November 19, 2008

zero tolerance for "this criteria"

"I have only one criteria for putting things into the quarterly, which is that the writing is good. It's not so much about it being academic," declared Lewis Lapham, editor of Lapham's Quarterly, at a reading hosted by the literary journal at the National Arts Club on Monday, Nov. 17." (stumbled over here)
Perhaps you might want to start with using criteria as a plural noun -- because that's what it is. The singular form is criterion, from Greek. The quote above reminds me of that terrible (and terribly self-righteous) book Eats, Shoots & Leaves, about which Louis Menand wrote in the New Yorker:
The first punctuation mistake in “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” (Gotham; $17.50), by Lynne Truss, a British writer, appears in the dedication, where a nonrestrictive clause is not preceded by a comma. It is a wild ride downhill from there.

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