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Eclectic tag selection, ho!

I have learned things. Most people have. More surprisingly, I’ve learned some things that many other people don’t know, and that they get wrong quite frequently. Unfortunately, that means I spot their getting it wrong, and it really rubs me up the wrong way.

That might seem like an opportunity for education, but people don’t like being given the chance to improve by having their ignorance pointed out; they would much rather get angry at the person attempting the education, and remain stupid. Humans, eh? Besides, with a regular readership of about six people I’m not going to spread that education very far.

But maybe I can spread “getting annoyed by others’ mistakes” around a bit.

I wish I were glued to a really long sandwich; it makes me sad that I’m not
There’s a thing in grammar called the subjunctive mood. It’s complicated beyond my ken, but it has to do with things that are hypothetical or imaginary. The bit that I understand is called the past subjunctive, and has to do with “was” and “were”.

Normally the difference is between singular and plural; “I was going shopping”, “they were going shopping”, and so on.

In the subjunctive – when you’re talking about something hypothetical – you always use “were”. For example, “I wish I were a werewolf”. Plural’s still the same; they also wished they were werewolves. Neither I nor they will ever be werewolves, so it’s subjunctive.

See? It’s quite simple, really, but now the lyrics to almost every song will get on your nerves.

Magazine clippings
I don’t know a great deal about firearms. I don’t need to; they’re incredibly rare things that I never have to use outside of games. I’m fine with that, because if I were allowed guns, all the idiots herabouts would also be allowed guns, and the only things worse than idiots are idiots with firepower. One can only afford so much ammunition and dodge so many bullets.

But occasionally I look things up that I’ve seen in games, and on one of these excursions discovered one of the most aggravating pieces of information ever learned from Wikipedia.

A clip is, as the name suggests, a thing that holds a bunch of bullets* together. There are some guns where clips are used to put a load of rounds into the gun, such as the M1 Garand (an American World War II rifle), but they’re relatively uncommon.

Most modern guns are loaded from a magazine. I imagine there are loads of flavours, but the most recognisable are the metal, bullet-filled, spring-loaded boxes that go into the handles of pistols, or the curvy things that clip onto the bottom of AK-47s. You know, the bit action movie stars use as a second handle whilst firing far more than the thirty rounds it holds. Apparently some magazines can be loaded with the aid of clips, but they are not clips, and the clips are removed before the magazine is used.

So now you will be lightly annoyed by every misuse of the term in action movies and games.

Your power-of-ten buddy
I’m surprised more people don’t know this one, because it’s been complained about for ages. Many moons ago, when a Roman legion ran away or performed inadequately, a punishment that might be awarded was that one in ten of the soldiers were executed. This was called decimation. That is what the word means; “removal of a tenth”. It doesn’t mean annihilate or exterminate or even “kill nine in ten”.

Apostrophes
Somehow, illiterate fuckwits persist in getting these wrong all the time.

Oh, people get gerunds wrong quite often too, but I’m yet to figure out why I should care about them doing so. But not their doing so. They don’t really seem to add anything or clear up much ambiguity. I’m probably just being ignorant.

 
* Incidentally, the “bullet” is really just the bit at the end that flies through the air. The whole thing – bullet, powder, case, primer and whatever – is called a cartridge or round. I’m not particularly annoyed by this error, but I’m sure some people are or will be now they’ve had it pointed out.

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