Thursday, June 28, 2007

Language rant

I don't usually rant about non-bicycling stuff, but this kind of thing really bakes my noodle. What is up with otherwise intelligent people who have no command of their native language?

I know I'm not perfect. I've let a few misspellings, mis-punctuations, run-ons and other grammar blunders slip through the cracks. If I find them on my initial proofread of the post, I'll go back and fix them. Even still, I'm certain there are a few problems here on my own blog.

The occasional linguistic offense is forgivable. I don't mind those.

I'm talking about people who don't understand certain basic rules of the American English language. "Apostrophe S", for example, is to be used to show possession or as a contraction of "is" or "has" added to a word. This isn't rocket, science, folks! Here are some examples of how to use 's in a sentence. The car's paint glistens in the sun. There's an alligator in our swimming pool!

How can one use 's incorrectly? Let me count the ways! Usually, it's a problem of using 's for pluralization. "There are 15 car's in the parking lot." "My wife has pretty eye's." Or in the case of the monthly e-mail at work, I got a list of "July Birthday's" today.

Mis-use of it's and its also drives me nuts. Although "The cat cleans its fur while laying in the sun." (correct) sounds like a possessive, you have to use "its" in this case. "It's" is reserved only for times when you can say "it is" or "it has" in the sentence.

Along the same line as "its", there's the entire topic of homonyms. "Your welcome." "I am to tired." "My kids finally finished there homework." I see stuff like this every day. These monstrosities cause gnashing of teeth and clenching of fists whenever I see them.

Keep in mind that I forgive the occasional typo. I see these errors on signs in businesses, though. I don't think I could ever bring myself to become a patron of a business that can't take enough pride in their own language to get things right.

This is stuff I probably learned in first or second grade. It was bludgeoned into my mind every year thereafter until I graduated from high school. If anyone wonders why I seemed bored in school, it's because for the sake of the many, they had to teach and re-teach us everything we'd ever learned since kindergarten. Somehow, people make it out into the wild lacking comprehension of these simple rules after a decade or more of reinforcement.

If all of the offenders were under-educated, it would be one thing. I'm seeing managers, secretaries, and some of the brightest technical people I know that are just as guilty, though.

I just don't get it. This concludes today's English lesson.


Dan said...

I'm with you!

One of my pet peeves is the incorrect cause and effect mistake.

"If you'd like to have a snack, there are cupcakes on the counter."

What if I don't want a snack? Are the cupcakes still there?

If I can't make up my mind, are they in some unknown state like Schrodinger's cat?

Drives me crazy!

Jamie said...

Oh, you've opened a can of worms here.

The gaffe that rankles me the most is the removal of "to be" from sentences.

For instance: "My bike needs fixed."

Is it really so hard to put in those two little words?

Warren T said...

You're post's our grate,

Apertome said...

I'm glad you wrote this rant, it's sorely needed. Another apostrophe misuse that drives me crazy is when people write CD's or DVD's. They are not possessive.

Oh, and don't even get me started on "me and Bob."

IndustryOutsider said...

Agreed. But you forgot those miscreants that use of in place of have.

As in, "I should of told them all off". Sure, you can pronounce it as a contraction, but you still need to spell it properly.

Gnashing of teeth over.

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