Grammar and usage has been a topic of conversation in my family since I was a lad. I fondly recall having pun wars with Aunt Joyce and Uncle Rudy. And grammar, like any game, has been a robust source of competition between my sister and me.
Now, with this column, it seems everybody wants to get in on the act. Even the in-laws.
Daily Herald motorcycling columnist Ken "Hawkeye" Glassman wrote last weekend about the benefits of Grip-Lock anti-theft devices that immobilize the throttle grip and brake lever so your motorcycle can't be ridden.
Wish I'd thought of that.
My brother-in-law Mike Zucker, who reads his girlfriend's Daily Herald every Sunday, is a Harley-Davidson fanatic. He's a Road Glide man and is constantly mocking his brothers about their lesser H-D models.
Mike was trying out his first pair of glasses last weekend by reading Hawkeye's column when a homophone leapt from the page like a fat rainbow trout.
I'm sure Mike is convinced the new glasses hold magical powers.
Ken's column says the Grip-Locks are easily seen and thwart any "wood-be thieves," Mike pointed out.
I'm not sure if Ken wrote "wood-be," if an editor made the mistake or if "would" got mangled in our spell-check program.
Good catch, Mike.
Full disclosure: Mike's brother's give him just as much grief for having bought an orange bike.
Loyal reader Bob Fox writes: "Dear Grammar Jim, you're better known as a literary giant than as an orator, but how would you respond if I said 'Thank you for your great columns': a. 'Thank YOU'; b. 'No problem'; c. 'You're welcome'? How come no one in the world says, 'You're welcome' any longer?
Bob, even though I recently proclaimed that I am not Miss Manners, I think it's important for the "no problem" crowd to understand how their responses often are perceived.
My father bristles when people respond to his "Thank you" with "No problem."
He said he noticed "No problem" gaining traction a year or two ago. I've seen it for many, many years.
What I find even more troubling is the addition of the Australian affectation, "No worries," which entered the Zeitgeist in the "Crocodile Dundee" days.
In response, my inner dialogue is: "I just thanked you for something; I wasn't concerned about your well-being."
I often get the "No worries" response when I thank the Starbucks person for a green stopper for my wife's coffee. It's one of the easiest tasks to accomplish, so not a cause for concern.
I traditionally offer a "Thank you for reading" when I get emails -- whether complimentary or not -- because your reading of my column is very important to me. Without readers, Grammar Moses doesn't exist.
If you really want to get my dad charged up, wait until he offers you something and instead of saying "No, thank you" say "I'm good."
Thanks for reading ... and writing!
• Jim Baumann is vice president/managing editor of the Daily Herald. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put Grammar Moses in the subject line. You also can friend or follow Jim at facebook.com/baumannjim.