I suppose that people like me who insist on correcting everyone’s grammar are gradually dying out (to the great relief of many, I guess). But while we are still present on this planet, count on it–we are going to irritate the living crap out of the perpetrators of the ever-increasing abuse and misuse of grammar. Oh, and mispronunciation. Also spelling (please note: Spell Check is not your friend.).
My three Oscar nominations for word abuse in the first degree are these:
The Oscar for bad pronunciation goes to: the word “realtor.” (Please note how it is spelled. Using the spelling as a guide, it is correctly pronounced: “REAL-tor,” not, I repeat NOT “ree-lah-tor.”)
The Oscar for bad grammar goes to: this phrase I saw on a sign beside a walking trail: “No dog’s allowed on Friday’s.” (This sort of apostrophe misuse can be easily corrected by saying out loud what it is you want to say. Remember that an apostrophe before the letter “s” signifies possession, that is, “that thing that belongs to the ONE dog, therefore, the dog’s.” Same with Friday. “Friday’s” implies that something belongs to the Friday. If you mean plural Fridays, it is simply “Fridays.” And multiple dogs are dogs.)
The Oscar for bad usage goes to: “So he takes and he goes and he just like leaves.” (AWWWKKK! (What exactly is it that “he” takes? Where is it that “he” goes? And if he “like” leaves, does this mean that the “he” in question does something that approximates leaving, or does he really leave?”)
Seriously, people–check “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White.
Recently a dear friend of mine gave me two buttons that I intend to wear daily (and will probably be buried with):
Button 1 reads: “Grammar: The difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.”
Button 2 reads: “I’m a grammar doctor. Now let’s have a look at that colon!”
I have also seen a great t-shirt that reads: “Let’s eat Grandma.” Under this reads: “Let’s eat, Grandma.” Under this reads: “A comma can save your life.”
In the spirit of this post, I also found the following gems from several notables. Please enjoy!
“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” (Dorothy Parker)
“It is very useful, when one is young, to learn the difference between “literally” and “figuratively.” If something happens literally, it actually happens; if something happens figuratively, it feels like it is happening.
If you are literally jumping for joy, for instance, it means you are leaping in the air because you are very happy. If you are figuratively jumping for joy, it means you are so happy that you could jump for joy, but are saving your energy for other matters.” (Lemony Snicket)
“A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one.” (Baltasar Gracian)
“What really alarms me about President Bush’s ‘War on Terrorism’ is the grammar. How do you wage war on an abstract noun? How is ‘Terrorism’ going to surrender? It’s well known, in philological circles, that it’s very hard for abstract nouns to surrender.” (Terry Jones)
“A man’s grammar, like Caesar’s wife, should not only be pure, but above suspicion of impurity.” (Edgar Allen Poe)
“It’s hard to take someone seriously when they leave you a note saying, ‘Your ugly.’ My ugly what? The idiot didn’t even know the difference between your and you’re.” (Cara Lynn Shultz)
“The rule is: don’t use commas like a stupid person. I mean it.” (Lynne Truss)
“And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before–and thus was the Empire forged.” (Douglas Adams)
“This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as non-traditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank.” (Christopher Moore)
“If you can spell “Nietzsche” without Google, you deserve a cookie.” (Lauren Leto)
“Ill-fitting grammar are like ill-fitting shoes. You can get used to it for a bit, but then one day your toes fall off and you can’t walk to the bathroom.” (Jasper Fforde)
“This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.” (Winston S. Churchill)
“People who cannot distinguish between good and bad language, or who regard the distinction as unimportant, are unlikely to think carefully about anything else.” (B. R. Myers)
“What the semicolon’s anxious supporters fret about is the tendency of contemporary writers to use a dash instead of a semicolon and thus precipitate the end of the world. Are they being alarmist?” (Lynne Truss)