By comparison, bingo cards of grammar/usage peeves are surprisingly rare. On Twitter recently I described a Guardian article as “peever’s bingo” because it contained so many timeworn usage peeves, like literally and whom.
Maybe I had this comment by LanguageHat at the back of my mind. In any case, author and ex-copyeditor Scott Huler replied that an actual bingo card of pedantic peeves would be a good idea. So here it is:
[click to enlarge]
I’ve avoided common misspellings and variant pronunciations, but you could easily compile cards based on those, too – or a set of completely different usage peeves.* As for this table, Scott notes ironically that which ones are important is an “obvious question, with the obvious answer: the ones I personally think are important”.
He suggests that someone with the same peeves as you “is obviously a great writer and editor; a couple more than you [is] an admired copy chief”; more than that again means a “frowning, iron-haired” pedant. Conversely, someone with fewer peeves than you:
is a lazy writer who ought to know better; fewer than that and you must be one of those annoying self-conscious usage libertarians; fewer even than that and you’re a barbarian.
Some of the usages on my bingo card are non-standard and generally avoided in formal writing; others are unfairly decried. All are common peeves. For what it’s worth, nothing on the card is a personal peeve. Some I avoid, some I would remove from prose I’m editing, but I think most are unworthy of any irritation.
So the next time you see one of those wearisome lists of “grammar errors” that largely comprise misspellings and misinformation, or when a forum pedant goes on an ill-tempered peeve-rant, cross-check their contents with this handy card, and you’ll at least get some fun out of the experience. Hopefully.
John McIntyre, at You Don’t Say, suggests that you “Print out a card. It has the classics.”
Dawn McIlvain Stahl follows up at Copyediting.com, with a thoughtful post on “[giving] up the peever’s approach to editing”.
There’s further discussion at LanguageHat, who suggests using the card for drinking games…
Jan Freeman at Throw Grammar from the Train wonders how you would play such a game. For the record: mine was meant mostly as a joke for writers and editors, but – as I said in the post – you could play it solo when you come across a list of peeves. Making it a proper bingo game would be more complicated.
* After reading my tweet, @sdostu created another peever’s bingo card. Many of our examples are the same, owing to these peeves’ repeatedly cropping up when grammaticasters grouch about usage.
Usage peeve bingo by Stan Carey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.