August 19, 2007

Peeveblogging marches on

Nearly two years ago, in one of my first posts on Language Log, I introduced the term "peeveblogging" to describe "weblogs slavishly devoted to particular points of grammar, punctuation, or usage." My two exhibits at the time were "Literally, A Web Log" (excoriating the not-so-literal usage of literally) and "Apostrophe Abuse" (bane of the greengrocer and comrade-in-arms to Lynne Truss). Now, thanks to Nancy Friedman at Away with Words, here are two more like-minded peeveblogs.

The "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks (Making Fun of Bad Punctuation Since 2005) is exactly as advertised: a collection of signs, ads, and articles festooned with random inverted commas. An example: The "last" person to leave "dont forget" to close the door. Blogkeeper Bethany comments: "While I'm sure they appreciate the reminder, I wonder how you know if you are the 'last' person or not?"

Along the same lines, lowercase L asks the plaintive question, "Ever notice hand-written signs with letters in all-caps, except for the letter L? It looks like an uppercase i ... WHY DO PEOPlE WRITE lIKE THIS?"

A full analysis of these language-related gripes would require situating them in a larger blogospheric context. Bloggers these days play the "naming and shaming" game with a wide array of social artifacts, from customized license plates to passive-aggressive notes to crummy church signs. The targets of these snarkers tend to be various public displays of language use in graphic form. Thanks in large part to the prevalence of cellphone cameras, such displays can now be easily tracked down "in the wild" and shared with online communities of sympathizers. It's all part of the complex and ever-evolving ecology of peevology.

Posted by Benjamin Zimmer at August 19, 2007 01:41 PM