Enjoying the typos, or: Armitage throws down the gauntlet and Servetus picks it up

“How much do you think I enjoyed the typos, Mr. Armitage?” Servetus remarked, grinning.

Thorin Oakenshield / Richard Armitage as one of Santa’s Elves in cap from jib-jab cutout video, here. My cap.

Family tradition to take center stage as son pursues acting fame

(London: Reuters)

Even as an international furor erupted over his style and punctuation choices, as Christmas Eve turned to Christmas Day, a closing salutation by Richard Armitage in his message to fans continued to puzzle Armitage-watchers worldwide. Research reveals that the answer to the question about the meaning of the salute, “Enjoy the typos!” lies in an old family tradition.

Responses to “THE message” come fast and furious

Fangrrls worldwide were literally all atwitter as the time zones woke up, one by one, on December 24th. The most technologically up-to-date were capable only of cryptic tweets of ecstasy as they responded to the 2011 Christmas message from Richard Armitage, star of North & South (2004), Spooks (2008-2010), and The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey (2012).

“!!!!!!!” more than one fan tweeted, for an entire 140 characters. Others used vocabulary intelligible only to Armitage fan insider groups, generating a brief rise in the peach futures market, as peach growers who follow twitter were confused by the occasional use of an insider term. Members of this group were often so excited that they forgot to include the obligatory #richardarmitage hashtag, drawing into doubt the likelihood that the actor will trend again anytime soon.

In commenting, fans of the educated, middle-aged, protective, BBC4-listener sort noted suspicions that exactly this was what Armitage sought to achieve by disseminating his missive in a way calculated to render every fan who read it speechless for at least two hours. The modest thespian is well known for shying away from publicity and for having expressed fears about what would happen if he tweeted.

Members of this latter group were nonetheless equally pleased with the message, if somewhat wordier in expressing their responses and offering interpretations. “It’s clear,” said one thrilled woman, “that the presence of so few apostrophes, all correctly placed, signals the complete success of his covert Christmas campaign of last year, ‘Apostrophes for Armitage Admirers’. All of the feral apostrophes have found homes with fans, and there just weren’t any leftover for RA to misplace.”

“It’s also a sign of a major development in his career,” another fan reported. “Now that he’s no longer being cast in roles that require the Northern English accent, he can actually pronounce the consonants at the beginnings and endings of words and no longer needs to keep so many apostrophes lying around.”

“But he’s still remaining faithful to his career roots,” enthused a third fan, “by leaving out the definite article in front of the date of Christmas!” Overwhelmed by his decision to write “25th,” instead of “the 25th,” she swooned again before she could be asked further questions.

This optimistic take on Armitage’s punctiliousness with the apostrophe was relativized to some extent by other sources contacted for comment.

Responding directly to the role that “northern” roles had played in Armitage’s career, a Yorkshire dialect group contacted for comment was busy making posters that featured pictures of John Standring with the label: “it’s t’25th, y’daft owd bugger!” Although the group refused to make any official statement until their protest begins on Boxing Day (and members remain divided over whether to demonstrate on Christmas, fearing that spectators and sympathizers might be confused by seeing signs about “t’25th” on the 26th of December), sources inside the group revealed a strong feeling of betrayal among Yorkshire fans, who’d expected to continue to see apostrophes play a major role in Armitage’s Christmas messages.

Richard Armitage as Heinz Kruger. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

American dialect groups, too, resisted the wave of euphoria that appeared to be sweeping the fangrrrls. “After we agreed to stop our protests when he played a U.S. government bureaucrat named after an American university in an American film this summer,” a spokesperson for a PAC called AMERICANS FOR SUPERHERO FILM IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW! STOP BRITS FROM PLAYING GERMANS WHO ARE JUST PRETENDING TO BE U.S. CITIZENS, “we feel he owes it to us at the very least to spell his verbs correctly.” Speaking from an undisclosed location dug deep into a deactivated Minuteman bunker in South Dakota, the man stressed that he wished to remind readers that Americans “scarf down” their holiday meals rather than “scoffing” them.

