Friday, February 22, 2013

Whatever happened to the phrase "there are"?

I'm sure I'm not the only one to have noticed this, although I don't hear anyone else railing about it...
But whatever happened to the phrase, "there are"?

Lately what I notice people saying--including professional broadcasters--is "there's" followed by something plural.

"There's lots of reasons for...."

"There's opinions on all sides..."

It's gotten so ubiquitous that I don't think people hear it anymore for what it is: illiterate speech. There: I've said it.

Would you ever dream of saying "There is opinions on all sides"? Of course not. But that's exactly what you are saying if you say "there's opinions on all sides."

So, my question for the day: what's wrong with "there are"?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Biased or just expressing a point of view?

In the last few years, I've noticed students becoming quite jaded about bias. Maybe it's because you've all grown up in the era of the 24-hour news cycle and its incessant need to be fed and the immense amounts of money to be made from advertising on said 24-hour news networks. Whatever the cause, many of you are so skeptical that you believe everything to be biased (and, yes, I did spell the word correctly just now--please note--bias is the noun and biased is the adjective).

Anyway, the word biased has a strongly negative connotation. It means something (or someone) so slanted in one way or another that it may lose veracity (or as Stephen Colbert would say, truthiness). But because someone writes or shoots something with a point of view in mind, does that necessarily make the outcome--the article, book, or movie--biased?

On the other hand, I am really glad to see that students are skeptical about the motives of the producers of information. That's good and healthy. One of the first things I do when I get an email forward about how my phone is going to explode or my gas tank will kill me, is to run it past Those good folks do the work for us so we don't have to hunt down every unfounded rumor. That kind of skepticism is helpful.

So, keep up the good work. Be skeptical and be discriminating consumers of information, but don't let it make you so biased yourself that you believe nothing you see, hear, or read.