a tip? Most people feel obligated. I would likely leave a note, with outstanding penmanship and perfect grammar, explaining why I could not.

  5. We gonna throw down on this, RASJ: I support the gender-neutral “they” because it’s the only cost-effective solution to making language gender-neutral. Saying ‘he/she’ doesn’t work in real, live, spoken speech, and ‘(s)he’ is not awesome in writing. Also, years of historical linguistics have taught me that fighting natural language change is a waste of resources, and apt to be perceived as snooty, thereby achieving a Pyrrhic victory. Now, I’m a little more attached the proper use of apostrophes, sentimentally, but I fear that’s a battle we’re bound to lose too…back to our Germanic roots and all.

    Here’s my non-prescriptive linguist criterion: language should express its intended meaning. So, as much as the details matter to writers, grammarians, and teachers, better to fight the major battles (such as why you cannot use Wikipedia as a source and/or trust things you find randomly on the internet) than hang up on the details — at least as the first line of defense.

    As I said, though, I bet we’re gonna have to agree to disagree😉

    • WoPro:

      Actually, I don’t disagree totally with you. My problem is that this gender-neutral language is not yet accepted as “proper English” by the MLA, and since I teach Comp 101, I suppose that means I have to keep on correcting students for this type of “error,” which we hear all the time on the news, etc.

      I think it is confusing to teachers to know exactly how spot on and anal-retentive we have to be. For if I don’t hold students accountable for that error, how do I hold them accountable for apostrophe errors or comma errors?

      I agree language should express its intended meaning, but tehn we all konw taht tihng taht prvoes as lnog as the fisrt and lsat lettres of a sentnece are corrcet, we can understnad the sentecne, rihgt?😉

      So, I guess I’m saying as an English teacher, I not only have to teach about source reliability and teach my students to resist the urge to Control-C & Control-V (copy and paste instead of using true paraphrasing and summary skills which are far more important), but I also have an obligation to teach punctuation and grammar, diction, tone, irony and plenty more nuances.

      Reading “Let your therapist know they’re awesome” makes my head hurt. If said aloud, it makes my ears bleed.

      I’m all about language as a living, changing language – but my Bible on that one is the Diana Hacker. And until those crazy folks at MLA say that it is acceptable to have a singular subject combined with a plural antecedent, I will not do, I will not do any more black shoe. (Thank you, Sylvia Plath. May you rest in peace.)

      Yeah. Agree to disagree. U r rite.😉

      • Ah, what does the MLA know? The students aren’t gonna have to worry about that unless they go into academia and then it will get beaten into their heads anyway. As one of my linguistics profs said: “Rebel! Rebel against prescriptivism!”

        And as I noted in one of my recent posts, a user-experience designer recently suggested it was futile to try to get people to change more than three specific behaviors at once — so what does this say about how we teach writing? Not that all twenty(ish?) elements aren’t necessary for writing/thinking to be truly good, just that we might have to pick and choose which ones to focus on, or at least establish an order of operations on some sort of triage level.

      • Seriously, WoPro:

        In addition to teaching at my community college, I also tutor students for the SAT’s. And that stuff is on there. I have to teach it – properly.

        So while I soooooo want to “pick and choose,” I have to mindful of what can show up on the test. Subject-antecedent agreement is on the SAT test along with a lot of other stuff.

        It would be unfair of me to not teach it to my students properly. So I tell them everything that you and Clay are saying – that there is the way we speak (which is casual and ever-changing) and the way we write to impress (which is all about conventions). And they need to understand the SAT’s is all about impressing people, so they need to know both types of language. You know, to get in the boat.

        Once in the boat, they can rock all they want.

        I know I do.😉

  6. Microsoft Word 2003 found 0 grammatical errors with either sentence. Shenanigans!

    • Egads! Microsoft Word 2008 found no errors either. We are doomed. I guess we could even be ‘domed’.

      Big whoop, right?

      Clearly, I need Xanax.