On the theme of Armitage’s eating habits, a spokeswoman from Weight Watchers weighed in to urge the peripatetic actor to eat more carefully and more slowly. “It’s probably that yo-yo dieting that he does for these roles,” she commented on condition that her name not be revealed, “along with the dwarfs’ heavy consumption of ale in their free time, that makes him want to gobble. Plus,” she added, “his mum will be happier if he relishes his food rather than simply stuffing it down, and all boys want to please their mums at Christmas.”

Sibulele Gcilitshana kisses Richard Armitage in gratitude for his recognition of the problem with a shortage of exclamation points to write click consonants in African languages, in Strike Back 1.4. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com. Gcilitshana has an alveolar click consonant in the first consonant of her last name, but Xhosa writes these consonants with Latin letters rather than the IPA symbols.

But dialect and style-related comments prevailed among non-fangrrl responses to the message. “It’s actually quite remarkable of him. Most people aren’t aware of this problem at all,” said the publicity chair for the group UK CITIZENS UNITED FOR GREEN USE OF PUNCTUATION, a group that’s become notorious for urging the use of the term “eleventy” to substitute for multiple exclamation points and its campaign, “Every word deserves all its consonants.” She tells us: “First-world demands for exclamation points due to texting and tweeting have driven prices steeply upward. But speakers of some African languages need this punctuation mark just to speak or to say the name of their language. These languages are literally becoming extinct, and so some language reformers have urged the substitution of the apostrophe to write the alveolar click in hopes of saving the languages.” She continued, “Richard Armitage is well known not only for his linguistic deftness, but also for his awareness of the troubles of the oppressed. He probably became aware of this issue while on location for the shooting of Strike Back. With his restrained use of both exclamation points and apostrophes in his holiday message, he has probably decided to ensure that enough of both are available to Khoisan language speakers at this important holiday time.” Confronted with Armitage’s own commission of an eleventy in the closing line of his message, the publicity chair cut off the interview abruptly.

A final explanation for Armitage’s punctuation style was offered at the Institute for Worldwide English Punctuation Conformity. Its president, Harmonious Doublestop, noted that commas are one of the biggest issues of contention between authors on one side of the Atlantic and their editors on the other. “The fights over the Oxford comma,” he began, and cringed, his eyes filling with tears. “Well, I just can’t speak of it.” Pressed for further comment, he noted, “Armitage’s ongoing use of the comma, instead of the semi-colon, to join independent clauses in a series may indicate a future push on the actor’s part to simplify this particular usage rule, but I can’t imagine that English and American copy editors could ever get on board with that. On the other hand,” he continued, “German students of English would welcome this change, which would bring English comma usage closer to German, where independent clauses can be joined via comma with impunity.”

To close this section, we merely note the press release from the Study Centre for Plurals of Greek vs Latin words, stating that Armitage’s inability to identify correctly the plural of “hypothalamus” indicates the ongoing need for widespread social alertness to this ongoing problem, which plagues even university instructors who refer (incorrectly) to their semester plans for courses as “syllabi.”

“Enjoy the typos”: The REAL explanation

Amidst the huge furor generated by Armitage’s message, digging deeper for the real context of the statement produced valuable intel from sources close to the actor’s youth. A neighbor of the Armitage family confirms, “’Enjoy the typos!’ is a long-standing Armitage family greeting, something his parents would say at Christmastime instead of “Merry Christmas”! The family passed out Christmas cards with typographical, stylistic, and grammatical errors during the holidays and when a friend or neighbor came over to point out the error, he or she would be treated to some wassail and a group reading of Fowler‘s. In fact, that’s where young Richard got some of his first dramatic experience.”

Pressed for comment on Fowler’s, the spokesman for AMERICANS FOR SUPERHERO FILM IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW! remarked only, “Well, that certainly explains why — just like the average Brit — he can’t distinguish between ‘which’ and ‘that’.”

“As I remember it,” reports another neighbor, “the boys always had a lot of fun with the family tradition, since they were responsible for creating the typos. One year in particular an exchange student from Iowa was living here, and he was really struggling with the placement of his ‘u’s. Almost had to leave school over it! The Armitage family absolutely took that boy under their wing, although the friendship was challenged when they had to deal with the ‘s’ vs. ‘z’ question in certain verbs.”

