Editorial Correspondence: Introductory Paragraphs I Cannot Send

[For more on editorial correspondence, go here or here or most definitely here.]

Dear Sir:

Thanks for your email, in which you claim a “smirky blogger” has ruined English by telling you that the rule regarding the use of “that” and “which” is not based on actual usage. I’m the smirky blogger in question (though technically I’m a vlogger) and that’s not a smirk, but a medical condition. Thank you for bringing up such a painful subject; I hope I can be helpful.


Dear Sir:

Thanks for your all-caps email. I must confess I had a hard time following your complaint about the existence of the world “self-abuse” due to the tremendous pile-up of gerunds in your primary paragraph. “Immediately stressing and so much annoying damaging” indeed. This paragraph on masturbation is a form of masturbation in and of itself, and I congratulate you on this subtlety.


Dear Ma’am:

Thanks for your complaint about our app and your request for a free app upgrade as a consolation prize for hating our app so much. Your email was forwarded to me for response, which is a pity, because someone else would have deffers been nicer to you than I am about to be.


Dear Ma’am:

Thanks for your lengthy email about the meaning of the word “agnostic.” It’s an astonishing piece of writing in that it hardly uses any punctuation at all. But its real genius is that it delivers an almost-convincing argument that agnosticism is atheism is pantheism. I mean, wow: well done. Not many self-proclaimed agnostics can go from claiming that agnostics simply cannot know whether any deity at all exists to claiming that agnostics therefore worship no gods and all gods, which are in all things/everywhere. Before I respond to your request to change all the meanings of these words in all dictionaries throughout space and time, let me quote some Monty Python at you: “There’s nothing an agnostic can’t do if he doesn’t know whether he believes in anything or not.”


Dear Sir:

Thanks for your response. I am sorry to hear that the last person you were corresponding with was a crazy, unreasonable asshole, but I am not surprised in the least: the last person you were corresponding with was me. Since we’ve got a dynamic going, I hope you won’t mind if I continue to be crazy and unreasonable.


Dear Sir:

Thanks for your email. I’m impressed that you want to create your own dictionary and have therefore compiled a list of all the science words in our dictionaries. That said, I have to laugh at your suggestion that perhaps we define them for you, since defining is a major waste of your time. I’ll get our top editors on that right away: after all, we live for doing our jobs for no pay, no recognition, and in violation of our in-house ethics code and common sense. Hey, look at that, it’s already done! It’s called the Collegiate Dictionary and you can put your name on it for $155 million dollars.


Dear Student:

Thanks for your complaint that we don’t supply you with enough example sentences so you can complete your vocabulary homework without any effort on your part. Haha, YA BURNT!


Look, Guy:

This is the third time I’ve written back to tell you that we will not remove “spoon” from the dictionary. I don’t know why you keep writing, but I am really enjoying the amped-up hysteria and poutrage in this last email you’ve sent. Do you think you can wear me down by force of will or by repeatedly throwing an e-tantrum? Tant pis, si triste, mon ami: I am a lexicographer. I am impervious, placid, unfeeling as stone, and I care not a whit that I hurt your widdle fee-fees by refusing to comply with what is a patently stupid request. I am happy, however, to go one more round with you because I have nothing better to do, I’m sure.


Dear Richard from Toronto:

There are two ways to write a stranger and express your admiration for their work (in this case, the video series on the M-W site). The first is to focus on the content of the piece, thank the presenter for teaching you something new, and then express hope that we will continue to do such good work. The second is to send a slobbery, grunting note that ignores the content completely and instead praises (if that’s the word I want to use here) that presenter’s hair/eyes/makeup/wardrobe/body in fetishistic detail. Notes written in the first mode get a nice little response. Notes written in the second mode get passed around the office as an example of a) how amazing humanity is in the wrong sort of way, and b) why no one else on the editorial floor wanted to do these videos. But since you sent a love letter that began with an in-depth analysis of how dowdy we were before we fixed our hair, wore better makeup, and donned “more feminine” clothing, I’m going to shame you by name on the Internet! Richard from Toronto, King of the Douchebags, you give troglodytes a bad name. Your note is an affront to good sense, good grammar, and just plain good. As we say where I’m from, I wouldn’t piss on ya if you were on fire. OMG, OMG, look: I noticed you! Why are you butthurt that I noticed you? Isn’t that what you wanted? Why would you write in if you didn’t want me to notice you, YOU TEASE?


