Wednesday, January 24, 2007

able to leap strunk and white in a single bound

I try not to be a super-grammar Johnny. I almost never correct flubbed phrases, whether written or spoken. Firstly, it's not my place to be policing everyone's sentence structure. That's a LOT of work and I am exceedingly lazy. Secondly, I butcher the language often enough. And once you police and then start butchering, all the people you so correctly corrected will come crawling out of the woodwork to rub your face in your use of "our" for "are" (or "are" for "our" - I do these all the time for some reason). Thricely, should I be so presumptuous so as to want to correct someone, the nature of the English language dissuades me. You see, there are 1.5 billion grammatical rules in English. I do take interest in the language and various rules out of general curiosity, but my knowledge is FARRRRR from comprehensive. But for argument's sake, let's say I know most of these grammatical rules. Knowing those rules is all well and good, but that's only half the battle. Do I know the 1.75 billion EXCEPTIONS to those rules - the other half of said battle? Not so much. So you see, as soon as one tries to sound authoritative on the subject, here comes an exception to smack them right across the face.

There is only one thing that I notice consistently and that's the "you/I, you/and" construction. I don't particularly notice, nor care, if someone says, "You and me should go to the store." Sure, it's supposed to be "You and I," but I understand and I'm not super-grammar Johnny, so I won't even blink nor vaporize the speaker with my x-ray vision. I understand that it is the nature of language that that which is used becomes the rule. If no one ever says "whom" for objective "who" then "whom" will cease to exist. Trying to prevent this is like complaining about the weather - soothing but fruitless. Maybe I correct your subjective "me" on the very day society decides that subjective me is acceptable. Who looks stupid then?

Regardless, one "English thing" that does grate me is when a wannabe SGJ uses the subjective case (you and I) when the compound phrase should be taking the objective case. For instance, WSGJ might say, "The car hit you and I." Technically, this should be "you and me," the phrase being acted on by the subject "car" via the "hit" verb. (The easy way to figure it is to remove the "you" and then think of the sentence. "The car hit me," not, "The car hit I.") When I hear this, WSGJ always seems to really put a huge emphasis on the "I" when speaking. "The car hit you and **I**." The implication is, "I'M A SGJ. I KNOW HOW TO SPEAK GOOD ENGLISH. NOTICE HOW I SAID I. I AWESOME!!!!!" It's usually only this type of ignorant ostentation that bothers me. Until today . . . .

Today the cafeteria was selling salmon patties. This is the usual Wednesday breakfast item. I ordered a "sam-men" patty. The woman behind me ordered a "saul-men" patty. It was like a kick in the head. I had heard it before in the same line, but my patience had been steady. Not today. Today, I really wanted to turn and correct her. I wanted to fly high as SGJ and save the language universe. But I did not. Instead I went back to my desk and enjoyed my delicious . . . fishy patty.

Woe is me.

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Blogger May-B said...

I likely would have turned around, punched her straight in the nose with no explanation, and then gone back to eating the fish sandwich. You're a better man.

1:19 AM

Blogger Teacher Lady said...

I think just heard Ky and QoWP's hearts breaking.

10:19 AM

Blogger LynnieC said...

That's funny, cause I was just thinking that Ky is probably crying with excitement over the fact that Roger referenced Strunk and White.

1:27 PM

Blogger Queen of West Procrastination said...

Lynniec's right. I know that I, for one, am a sucker for a Strunk & White reference. E.B. White. How I love thee.

4:05 PM

Blogger Ky said...

I love a good Strunk & White reference.

Well done.

6:35 PM

Blogger roger said...

Well I know what to write about when I want the sweet, sweet comments.

12:34 AM

Blogger Nukie said...

I agree. What does "dissuade" mean?

12:38 PM


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