Friends from Armitage’s days in musical theater and drama school remain characteristically close-mouthed on this question, but a close friend from Armitage’s LAMDA days who is currently working in a Spanish-language children’s show as a dancing upside-down question mark was persuaded to recount his memories of the developing actor’s cultivation of the “Enjoy the typos!” tradition. “Si, he was extremely enthusiastic,” the man noted. “He even said that if ever hit the big time, he didn’t want to have fans at all unless he could play ‘Enjoy the typos!’ with them at Christmastime.” He declined further questions, however, noting that standing on his head all the time was extremely stressful in the face of increased demand for his services, particularly in the United States, where he has specialized in genre roles involving inverted punctuation.

The The Hobbit star himself was reported by his publicist to be spending the holiday in seclusion, and could not be reached for comment. Fangrrls suspect that he would decline to explain what he meant he was saying, anyway. Sources close to the dwarfy actor, however, have revealed that instead of celebrating Christmas, the entire Armitage family was attending an article advisory retreat. This event is being held in preparation for what journalists anticipate will be a lengthy style discussion once The Hobbit premieres: whether the definitive article must be doubled when using the film title as an adjective (“The The Hobbit star…”, or whether the film title can only be used as part of an adjectival prepositional phrase (“The star of The Hobbit…”). The Armitages were reported to be salivating with anticipation over the retreat, especially given the chance it offered to initiate the actor’s young nephew into the family tradition of “Enjoy the typos!” at a most intense and decisive phase.


[In case any doubt remains, this was a spoof. Servetus writes under the assumption that Richard Armitage, having turned forty this year, is finally all grown up and can take it as it is meant, all in good fun. She also re-affirms herewith that fifteen years of employment in a university have revealed to her no necessary or automatic correlation between anyone’s ability to spell and punctuate English correctly and either his intelligence or his educational level. If necessary, any angsty discussion about this issue can be joined to last year’s angsty discussion about this issue.]


Mr. Armitage’s JustGiving links. Think we could get to £15,000 by New Year?

~ by Servetus on December 25, 2011.

130 Responses to “Enjoying the typos, or: Armitage throws down the gauntlet and Servetus picks it up”

  1. ROFLOL!!!!!!

  2. Wonderful writing, Servetus. I knew from the second line that you were just having a bit of fun, so I’m improving!

    I really got a quite a kick out of Richard’s mistakes in his message – shows he’s still human, hey? We’ll continue to love him and support him.

  3. Dude, when I said have some more wine I didn’t mean this ^^^. LOL, dying over here!

    • More wine usually=depressed Servetus. I actually wrote this while sober. Thinking of gags helped me through the day yesterday.

  4. […] Fest Continues or Richard Armitage Makes Grammar Fun Wow. I’m digging this discussion of typos, and I may never recover from the thrill of understanding the nuances of the apostrophe (see […]

  5. *wiping tears* I just don’t know WHAT to say, so will just wipe more tears!!!!!!!!!! Ooops, too many?! =0)

  6. Oh, Servetus…just a hint…if you’re going to pretend to write from London….you’ll need to learn proper spelling…not that awful American way!!!!


  7. I thought Servetus was serious, and I’m offended.

  8. Congratulation, servetus! How does it feel to be recognized by the man himself like this? 😉 Folks over at TORn think the enjoy the typos bit was priceless, but they don’t quite know, what he meant.

    BTW a spell checker add-on for firefox is a very useful tool. I would be lost without it and I have it installed both in English and in German.

  9. I’ve just been reading through Servetus’ post on Richard’s 2010 Christmas message and I’d just like to say…..if you use the word “whethere”, it must ALWAYS be qualified by the word “Not”!!!!!

  10. 🙂

  11. typo alert…..”whether”


    • in school we learned that “whether” usually implies “or not,” so that if you use “whether,” you should ask yourself whether you really need “or not” or can get along without it (for simplicity’s sake). That may be an American rule, like the which / that distinction.