      • I always tell my students to beware of spell check for this reason. And I tell them that, despite my general disdain for Microsoft’, I have good reason for the warning: spell checkers are written by computer scientists, not English majors, professional proofreaders, or editors. That is, people who love computer code, not English as a language, write spell checker programs. And I just can’t bring myself to follow their dicta with blind faith.

        This is not to say that comp sci people necessarily have bad grammar, or don’t care about their language, but really, they haven’t been trained (brainwashed?) as we have.

  7. So, did they ever remove the apostrophe?

    Everyone in Syracuse has been domed during football and basketball seasons. Maybe it won’t be that bad.😉

  8. 2nd sign:

    ‘s wrong
    no to cap session
    $ for 20 missing
    they’re is for multiple people

    • Carl, so many exciting things to report.

      First, you are right on all counts.

      Second, it is fitting that my very first WordPress friend should also be my 3,000th comment! I would like to send you something. Do you have Eats, Shoots and Leaves? I’d love to send you a copy. Either that or Gatsby. Which would you prefer? Let me know, and I’ll send you a private message to get your info.

      You have stood by me since thing bloggie started last May. Thank you, Carl.😉

  9. 1. “Let your therapist know he’s awesome.”
    2. “Let your therapists know they’re awesome.”

    People don’t know the difference between apostrophe “s” and plural noun “s”.

    SIGH.

    • Kathy:

      What if your therapist was a she? I like #2, and this is exactly what I told the folks at Massage Envy to do per their sign. Until the gender non-specific language is considered “proper” by MLA, I just cannot go by the new-fangled “they” — but I’ll bet we are headed that way.

      And I see waaaaay too many random apostrophe “s” vs. plural noun “s” errors out there. They make me cringe. Nails on the chalkboard. And then I take a picture and think – Ha! Easy blog!😉

  10. You are a brave person. Of all the places I wouldn’t want to tell people they’re sign is wrong, the place where I get relaxing massages that eliminate pain would be at the top! That said, you are a crusader and not afraid to mix it up which fits well in my description of you for today’s guest post over at my site.

    And I’m with WoPro I think. I use gender specific pronouns when I’m submitting to publication like last week’s article for the PG (I went with she by the way and it’s so arbitrary). But in my casual writing I do what I always do. Write like I talk. That means “they” it is.

    • Yeah, this better not screw up my massages. But I haven’t said anything negative about my dudes. They rock. All praise Joel and Dean.

      And the folks in the front have been receptive to my shenanigans.

      I’m sure they think I’m crazy, but they want their grammar to be proper. Lord love them.😉

  11. blackwatertown

    I wonder if they has become accepted as a gender neutral singular in certain cases. It’s certainly used a lot in broadcast speech, because “he or she”-ing can become quite unwieldy.
    When we have disuccsions/disagreeements at home, my wife talks about evolving language and grammar – to show that she’s right. (Though we’re both under siege from the firstborn – who is annoyingly good at finding valid alternative usages.)

    • I do hear it a lot on commercials/media, and I think it is confusing for students to hear something one way repeatedly and then have to “unlearn it.”

      Singular subject and plural antecedent definitely has not been accepted as correct usage at the college level. Yet.

      But I’ll bet that day is fast approaching.

  12. blackwatertown

    Oh – meant to say – the massage treatment sounds great.

  13. LOL, that sounds like experiences I’ve had, when you have to correct people over and over, and then you just feel bad ’cause you never meant to go all grammar-nazi on them, or make them feel grammatically inferior in the first place… Snowball effect.:\

    Anyway, I saw both errors immediately, although I’m not a native English-speaker (or even bilingual). Unless I should have said: “BECAUSE I am not a native English-speaker”…😛 Ironically, it often seems an advantage when it comes to grammar or spelling. I’ve learnt English through its grammar, and I’ve always read in English a lot more than spoken it. As a result, most mistakes made by natives wouldn’t even cross my mind.

    • Asia:

      Truly, I have been impressed with non-native speakers of English and their command of the language. Often, they have a much better grasp of the grammar rules than native speakers do.

      It is amazing what can be learned.

      What is your native language (if you don’t mind my asking)? I am always impressed by folks who are multi-lingual.

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