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Posts Tagged ‘Passive vs. active voice’

I love the show “Hoarders.” I hate the written chunks between segments. Not only are they unnecessary recaps, but they usually feature passive voice. I hate passive voice.

On the last episode, I was shocked to discover something I hate even more: an egregious error. Take a look:

"Hoarders" error

Despite how people may want this to work, and expect it to work, the possessive form of “it” is “its.” No apostrophe. “It’s” is always a contraction for “it is” or “it has.” Those are the rules.

To the “Hoarders” production crew, I say, “Please stop hoarding apostrophes.”

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My friend Ed is the publisher of a sports publication. During football season, he and Trish the Human spend many weekends covering the Jaguars. I’m not sure how it transpired, but it was decided* that I would come with him today and cover the Jaguars/Titans game from behind the scenes. I think what led to it was the fact that I was intrigued by their tales of all the weirdo press people who cover the games.

So, Ed and I drove to Jacksonville this morning, listening to the B-52s (mine) and Ringo Starr (his). We arrived in record time, then paid a blistering $30 for parking — $30!! WTF? We parked and walked the trail of tailgating to the media entry. I would have been happy to stay in the parking lot. Fat Floridians were grilling burgers, drinking beer, and listening to live music. (I got out of the car to the tune of “What I Like About You.”) Yet we pressed on.

Clearly he knows how to grill something tasty

Clearly he knows how to grill something tasty

On the Tailgate Trail

On the Tailgate Trail

Ed and I went through the security cavity search, then headed to the press area to get food. On the menu: sandwiches, some meat product in goo, and over-oiled potatoes. Savory.

He showed me to my seat in the air-conditioned press box and he headed to the sidelines to shoot the game. I looked for him, but I realized I might never see him again.

That's me, working hard (hardly working) in the press box

That's me, working hard (hardly working) in the press box

It is a sea of teal Jones-Drew jerseys with shots of pink for breast cancer awareness. In the press box, I am painfully aware of my deceit.  Everyone here lives for football, and can discuss the nuances of the game. I am only here to observe and pass judgment.

And here is one call now:

What is the deal with radio and TV folks and their “broadcast” voices? It is ridiculous. There is no need to switch into some extra loud, hyper-enunciated vocalization as the guy a few seats down is doing.

Within the first few moments of the game, it becomes clear that it will be a good day for the Jaguars. No. 32 — a look at the media guide tells me that it is Maurice Jones-Drew of fan jersey fame — scored a touchdown. I was browsing the Museum of Bad Art’s Web site, but I sensed anticipation from my press cohorts. I looked up just in time to see him jog into the end zone.

More touchdowns follow. The mood in the box is jubilant, and I wonder what happened to journalistic objectivity.

View from the box

View from the box

It is halftime now, and my butt hurts. I think I’ll go get popcorn.

Stay tuned: more coverage to come!

* deliberate use of passive voice

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Passive voice bothers me and sucks the life out of material. Academics, politicians and other bureaucrats LOVE passive voice. My students seem to like it too. At least that’s what their papers indicate.

Examples:

“As Americans, we tend to be frowned upon.”

“A new collection of her nonfiction has just been released.”

Just say WHO did/does/is doing WHAT, and say it first:

“French people tend to frown upon Americans visiting Paris.”

“Random House just released a new collection of Toni Morrison’s nonfiction work.”

I like this page because it offers more examples and advice, and has a quiz. Doesn’t everyone like a quiz?

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