      • Ah ha…..only just noticed this comment!

        As I went to school from Feb 1952 to 12 Nov 1964, we obviously see grammar, punctuation and spelling through different eyes.

        Because I have no problem with remembering what I was taught about English, I usually make the mistake of thinking other people must, too.

        I did not go to university but Matthew and Melanie did and I also encouraged their father to do so.. I always had to proof-read all their assignments before they were handed in

        • My ex still brought his assignments to me after I’d left him!

          I’m disgusted at how little importance is placed on the English language in schools, colleges and universitis since the 1970s as so many people haven’t been taught what I consider “the basics”.

          Sorry about the rant.

          I have to confess that I can smile at Richard’s boo-boos but I’m not very tolerant of most people’s basic mistakes. I am talking here about people who were born in English-speaking countries, of course. I’d hate to try to learn English as a second language as it really doesn’t make a lot of sense!

          • at least in the U.S., teachers in schools are dealing with a very different population than they were dealing with before the 1970s, especially in the upper grades. They have different problems, especially non-homogenous populations and larger proportions of non-native speakers of English in urban areas. Pedagogical ttitudes have also changed from a more punitive/normative stance (“you must learn English the way we speak it / you must assimilate”) to a more tolerant attitude toward local cultures. Many of the things that teachers regularly did in earlier periods in order to convey their lessons would no longer be political acceptable. I agree that my mother, whose education ended with high school in 1959, can write better sentences than many / most of my undergraduates, but they generally have much more advanced math skills than my mother did / does. I wish they wrote English better, of course, and I try to help them do so, but “o tempora, o mores” has been a constant attitude since Roman tiems and we’re all still alive. They don’t need to know everything we learned in order to be successful.

            My original post on this topic was about why I think it’s cute if Armitage makes grammatical errors when it would be a severe turnoff if it were any man I met IRL.

            English spelling is a nightmare.

            • but it is still easier to read books, newspaper articles, emails, etc., if the writer has some sense of punctuation and grammar.

              I believe that the onus is on the writer to make him/herself easily understood..especially these days as everyone is “too busy” to waste time trying to interpret what’s been written if it’s at all unclear.

              But, let’s forget all that…it’s not important anyway.

              I sincerely hope you and all your readers are enjoying a pleasant break. I’m currently saturating myself in “Robin Hood” and grinning from ear to ear at Guy’s gorgeousness!

              BTW…Matthew really likes “The Hobbit” trailer. He was going to buy me the audiobooks of LOTR…until he found out just how much they cost!

        • it depends a lot on who teaches you, and who taught them, as well. I spent most of 10th grade diagramming sentences — I think that and reading Tom Sawyer might have been all we did that year — so I have a strong command of U.S. English grammar. But I was taught by a very elderly woman who taught three generations of students in my school district, and who might have gotten her BA shortly after WWII. For her, right and wrong were very clear; and this attitude was very different from the teacher who gave us senior English two years later. The person who taught me German grammar several years later had similar attitudes.

          In the original post I referenced Fowler, who was heavily influential on how British English was written in the twentieth century, and that attitude is more or less the antithesis of the way I was taught English grammar. (For American readers, the US equivalent is probably Strunk and White, whom I didn’t encounter as a style model until I got to college.) Fowler said, for instance, that since the difference in meaning between which and that was negligible the distinction didn’t matter in writing. We probably spent a month on that issue alone. Similarly, Fowler was very relaxed on whether an adverb could be used to interrupt a verbal phrase — something that was a very strict no no when I was learning. In other words, I learned a very prescriptive grammar style that was not standard anymore, even when I was learning it. But it turned out to be very useful when I finally got to college and had to start learning foreign language. We were taught in school to use as few words as possible but exactly the ones we needed, and also to insist on strong coordination between phrases and especially between the subordinating and main clauses of a sentence. This latter rule is something that’s regularly transgressed in every British newspaper.