Dear Ma’am:

Thanks but no thanks for your email.





Filed under correspondence

37 responses to “Editorial Correspondence: Introductory Paragraphs I Cannot Send

  1. “Spoon” really is a nasty little bugger of a word. Like those low-budget, low-quality skin flicks, it is 80% “poon” (and those two Os look too much like breasts) and therefore should be struck from all dictionaries (and vocabularies) everywhere immediately as being unsafe for children’s eyes and detrimental to the overall moral fiber of society.

    And don’t even get me started on “crampon.”

    • Hank G.

      You really can’t remove spoon without removing fork also. I can’t tell you how many times other drivers say “Fork you” to me while I’m driving 45 mph in the left lane of the interstate. At least it sounds like that; my hearing is not what it used to be.

  2. Will O the Glen

    Reading this made my morning!

  3. Elizabeth Jenike

    This. Is. Perfect.


  5. Hilarious. It’s wonderful that political correctness has not succeeded in smothering all sense of irony and sarcasm.
    It’s the oxygen of our brains, constantly polluted by the verbiage, doublespeak, phony etiquette, and social impositions on the free-soaring spirit of English

  6. So, why does Look, Guy want “spoon” removed from the dictionary? Inquiring minds, &c.

  7. Shouldn’t we swap “crampon” and “tampon”? I mean, think about it.

  8. This must be the *very* best part of your job. Too bad you can’t actually send them. Especially the one to Richard. 🙂

  9. So can you share with us your correspondent’s reasons for wanting to delete the word “spoon”? I literally can’t imagine …

  10. Thank you for sharing these! You just made my day. 🙂

  11. I confess it: many years ago I wrote a light-hearted poem (long since lost and a Good Thing Too) that rhymed “crampon”, “clamp on”, and “tampon”.

    As for troglodytes, there are 30 million people living in caves in China today, some even with electricity and running water, thanks to various Five-Year Plans. Next step, the Cave Internet. The improbably multilingual Cleopatra was said to speak Troglodyte along with Greek, Latin, Egyptian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Ethiopic, and two varieties of Persian, but apparently that’s just an ancient folk etymology: it should have been “Trogodyte”.

  12. CrazyGuyinThailand


  13. Alison

    I have just discovered why I am fat. Every time I cuddle my husband I think of food!

  14. Roy

    Thank you for this…it made an otherwise wasted day much better!

  15. Pingback: Link love | Grumpy rumblings of the (formerly!) untenured

  16. jacqueverse

    Love these responses!

  17. I’ve never seen you in a video. Have only read your top blog. Yet already I love you as much as Richard from Toronto. I’ll fight him. Or maybe just enjoy your blogs instead. Good sentences, amazing writer.

  18. “Thanks but no thanks for your email.” Perfect! Did you ever accidentally send one of these honest responses?

  19. Thank you for your genius.

  20. David F--Brooklyn!

    Being an utterly lazy sod, I wish that your blog had a “like” button so that I could signal my appreciation, devotion, and feelings of awe in a simple click. You have made me type actual words (poor though they may be), but I cannot hold that against you.

  21. Back in the days of ink on paper, I worked with a guy who stamped his nut mail with “There is much in what you say” and sent it back.

    • Paul

      I had a stamp with several choices that had boxes beside them for check-marking. The heading was “May your day be filled with …”
      1. Butterflies.
      2. Flowers
      3. Pig Poop.
      Guess which one collected the most check marks.

  22. Bill

    Your controlled eschewment of homogeneity, dogmatism, and propriety is sumptuous. How richer the world would be with more people like you.

  23. Just discovered your blog and I’m so glad I did. Highly entertaining!

  24. Pingback: Answers I Wish I Could Send: One Week’s Worth | harm·less drudg·ery

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