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This is a place to explore our language. Do you want to learn more about how languages work? Read here. Do you have a question about what is "right" and "wrong" in English? Read here. Have you ever noticed something funny, strange, or confusing about the way people talk? Then this is the place for you. Here we can explore the do's, don'ts, and d'ohs of our language.

Friday, April 20, 2007

An oldie but goodie...

Here's a quirky bit of rant for you. My students will recognize this one for sure.

Setting:
I am at the supermarket with a cranky wife and a crankier nine-month-old. We have just finished filling our shopping cart and now we are standing in line at the check-out lane.

Ben: (Points to the sign above) I can't believe this! Can Wal-Mart really be this dumb?
Laura: What?
Ben: That sign says "Twenty Items or Less!"
Laura: So?
Ben: It should say "Twenty Items or Fewer."
Laura: ...
Ben: The opposite for "more" can be "less" or "fewer." But "less" is reserved for quantities that can't be counted. "Fewer" is used for items that can.
Laura: Only you get worked up about this.
Ben: I'm going to say something about this to the cashier...
Laura: (Sighing) Please don't.

At the cash register
Cashier: Hello. Cute baby.
Laura: Thanks. Say "Hi," Michael.
Michael: Heh!
Ben: Um, your sign should say "Twenty Items or Fewer."
Cashier: Huh?
Laura: Ignore him.

On the way out
Laura: Do you have to embarrass me like that?
Ben: Doesn't it bother you that nobody even cares about that sign.
Laura: (Sweetly) I guess it bothers me fewer than it does you.
Michael: Heh!

1 comment:

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About The Author

My name is Ben Edwards. I live in Cape Girardeau, Missouri where I grew up. In 2002, I graduated Truman State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics. I have a wife named Laura and a son named Michael. I am proud to be a Spanish teacher at Notre Dame Regional High School. When I am not working, I like to spend time with my family.