  12. Servetus, Tell me “whether” was a gimme. 😆

  13. *giggling in such a fashion sister and BIL think I’ve been into the wine and/or took too many pain meds and muscle relaxers*
    Seriously, I love these spoofs and I bet Richard would love to read them.

    When I saw the “enjoy the typos” comment I wanted to pinch those sweet cheeks of his, the naughty fellow.

  14. Since I frequently commit the same crimes as Mr. Armitage I am always very forgiving of his grammatical and other sins.


    • I agree. I make some of the same errors and if an error isn’t too blatant I really don’t even care. However, I will say that he writes better than most of the stuff out there on the internet.

      • I hope no one thinks I’m looking down my nose. I’ve had to write university papers in two languages not my own, and then German changed the spelling rules in the middle of the time I was there. Really, no one has more sympathy than I with the “challenged” stylist.

        That said, he writes at about 82 the way I have been grading this semester, i.e., this number of errors would definitely cause a grading penalty if they were repeated after the first paper. Thankfully for him he’s an actor and not a history undergraduate 🙂

        • I thought it was a very funny post and knew it was done in jest. After all, an 82 isn’t bad 🙂 Sorry if that was an unnecessary comma, I love to use commas. I’d rather have too many than not enough. I hope I’m not taking too many commas away from another language…

          • The average in my classes right now is about 76, so you’re right, 82 isn’t bad.

            You need that comma, it sets off a subordinate clause.

            • And note that in the last sentence above I joined two independent clauses with a comma; that should be a semi-colon!

        • I apologize for the Rechtsschreibreform. To me it means now I can write whatever I like and claim it is either the old or the new spelling (or at least hope, people think that!). I have always struggled with orthography, not sure if I am slightly dyslectic or just lazy, and always though it is overrated as long as I manage to get my point across, and I usually did.

          • it’s okay, after so many years, I’m over it 🙂 And I’m grateful that as an American, I can always count on Narrenfreiheit when I am writing German, which I wouldn’t have had I actually had a German school education 🙂

            • That may depend on your profession. With other professions, including mine, people are happy if they can decipher your words at all.

            • Don’t worry, Servetus. You are in good company with every mistake in German. I can’t read a newspaper article without finding at least 1 (when they are really good) and normally about 3 mistakes, which are not even covered by either old or new spelling. They are just ordinary mistakes. But I would even be quite generous with the journalists, if they would not deform the content into unrecognizable misinformation. That really annoyes me.

  15. This really is a brilliant piece Servetus….I wish you would send it to Richard! I truly believe he will get a kick out of this.

    I cannot stop laughing.

  16. I’m sorry, Musa/Fabo, if I’ve offended you……I was kidding…really!

    I’m the last person to feel she has any right to criticize anyone else….I reckon I make more typos than anyone else in my rush to comment!

    😉 😉

    • Hi kathryngaul 🙂 You didn’t offend me at all. Though it is true I do commit the same grammatical crimes as RA, I was actually only kidding too and only trying to abide by his admonition to be forgiving 🙂 🙂

      • I thought about that, too. Although I was a very forgiving person for the last two days IRL, so I hope that my alter ego the blogger may be allowed a bit of lovable snark.

        I love that he said that, BTW.

  17. I have the same problem with typos….I always feel a little sheepish after posting something that I have re-read and yet had not caught the mistake. NIce to know I am in good company.LOL

  18. I wish I could think of some witty and appropriate response to this, but *sigh* I just can’t. Great piece of writing.

  19. ¡Snorkeling with laughter!

  20. Thank you for another great post, Servetus! I can’t stop laughing at your extremely insightful and detailed analysis of dear Richard’s lovely Christmas message. I must admit that when I read the message, I was secretly hoping for one of your brilliant spoofs, I always enjoy them so much!!
    Our ‘dear middle-aged man’ is still a cheeky boy after all and I can only love him more for that!!

    • yeah, since i learned how to annotate jpegs, something evil has taken hold of me. Thanks for the compliments.

      I figure he wouldn’t have said “Enjoy the typos!” if he weren’t ready for a bit of ribbing.

