I’ve always been a bit of a grammar and spelling nerd, but I’ve tried to keep it on a personal level without becoming a snob. I mean, writing and speaking well is important sometimes, but so much of what makes people and cultures interesting is the way they use language. Even if most Americans speak English, we don’t all use it in the same way. And there shouldn’t be any judgement involved in the way people talk.
However, sometimes I just can’t keep a lid on it. When politicians make up words or a coworker says “Me and Leah went to lunch,” I cringe.
The other thing is that certain parts of language tend to evolve “incorrectly.” For instance, I’ve always been kind of a nazi about the word “recur.” Whenever someone says “It’s a reoccurring theme…” it takes everything in me not to jump up and yell “RECURRING! It’s a recurring theme!” But recently, I’ve noticed that the word “reoccurring” is in the Microsoft Word dictionary. If you type it in a Word doc, that damn paperclip won’t say a single thing – it just sits there, blinking at you. I can only assume that the word has been used so many times in speech, it’s become acceptable. Similarly, I saw a credit card ad online a year or two ago that actually used the word “alot” and I almost fell off my chair. (On that note, everyone should go check out this rad cartoon about alots).
And in some cases, I’m totally on board with the evolutionary system. For instance, in What Color is Your Parachute, a book I’m embarrassed to say I read, the author has a section in the preface where he discusses the use of “apparently plural pronouns” such as “they,” “them” and “their” instead of the singular he/she. He gives the example of the sign at the beach that says, “Anyone using this beach after 5 p.m. does so at their own risk.” I think anyone would agree that replacing “their” with “his or her” is just awkward and clunky. He argues that in the history of the English language, there was a time when “they,” “them” and “their” could be used in both singular and plural situations, but that changed, “at a time in English history when agreement in number became more important than agreement as to sexual gender. Today however, our priorities have shifted once again. Now the distinguishing of sexual gender is considered by many to be more important than agreement in number.” I totally agree.
I also think words like “funner” and “fishes” should be allowed to pass. But then who’s to say “irregardless” shouldn’t? (Besides me?)
And I often end sentences with prepositions when it would only make me sound stuck up or ridiculous to change them. As Winston Churchill supposedly said, “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.”
The point of all of this is that I can be a snob sometimes, even though I try hard not to be. And this will be one of those times.
THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
To Whom it May Concern;
1. Pulitzer was a man’s last name. That man pronounced it “PULL-it-sir.”
2. Nuclear refers to the nucleus of an atom. Say it with me, “NOO-klee-er” and “NOO-klee-us.”
3. The thing in your throat is called a larynx. “LAIR-inks.” It has a sibling, the pharynx (“FAIR-inks”) and a cousin named phalanx (“FAY-lanks”). Please note none of these rhyme with “Stevie Nicks.”
Also, Tupac is dead and Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.
That is all.