Tuesday, November 15, 2005

$3 billion?!

NBC Nightly News had a story Friday night about business workers' poor grammar skills (thanks, Jessica). Here's the story they wrote based on the clip, which is also available at the site.

It's your basic article bemoaning the state of grammar today and starts out with Brian Williams explaining that a viewer took the show to task for using "less" when "fewer" was called for. He apologized for the mistake but said that "we are in the middle of a bad-grammar epidemic in this country."
Grammar and spelling have really gone the way of the black-and-white television set these days. The good news is, some people are taking much-needed action.
That action? They cited a report that Fortune 500 companies spend $3 billion a year retraining workers in basic English. That number seems shocking to me. (I dug around for more; I think it comes from a National Commission on Writing report, but that wasn't exactly the smoking gun I was looking for. Paging Carl Bialik!)

It was difficult to believe much of anything from this clip, though, when it ended with this rant (floating words superimposed in the background):
"Unbelievable" is one of today's "in" words. But is it overused or used incorrectly? Unbelievable means I didn't believe a word I just said. Anxious -- "the president is anxious to meet the prime minister" -- means he doesn't want to meet him at all. And irregardless -- look it up in the dictionary. You won't find it because it's not a word. Unbelievable.
OK, I maintain the distinction between eager and anxious.

But what's this "unbelievable" rant about?

And "irregardless" isn't in the dictionary? They must have caught this error sometime after the piece was taped but before it aired: Brian Williams came back on the screen and said: "It gets worse. We did find "irregardless" in two dictionaries. It's a word, just not a good one." And on the story version, this was tacked on the end: "Post script: Webster's New World Dictionary does include the word 'irregardless,' defining it as follows: adj., adv. REGARDLESS: a nonstandard or humorous usage."


At 10:34 PM, November 15, 2005, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

An overblown story? On NBC? By Brian Williams? I believe.


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