  21. This was great. I hope things are going well for you!

    • Thanks. Christmas is over, for which we give thanks. I was always grateful to have another day of it in Germany, but never in the U.S. Hope you are well, too.

  22. “Enjoy the typos” is a seasonal family greeting! I’m still laughing over that one! And now I am overly conscious of my use of exclamation points. Great end to a depressing Xmas, thanks for brightening my day, Serv. Wait, did I use commas inappropriately in that last sentence?

    • Don’t you have special things you say in your family at certain times? I loved imagining the senior Armitages as grammatical cranks. I’m sure they’re very normal English people who celebrate Xmas however it is that normal English people do.

      But yes, I was hoping to raise awareness of the growing problem with comma misuse in American English. If we’re not careful, we’re going to have a comma shortage on our hands, especially as so much of the native supply has been diverted to the production of punctuational ethanol.

      • I remember reading a newspaper column once. The writer was educated in journalism (obviously) and relayed a story about one of her professors. This particular professor had a rule – only three exclamation points could be used throughout a writer’s entire career, and one of them had to be reserved for the second coming of Christ.

        Perhaps this rule should be modified for the comma? I’m a firm believer in the necessity of punctuational ethanol.

        • I love the “reserve one exclamation mark” for the 2nd coming. That is excellent!

          The nice thing about burning punctuation to power cars is that no one has to go into a mine to dig it out 🙂

          • I’m all about preserving the environment.

            • Well, and think of all the miners’ lives that will be spared. Although it’s unclear how CNN will replace its round-the-clock coverage of trapped miners. I imagine CNN has a pro-coal, anti-punctuational ethanol lobbyist somewhere in DC to take care of this problem.

  23. Hi Serv,
    Thanks for a fun tongue in cheek essay.

    However RA’s message typing problems seems akin to my typing problems–sticking keys on my computer. And it’s not because I spilled anything on the keyboard–as one quarter suggested. Ha! Besides, I need a 64 bit computer so I can try out some of Bccmee’s tutorials. Anyway, that’s my excuse for laptop shopping.

    So, I suggest that Richard and I go laptop shopping together. It could be fun! And no Richard, I wasn’t referring to your characters’ penchant for having women sit on their laps. You were really “taking it for the team” in those scenes. And Richard is tall enough to see over the aisles so we know where we’re going in the store. And myself? I’m short and scrappy. So I can fend off an lingering LOTR fanboyz who still don’t think Thorin’s beard is long enough. Or I could just pull a Bombur and sit on any would be LOTR Fanboyz trying to talk to RA. Oh no. That would involve me sitting on someone else’s lap. I don’t think my hubby will allow it. Ha!

    But semi seriously, I’ve been collecting typos I’ve read online for a while now for a blog essay on “Tiepoes”. I used to teach years ago and some of what the students turned in on their papers were priceless! The girls in AW Chat asked me if they would be able to read my essay if it is all about “tiepoes”. I answered, maybe. Ha! But now with RA’s Holiday message, I’m sure to add a few of his typos in there just for panache.

    Holiday Cheers! Grati

    • yeah, I thought myself that it’s ironic that I find it so annoying in IRL and so charming when Richard Armitage does it. I’m sure everyone will appreciate your essay!

  24. I’m partial to semi-colons; And beginning sentences with “And”. And typos. And omitting the verb…

    Hippopotami? Hippopotamuses? Hippopotamae?

  25. Totally Off Topic but……The Packers and Jordie ROCKED tonight!! Congrads!

    • Thanks — that was why I was away so long, had to watch THE GAME against Da Bears. Not a very impressive defense against the pass, but I’ll take it.

      @Rob, if you’re reading: I’m impressed about the way the Bears went down. No quarter given, even at the end, and Josh McCown did a great job in a bad situation.

      • I am a bit delayed too much work crap, can’t wait for the holidays to be over. Be xtra nice to your servers, you have no idea the crap they take!!. As you know, I am more of a baseball girl, but those darn Bears! I was so bad, that hubs downloaded the Downton Abbey Xmas special and turned OFF the game to watch it with me. That’s how bad it was. Real bad. English period drama trumped Bears game. Hubs loves football watches the Bears and the KC chiefs.

