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posted by sammy at Monday, 5 January 2015 01:21:35 EST 1:21am

code monkey

I found your discussion of grammatical errors interesting and insightful. For the most part I agree with your comments on grammar and "grammar police". However, I feel I should point out that you used a very bad example to illustrate how not following formal grammar rules need not result in miscommunication. You used the ungrammatical line from Johnathan Colton's song "Code Monkey" ("Code monkey get coffee...") to show that an "ungrammatical" utterance can still convey the meaning intended by the speaker or author. However, because of their ungrammatical construction, the lines you chose could easily be interpreted as being in the imperative mood (i.e. a command for the code monkey to get up and get coffee) which would convey a very different meaning than the one you (and presumably Johnathan Colton) had in mind. In fact, that is how I interpreted the line when you played it. It wasn't until I played the entire song on Youtube that I came to agree with the interpretation you gave on the podcast.

While I agree with you that following standard English grammar rules has little effect on the communication of semantic content; communication of meaning is not all we use language for. We also use it to show our own social status and to judge that of others, and this is what use of standard grammar rules is really all about. Like it or not, when you use nonstandard grammar to converse with people not in your own social group, you are very likely signaling a lack of education and thereby low social status. Of course, this is an unfair form of prejudice, but it's a fact and it's not likely to change anytime soon. Fortunately, unlike with prejudice based such things as race or gender, grammar based language prejudice is relatively easy to overcome. It is within the power of nearly anyone to learn a few grammar rules and "pass" for a member of the elite class.
posted by randytoad at Saturday, 26 January 2013 05:30:07 EST 5:30am

And Another Thing

I would say what constitutes a genuine, common grammatical error made by native speakers, is the redundancy. Usage such as and also or and I did this too is redundant; one of those words is not need. Other common redundancies I see are things like going back again. In elementary school we were taught that this phrasing would mean three or more trips, but people often use it for only two. Or theres the painful 8 AM, in the morning. Yes, as opposed to 8 AM at night. While not all redundancies add confusion, they are almost always superfluous speechpadding, to make the speaker or writer sound smarter or more important.
posted by Lee Kalba at Tuesday, 22 January 2013 17:42:23 EST 5:42pm

he or she

Those of us in and around the LGBTQ community avoid phrasing like he/she because it focuses on a western prejudice of binary sexes. It presumes that sex and gender is a simple matter of black or white, on or off, male or female, when gender (what's inside) is more complicated than either/or and sex (what's outside) can be altered through medical treatments or simply obfuscated by manner of dress. In fact, that's the whole point of genderqueer: to live without visible gender.
As usual, entertaining podcast.
posted by Lee Kalba at Monday, 21 January 2013 04:58:08 EST 4:58am

Thanks for sharing.

Thanks! I think I'll start in the shallow end of the pool and work my way up. Already looking at those forums it's going to take a fair amount of learning to hold my breath and learning the dog paddle. Good stuff thanks for sharing.
posted by Ross D at Monday, 17 December 2012 14:53:36 EST 2:53pm

Thanks for sharing.

Thanks! I think I'll start in the shallow end of the pool and work my way up. Already looking at those forums it's going to take a fair amount of learning to hold my breath and learning the dog paddle. Good stuff thanks for sharing.
posted by Ross D at Monday, 17 December 2012 14:36:21 EST 2:36pm

Re: Thanks and Help

Hi Ross,

Regarding forums, I've also looked around for some good ones. I think the most popular is the Skeptics Guide to the Universe forums at is also good, but there aren't as many people so you might have to wait more for responses.

The one I use most is the Skeptic subreddit at It's a great place to keep up on skeptical news and to have conversations.

Hope that helps!
posted by Dumbass at Monday, 17 December 2012 08:04:03 EST 8:04am

Thanks and Help

I do enjoy how you take a tongueincheek, but seriously thought out views of these topics. Been enjoyin' these podcasts for a while now. (If you are a grammar nazi, you should bail out now.)

Can you suggest a good forum for those who aren't a "full blown giant of skepticism" but would like to talk in a civilized manner over skeptical topics that one (or thou) doesn't know very well?

I have very little time for the interwebs but after being on the sidelines for a year absorbing all the media empires (yours is in the running for top 'pire), I will make a new year resolution to be more involved.

I thank you empire overlord. My monopoly money is in the mail.
posted by Ross D at Thursday, 13 December 2012 16:05:14 EST 4:05pm

Re: Figured it out

I'm not sure why exactly that happened, but I've had other people report the same thing. Try unsubscribing in iTunes then re subscribing.
posted by Dumbass at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 06:14:06 EST 6:14am

Figured it out

I figured out what the problem was. Episode 13 is showing up with a 2013 date, so iTunes didn't think there was a new episode until I forced it to sync.

BTW, I don't know why my previous comment got duplicated, but I can't edit or delete it. Please remove the duplicate.
posted by Rick Smathers at Sunday, 18 November 2012 20:02:15 EST 8:02pm


For some reason, iTunes didn't update to show this podcast available.
posted by Rick Smathers at Sunday, 18 November 2012 19:59:54 EST 7:59pm


Oh I agreed with you on both subjects. I did not in particularly enjoy the subject of grammar errors. The delivery was 100% up to your usual standards. Although I am sure I could benefit from a lesson on grammar it is a boring subject
posted by spocahp anar at Tuesday, 13 November 2012 20:51:56 EST 8:51pm

Re: Worst subject matter yet

Is it that you find the topic boring or that you didn't agree with me?
posted by Dumbass at Monday, 12 November 2012 18:02:12 EST 6:02pm

Worst subject matter yet

I couldn't agree more that people should be able to say "I do not agree with you" and leave it at that. Name calling and ridiculing someone for their beliefs will never win an argument and shows a level of immaturity consistent with a gradeschool mentality. I also find that the people who so act in this manner are usually emotionally tied to their argument and incapable of rationally thinking it out.

On the topic of grammatical errors ; I can't beleive you spent all this time on it. Even worse I can't beleive I listened to it. This is by for you're worst subject matter yet. You still did manage to put out a good podcast despite this. Dumbass pick good subject next time ok.
posted by Spocahpanar at Monday, 12 November 2012 16:11:16 EST 4:11pm

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