• Tue, Jul 15 - 4:09 pm ET

Um, There’s A Mistake In Al Yankovic’s Grammar-Themed ‘Blurred Lines’ Parody

Weird Al Yankovic eyebrow raise in GIFI don’t want to be that person or anything, but I just found an error in Weird Al Yankovic‘s parody of ‘Blurred Lines‘ that was released today.

It’s called ‘Word Crimes’, and it’s basically a writer’s wet dream, because it calls out all the little errors that people make on the internet (and everywhere, really), that bother grammar-lovers like myself. You know, everything from misplaced apostrophes to dangling participles to the all-glorious Oxford comma. I enjoyed myself immensely watching it because seriously? A parody of a Robin Thicke song that also calls out common English-language mistakes? This must be heaven.

BUT. There’s a mistake in it! A real life word crime! And I noticed it all by myself, and all the blood rushed to my face because this is it. This is the moment I was born for, when I get to call out an error and not be the worst. (Or maybe I am the worst, but in a video where you claim that people saying they literally can’t get out of bed when what they really mean is that they’re tired makes you literally want to brain them with a crowbar, I think I’m within my rights to briefly pull on my Grammar Police hat.)

Anyway. It comes very near the end of the song, starting at 3:26, in the portion of the song that goes:

Oh you’re a lost cause

Go back to preschool

Get out of the gene pool

Try your best to not drool

 

Did you catch it? I’m guessing probably not, because it’s one of those things like the misuse of the word ‘myriad’ that slips through the cracks a lot. (And chafes me every time.)

Error in Weird Al Yankovic's grammar themed song 'Word Crimes'

It’s the phrase ‘to not drool’, which is something called a split infinitive, where an adverb is placed between the particle ‘to’ and the verb itself, which in this case is the word ‘drool’. It’s become marginally acceptable now because unfortunately, people do it ALL THE TIME (just like omitting the Oxford comma), but the proper way to phrase that thought would be ‘try your best not to drool’.

[Update: in my first version, the phrasing of the above paragraph incorrectly suggested that I wasn't a fan of the Oxford comma. I was suitably offended that anyone could think I was such a barbarian, and that section has been updated for clarity.]

Grammar Police shift ended, hat and matching suspenders removed. #sorrynotsorry, but i c ur misteak and Im not afrade 2 call it *~*~OUT~*~*.

(I am the worst.)

Share This Post:
  • Anshuman

    In a recent interview he said that he put it there on purpose, just to throw people off, which i guess worked

  • InsanePorcupine

    Weird Al got you!! He put that there on purpose so people like you could notice :)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJXX3A_6nbo

  • Joe

    In case you hadn’t noticed yet, Weird Al himself appeared on Fox’s Stuart Varney and stated that he intentionally put the split infinitive in to bug people like you. So, bravo for finding it, and bravo for creating the blog he envisioned.

  • Jes K. Klittum

    If I were “within my rights to briefly pull on my Grammar Police hat”, wouldn’t I myself be splitting an infinitive? To briefly pull….

    I am no native speaker of English, so correct me if I am wrong.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      You’re absolutely right!

  • bz

    Weird Al left the error in the song intentionally. The entire point was to get people to argue about it. He talked about it in an interview about his new album. I’d post the link but I’m on my phone and it is god awful to type with let alone copy and paste a link.

  • Rick Xeros

    Actually, in an interview he said this was intentional. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kJXX3A_6nbo

  • Justin Biggs

    Actually, most modern English grammarians do not regard the split infinitive to be a grammatical error. It’s an impossible construction in Latin, and so a number of classical scholars felt that it shouldn’t be used in English. However, English is not Latin, and has no problem with split infinitive.

    Most grammar manuals will still argue for avoiding a split infinitive in formal writing for two reasons: firstly, many people have been incorrectly taught that it’s an error, and so if they see a split infinitive they perceive it in a negative light, and secondly, a split infinitive can often lead to clumsy style — in particular if the infinitive is split by more than one word.

    For references:

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/split-infinitive?q=split+infinitive

    The wikipedia article also has some interesting information on split infinitives.

    Bill Bryson also covers the topic in one of his books on English use, but I forget which one (it might be Troublesome Words).

  • DJack Klingler III

    Unfortunately, Weird Al put it in on purpose. Don’t believe me? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJXX3A_6nbo

  • Tsx

    He did this because of the previous line. It sounds better that way- it may have been intentional.

  • jwiley

    Weird Al has stated in an interview that he left the split infinitive in the song on purpose. The purpose was just to annoy other grammar nerds.