        OMG ladies — Mr Armitage READS this stuff!!! Good grief! I secretly knew he had too, esp if he’s having a bad day to read about about a bundch of grown women moo about you must be a bit of a boost!

  26. Serv, I am in awe. LOL!!!!!

  27. Hilarious!!! I’m awake early and catching up on blog posts. Yours has just put a big smile on my face. Mustn’t laugh out as I don’t want to wake anybody. Thank you for making my day start with some fun. 🙂

  28. Ditto what’s been said, servetus, a brilliant piece of writing *grin* ! 😀
    My first thought was how much Richard would appreciate it, so I hope somehow it comes to his attention. It would seem what has been discussed in the past has been(I love his sense of humour!) Would you mind if it did?
    Richard’s typos don’t worry me in the least. I find them endearing; much better by far to have an original RA message with typos than a clinical one by his publicist.

  29. You need to meet Lynne Truss and write hilarious radio comedies about ancient Greek philosophers and books about bad grammar with her. You do! You’re a natural!

  30. Love it! I just adore the idea of the Armitage family playing a game of ‘enjoy the typos’ each Christmas. Brilliant! Also had a giggle at your comment about the (lack of) correlation between education and ability to spell & punctuate. Working at a University myself, I know exactly what you mean 🙂

    • I am really resisting being serious as your comment tempts me to wax on about the general state of k-12 public school in the U.S. But I will go back to my corner and spare all of you my thoughts about it. Suffice to say we’re no longer a world leader in education. Far from it. Okay, okay, I’ll stop now. Back to the fun.

    • Thanks for the comment, DazyDog, and welcome to the blog.

  31. […] blogpost which includes among other things the first and only Richard Armitage Chanukah fanvideo: https://meandrichard.wordpress.com.  Hope you enjoy […]

  32. 😀 Who knew that typos could inspire such amusement.

  33. @ Servetus: For a long time I played with that “extra joyous” Xmas present.;)
    Well,he tamed me – so he must take care of me;)

  34. Wonderful Reuters news, Servetus!
    You should start a news agency for RA ;o)
    I need not mention that I would not have the least against assimilation of the comma-rule for independent sentences in English to a lax German one ;o)

    • Sure, I’ll call it the Armitage Misinformation Network. Its purpose will be to facilitate the dissemination of ever more cryptic information about him, until we do nothing all day but interpret the placement of commas.

      I’ve always wanted to research why German decided to allow the joining of independent clauses with commas but English didn’t. I only have general information about the development of Duden, etc. as that’s all a bit outside of my primary time period.

      • I can’t really answer your question regarding the independent sentences, but I think it has something to do with the interconnection between German sentences. They rarely stand for themselves. They normally refer to the previous or following sentence in some way by words like “daher”, “dies…”, “folglich” and innumerable other connections and so the combination of two totally separate bits of information is not such a strange occurrence in German as we continue an idea anyway. We even have words like “dieses” or “jenes” referring back to the last or the topic before the last, so everything is in some way clearly connected and positioned.
        The other solution I would see for your question is that the German writing and rules were largely influenced by the Sütterlin and other writing reforms of that time to ease writing with pens. A comma with a dot would have been seen as a problem, as it would most likely have caused a large and ugly drop of ink. As far as I know, the semicolon got redundant during those reforms.
        I love long sentences (and in my childhood started sentences and ended others – that must have been really annoying for my teachers. Perhaps a semicolon would have helped to get my sentences separate, but my mind was just much faster than my hand. [No semicolon, but …] ;o)
        I always must remind myself to keep my sentences short in English, as my abilities do not go as far as to rebuild the adequate references and connections I would like to get ;o)
        Commas (you don’t have commata?) to your own disposal ;o) ,,, Other mistakes at your own risk ;o)))

        • The German texts I read are mostly 16th c and don’ t have commas at all, just a “/” where the author wants you to take a pause, and a period every few hundred words or so. So your explanation makes a lot of sense. And “jenes” / “dieses” works in German because of gender, whereas it just creates confusion in English (I tell students never to use “that” or “this” as a pronoun). I spend a lot of time trying to explain transition language to writers — good English should also have signposts like “folglich,” “umsomehr,” “dennoch,” “obwohl,” etc., but most writers haven’t mastered it. I wonder if my time in German sources makes me especially conscious of this tendency?

