Wednesday, 21 June 2006

All grown up

Dorian got a letter from the ATO today - it seems that at the age of 35 he's finally finished paying off his HECS debt (now hilariously/insultingly called a HELP debt...I mean, come on). Good work, man. A milestone I never actually expected to see in our lifetimes.

My own debt, last time I looked, was $35 000 and rising, Ha ha. Best not to think on that in too much detail.

Well, let's change the subject. Are there any brother or sister members of the Pedant Tribe in the house? Perhaps you'd like to contemplate the spinechilling sentence I read today, in print, on a piece of film publicity material printed about five years ago:

Nothing, and no-one, are as it seem.


Isn't that a sterling effort? It certainly set my teeth painfully on edge. And to my chagrin I haven't managed to reload it in any acceptable configuration. This sentence appears to be a lost cause. Have a go at fixing it, if you like.

On a brighter note, looking for something unrelated in the library I came across a bibliography entry for an essay written by John B. Sloop. The book was published in 1977 so Mr Sloop is not a child of criminally whimsical parents, rather, the victim of a cruel historical accident. Don't laugh, it could happen to you.

23 comments:

Zoe said...

That sentence should be sent to the library with the port and a pistol.

And I went to uni with a boy called James Bond. He didn't even call himself Jim.

Lucy Tartan said...

I went to high school with a boy called Rob Lowe.

Brownie said...

The ugly sentence proves that any illiterate can get themselves hired to compose film publicity.

Lucy Tartan said...

I guess so. It is pretty awful. Maybe it was the work experience kid. Or perhaps the printer or some other intermediary person "helped."

David said...

Unless I'm mistaken you're suggesting John B. Sloop's parents couldn't have been criminally whimsical because they named him after a 60s song and he would have had to be older than the 60s to have a book published in 1977. Yet the song dates back at least to the 1920s, so perhaps they WERE being cruel. Although it's strange what people used to think acceptable in names. My father's parents were hoping for a girl, in which case they were going to take advantage of the fact that their surname, Nichols, was the same as a famous (male) writer of the day and call him Beverley (see http://www.timberpress.com/beverleynichols/index.cfm) (it's not about my father). When he emerged a boy for some reason they decided they couldn't have a boy called Beverley. (insert commas where you will in previous sentence). Up until that time they had apparently considered it all a very fine joke. Not that I'm telling that story to suggest my grandparents had foolish notions of sophistication, or at least, no more than anyone else then.

Anyway I am glad you broke the four-day drought and posted again (I accidentally typed posited), it seems like it's been ages. For some reason it had never occurred to me until a few days ago to go back and read the SASB archive. I enjoyed it very much. I am not surprised you have many tens of thousands of fans. I am surprised you have not been snapped up by the print media however.

Congratulations to Dorian for beating HECS. I must say my HECS debt has been and continues to be a burden on me and will be for some time. I did some foolish things in terms of HECS in the early 90s when I was at Sydney University and trying to keep up with those absinthe-quoffing fops.

R H said...

Beverley Nichols is very good. So is Hal Porter; similar style.

So what's wrong with: 'Nothing and no one are what they seem.' (I've written to your university today - but not about this)

-Robbert!

Lucy Tartan said...

Naming a kid after a folk song is sad, but not evil like naming him after a Beach Boys song.

RH, your repair job is pretty good. I wouldn't complain about that sentence. I'm not entirely happy with the "Nothing...are what they seem", however.

R H said...

Yes, well in context it's okay, that's my submission.

But with you I'm always ready to stand in the corner, because I know you will never give in.

(Which is part of your charm)

-Robert.

Kate said...

The problem is that you have an adverb and a pronoun competing for all the attention. Or something. If I were doing film PR I'd rewrite it as 'Nothing is as it seems. No-one can be trusted." Which is awfully cliched but then, film PR is written by people who have generally graduated form uni with a marketing degree.

Lucy Tartan said...

The longer I look at it the more trouble I'm having with the whole "nothing is as it seems" biz anyway. Nothing, the entity, is the subject. Nothing is as it seems, ie, nothing is not hiding anything and is manifesting perfectly straightforward nothingness.

I accept that any expression involving negation confuses me, ie Mr. Collins's "not unseldom" does my head in, but even so, I find the phrase Real Stupid.

I agree, Kate, there's no nice way to save it without splitting it into two sentences. RH, you found the best possible outcome, I didn't mean to be overly critical. Once you get on the pedant merry-go-round it's hard to get off.

Lucy Tartan said...

Nothing can't be an entity though, can it. Grammatically it is, but logically, Nothing is the Anti-Entity.

Dear oh dear. Well, if "Nothing is as it seems" is an acceptable English sentence then why not just drop the "and no-one" part. Nothing (as the obverse of Everything) ought to cover people in this instance.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Hmm. For me the grammatical issues are (a) singular v plural, and (b) gendered and neutral pronouns.

Everything here is in fact singular - 'no thing' and 'no one'. The so-called solution to the gender problem, substituting 'they' for 'he or she' -- I speet on eet.

The only transliteration I can come up with is 'Nothing is as it seems, and no-one is as he or she seems' which is grammatically correct and ideologically sound but stylistically unutterably gruesome.

I would therefore like to shift the focus and challenge this sentence not on the grounds of grammar, but on the grounds of truth. Some things, and some people, are exactly what they seem.

R H said...

When you're on the back of a tiger it's hard to get off.

Or so I've heard.

Lucy Tartan said...

Things and people are not as they seem.

Lucy Tartan said...

Hasn't much of a ring, though.

Ampersand Duck said...

You're making my brain ache!

Pavlov's Cat said...

Wouldn't it need to be 'Things and people are never as they seem'?

ThirdCat said...

That which seems, is not.

Lucy Tartan said...

yes. But then there's be no point seeing the film, since it'd be just the same familiar old confusing masquerade.

The movie was The Quiet American, by the way.

Suse said...

I used to work in advertising (feel free to hate me now) and I was constantly amazed at how many people* saw a sentence/jingle/logo/tagline before it was released, and yet grammatical abominations still occurred.

* copywriter, art director, creative head, secretary, boss, client, typesetter, etc.

PS. My grade 6 class included a Natalie Wood and a Howard Hughes.

Lucy Tartan said...

Thirdcat, I didn't see your comment when I wrote mine earlier. I do believe you've cracked it. Grammar and mysteriousness.

Suse, I helped painstakingly proofread an edition of a Jane Austen novel last year, and a couple of months back a blog friend wrote to tell me of a really bad misprint he'd noticed in the finished product. Invisibility is real.

Kate said...

I can't tell you how many magazines I've proofread that have been printed that have had awful embarrassing mistakes in them. Despite the evidence of the blogosphere, I am a careful, painstaking proofreader -- I use a piece of paper, I read everything several times, I think deeply about the ramefications of all punctuation. And yet, the stupid obvious awful mistakes always leapt out at me when the mag came back from the printers. My solution: I stopped looking at the finished products.

Mel said...

I just worked on a piece of council propaganda. They were too cheap to pay me to sub-edit the full 50 pages so I only did 4 pages. It is riddled with errors, but the worst is that in the back is a massive headline: "CALENDER". Luckily, we invented a fake sub-editor to take the fall.