13 January 2011

Is it just me, or is this bad grammar?

 
I am currently reading a fantastic, and often reviewed, Booker Prize shortlisted novel. But I came across this whopper of a sentence.
"The Germans themselves doesn't know either."
Am I crazy? I know I am no expert in grammar, but I am pretty sure this is wrong.
    

22 comments:

  1. Could it be a printing error? It sounds horrible in any case.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are not crazy. It should be “Is it just I, or is this bad grammar?” So, yes, there is an error in grammar. “It is I,” not “It is me” — similar to saying “This is he” when identifying yourself on the phone.

    (Just kidding — sort of. Grammarians are arguing common usage vs. formal grammar on this point even as we speak.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I wouldn't let my kids get away with it. Either you have a slightly illiterate character, or a bad editor. (Or is it a translation?)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm assuming it isn't a translation (even then, an editor should have caught it) or dialogue, in which case, the editor and any proofreaders at the publisher who published it ought to be fired. I'm on my high horse about that these days, though, appalled by how many typos and grammatical errors appear in published books. When it gets TOO appalling, I have to pick up a book written prior to 1960 They're almost always flawless in this regard.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's pretty sad, it's so blatant. And I would have written "Is it just me?" also. "Is it just I" still doesn't sound right to me. Or to I. Now I'm all confused.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Darlene: I suppose it could be, but the print I have was after it was shortlisted for the Booker (hence all the ugly promos on the cover) so you would think they would have fixed it for a reprint.

    DPV: I always have trouble with I and Me. No matter how many times it is explained I can't keep it straight. However, even if I did manage to get that rule right, I am not sure I would ever say "Is it just I".

    Susan: I am pretty sure it is not a translation.

    Emily: I am just finishing a Dover edition of Lady Audley's Secret. It is a reprint of the original from 1887 and is riddled with what appear to be typesetter errors.

    Karen: And it is such a prominant book, one would expect this kind of error to be caught.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thomas, I cracked up when I read that quote - that is the epitome of bad grammar. I hate when that happens when I'm so immersed in my reading, because its quite jarring. And truthfully, I'm surprised that error was in The Glass Room, considering how much publicity that book has received. Hmmm.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It seems a bit contrived perhaps? Was it a translation(I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with the book).

    ReplyDelete
  9. Definitely terrible, ack, doesn't it make it so difficult to READ after coming across something like this. My sympathies.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Poor proof-reading. I don't recall it when I read it though and it is something that jumps out. Hmmm.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My post of the day riffs on language a little too, thanks for the intro. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Eek, i read this novel about a year ago and I don't remember picking up on it! Perhaps at the time I thought: "maybe the author is doing something clever that i don't understand"...haha!

    -Aimee
    http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/poisoned-apples-blog/

    ReplyDelete
  13. Eurgh... and from someone called Simon, if I'm recognising the cover correctly.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Definitely wrong.

    But to stick up for the copyeditor and/or proofreader, sometimes when a gaffe like this gets through to publication, it's because there was a bigger gaffe nearby or a keying error was made when corrections were being entered. It's easy enough to spot the error in isolation, but surround it with more text, which may have reached the editor in extremely poor shape, and it becomes an entirely different task.

    Because I know how easily errors can slip through, I tend to not get annoyed if I spot an error or two like this in a book. It's only when there are lots that wonder what the copyeditor was doing.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've read some great books with copy errors and though they can be incredibly frustrating, I don't let it necessarily drag down the quality of the book if everything else is truly great. It's always good to point these mistakes out, though. Perhaps later editions of the book will have them corrected.

    (In my sleep-deprived state, it should be noted that I at first read it as "don't know" and didn't understand what all the fuss was about. Then I realized that I clearly have something very wrong in common with the copyeditor...)

    ReplyDelete
  16. First of all, I do not agree with dvp. Despite the word placement, your title to the post is alternately "It is me, is it not. . .". The subject is "it", not "me". So you were correct in not saying "I".

    Of course "doesn't" from the book is incorrect. Unfortunately, programs such as SpellCheck only flag misspelled words and do not correct grammar. I have a problem with my iPhone because it will substitute the wrong word if I am not careful, such as "it's" when I peck out "its". __ The Devoted Classicist, http://tdclassicist.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. At the risk of beating a dead horse ... My comment about the grammatical correctness of the title was meant facetiously, not critically. It was just funny in my warped sense of humor that a blog entry about a grammar error would have a grammar error in the title (albeit only very technically speaking). "It is I" is correct grammar because "to be" is a copulative verb, but "It is me" is correct because it is common usage and, by the nature of language itself, common usage ends up dictating the rules.
    http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-linking-verbs.aspx
    In future, I will keep my nerdy, pedantic humor to myself.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yes, the quote is incorrect in that it should read: "The Germans themselves DON'T know either."

    ReplyDelete
  19. Nadia: It does seem like a pretty big mistake for such a popular book.

    Stefan: No translation. But I think you might like this book. I think it deals with architecture in a way that wouldn't annoy an architect. But then again maybe it would..

    Julia: After I did a double take and re-read it a few times it didn't take long to get hooked back into the story.

    Claire: Do you still have your copy? I could give you the page number to see if it is wrong in your book too.

    Aimee: Do you still have your copy? See my reply above to Claire.

    Simon: Not all Simon's can be perfect. Wouldn't that be boring?

    Mystica: Sure does.

    Teresa: I wasn't annoyed so much as incredulous that such a popular and oft-printed book could have such a whopper in it. As you know my skills in that area are less than perfect.

    Biblio: Sometimes are minds are fix things before we notice something is wrong.

    Ti: yes.

    Polly: I looked online to see if anyone else spotted it, but so far I haven't found anything.

    TD: When the grammar rules get too complex my eyes glaze over and I get confused.

    dpv: I wasn't sure if your tongue was in your cheek or not. :)

    Erin: Welcome to My Porch, thanks for the comment. Does this mean you parse my posts for proper grammar? I hope not.

    ReplyDelete