          And no, the plural of “comma” in English is “commas.” No commata. Sadly. I like commata.

      • Hm, Servetus, forgot to apply for access to the news ticker of the AMN ;o) I hope the news will be broadcasted via your blog ;o)

  35. So, it was just me expecting Servetus to give us a learned discourse on the hypothalamus then? 🙂

  36. I am shocked, SHOCKED, that you call these “questionable” uses of the comma and declare you to be a comma snob.

    Some of us prefer to write as if we lived in the 18th century, when commas were used more liberally.

    Some of us believe that the comma needs to be reconstituted as a graceful measure of speech and delineator of ideas within a compound sentence. I, for one, am quite certain from reading the letter that Mr. Armitage is surely one of the heretofore anonymous members of our splinter group, HEY, GIRL, YEAH, IT’S A COMMA, dedicated to infusing commas back into ordinary writing via the public writings of the most delectable of male superstars.

    (And welcome to the would-be satirical journalism club, sweets! It’s irresistible.)

    • And where did that get you? Your 18th c. burnt up those commas like they were fossil fuels! Do you know what the price inflation in comma supply has been over the last two centuries?


      the comma Puritan, who now has your IP address and is going to send the Federal Bureau of Punctuation Investigation to your doorstep

      [Servetus is loving satirical journalism]

      • Take care of her hat too. It needs a period.

        • Noted. 🙂

          You know, with all the emoticons, there’ll be a parenthesis shortage next.

        • My hat sort of looks like an perverted emoticon, doesn’t it? Oh dear, Rosalind Russell is surely turning over in her grave.

          I was going to write a long response as if I came from the peach futures board. May still do this, but my head cold is now clogging me so utterly that I must lie down and do some mouth-breathing for a while.

          You and your Germanic opposition to punctuation. You’re like the Heinz Kruger of the Comma Police. Oh, wait — you probably see that as a compliment, don’t you?

          • well, as Armitage said himself, Heinz Kruger only acted as he did because he loved his country. I want there to plenty of commas left for my children and my children’s children. Whether they need them or not.

            • I maintain that kids today are forgetting how to spread the commas around liberally and need good role models in said activity. Mr. Armitage clearly agrees and truly does have the best interests of the language at heart.

              I’d worry a bit more about eventual scarcity of exclamation points, however, with the way that Twitter machine is working these days.

              • I think that the lobbyist group PUT A MORE EASILY ACCESSIBLE COMMA KEY ON CELLPHONE KEYBOARDS OR RISK NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION is working on encouraging youth to use more commas.

  37. This discussion is great fun, even if some of it is over my head! 😛
    Good to hear servetus is loving satirical journalism, because I look forward to reading more of it here in the future!!

    PS (I love my !!!!’s and ,,,,’s)

    • I think I could have milked this theme for a week. Stuff occurs to me about every 90 minutes or so. I keep waiting for someone else to do a post, though.

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  39. […] A possible struggle with punctuation — and the jokes I made about it right afterwards and a year later). Or smoking (though it means something different to me than it means to most fans.) […]

  40. […] if it’s not dwarves, turkey is bad enough! I liked it better when they stuck to grammar,” one neighbor grumbled. “It’s all fun until someone burns the house […]

  41. […] said that Armitage was moved to tweet when his publicist pointed out to him that Twitter makes unconventional spelling and punctuation look like a style […]

  42. […] years ago,” she told reporters, “I was still dealing with the problem that I was in love with a celebrity who simply could not punctu… So I was […]

  43. […] occasional moments where things were a little too weird for complete comfort on that point — Christmas 2011 was a case in point, although I discouraged recognition or discussion of that. But I could always talk myself out of it […]

  44. […] Enjoying the typos. A fan felt I was condescending to Armitage in this […]

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