Pedantic Digressions

No, because that’s not a single novel. But I would definitely say I was reading Dostoevsky while listening to Tchaikovsky, you know, had I been doing so.



If I didn’t already put too fine a point on it, here’s my hangup:

The phrase “to the tune of” is used to recall in the reader’s mind a particular musical melody. As in, ‘she was singing satirical lyrics to the tune of The Star Spangled Banner.’

Let’s assume that most people are generally familiar with the melody of that song.

Now in the case of this BoingBoing lede, if John Denver had only written one famous song, then one could argue that it was obvious which melody is being referred to.

But because John Denver wrote many well-known songs, not just one, it’s not appropriate to use the phrase ‘to the tune of’ in conjunction with ‘John Denver.’ It’s simply not obvious which tune is they’re talking about.

Either of these alternatives would be correct:

In his latest IG post Mark Zuckerberg rides a waterski waving an American flag to the tune of ‘Country Roads’


In his latest IG post Mark Zuckerberg rides a waterski waving an American flag to the music of John Denver

Hope this makes my point clear.

Really, then, I guess your complaint would be with the word the. It should be to a tune of John Denver. :thinking:


That would also work! :slight_smile:

When off is a preposition, the phrase off of could almost always be shortened to just off. The unnecessary of is common in informal speech and writing, though, and using it is never a serious usage error. But writers who value concision can avoid it.

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Agreed - especially when the form ‘off of’ is used to mean ‘on’! Boy does that grind my gears. If people using it that way were forced to remove the ‘of’ perhaps they’d see how dumb it is to use ‘off of’ to mean ‘on’.