or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Spell this incorrectly and some men will want to have a word with you.

I have a few passionate, if completely insupportable, beliefs about words--such as my undying contention that there is only one way to properly pronounce "kilometre"--and here's an example of another one, this time from the sub-head (which is to say the headline under the main headline) to a Cintra Wilson article, "Christmas with the Wilsons", in Salon:

For one day each year, my mixed-up family of Jews, Muslims, Christians and New Agers gathers to sing karaoke carols, munch on jello mold and get wasted at church

It drives me insane. It's self-evident to me that "munch" means--or properly ought to mean--"audibly, crunchily eat"; that is, you can munch on potato chips or carrot sticks, but you clearly cannot munch on oatmeal or pudding or, duh, Jell-O mold, which is probably the single quietest food in the entire world. Why would a writer, even a sub-head writer, pick what may be the most inappropriate possible verb when he or she had dozens of others to choose from?

I expect the nice lawyers at General Foods will be bitch-slapping Salon any minute now, not for this horrible misusage (that's my job) but for the misspelling of a trademarked product name; it's "Jell-O", not "jello", and they expect professional writers to get it right. Corporations are very tetchy about such things; if you use "Xerox" as an uncapitalized verb or "Kitty Litter" as an uncapitalized generic name for cat gravel, you will be roundly castigated by other, equally passionate lawyers, too.


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