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Lie Lady Lie: National Grammar Day and Music

Monday, March 04, 2013

Sometimes, bad grammar can drive a person a little bit insane. (flickr/eli_reusch)

Recently, our regular contributor Faith Salie took to the Soundcheck blog to air her grievances about bad grammar in music. From Paula Cole to Eric Clapton to Leonard Cohen, it turns out that musicians can be rather careless when it comes to grammatical rules and their song lyrics. We talk with Faith, as well as Mignon Fogerty -- founder of the Grammar Girl website and podcast -- about examples of poor grammar in music. Plus, our listeners chime in with their favorite... er, least favorite... examples as well. 


Mignon Fogerty and Faith Salie

Comments [8]


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Mar. 07 2013 09:40 AM
Philip Mirabelli, Ph. D. from NYC

You did not mention the view of descriptive linguistics. According to this perspective, for instance, it may be impossible for a native speaker to make a mistake since linguists look to native speakers to find what is supposedly "correct." The word that should have been used instead of "correct" is "non-standard." The use on this program of the word "correct" is uninformed and this is what offended my ear, not the grammar. My ear and moral sense in fact was offended by this program's unquestioned use of the unenlightened and politically offensive prescriptive-grammatical phrase "incorrect grammar" on this program, not any of the grammatical constructions mentioned.

Mar. 05 2013 12:02 PM

Paul McCartney, "Live and Let Die": "But if this ever changing world in which we live in..."

Mar. 04 2013 09:55 PM
Paul NJ from NJ

I always thought "I wish I was Homeward Bound" was the most disconcerting

Mar. 04 2013 09:40 PM

I am dismayed that several times during the show Jerome Kern was credited with writing the words to "Ol' Man River." The music was by Kern, but the words were of course by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Mar. 04 2013 09:30 PM

Props to Beyonce for correct use of the subjunctive in "If I were a Boy"

Mar. 04 2013 09:15 PM
Paul from Queens

Your guests are far too precious about grammar in songwriting. Would they have us abandon meter, rhyme and poetry for grammar in a form that relies on artistic interpretation? None of the grammatically "correct" examples that have been proposed present the same feeling, emotion, or aural impact as the song when written. Please let the songwriters write.

Mar. 04 2013 09:15 PM
John Grannis from Montclair NJ

My wife's first language is not English, therefore she notices grammatical anomalies we natives miss. For example: the Beatles' "It Won't Be Long" "It won't be long, yeah, yeah, yeah." Positive and negative clashing! It won't be long, no, no, no.

Feb. 25 2013 02:27 AM

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