Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Grammar Lessons, the final installment.

Well readers, we've made it. This is the fourth Friday in November. Yesterday, it's likely that every single one of you had FAR too much to eat. I know I did!! In honor of eating too much yesterday, I've decided that today is pet peeve day.

One of my pet peeves is when people speak and they sound like they fell off the grammar bus. I have friends who say a lot of the things listed below. I know they really aren't idiots. But dang it, I just want to tell them, "I love you but you sound like an idiot when you say that." Didn't get that promotion at work? Could be due to a common slip of the tongue. Most people don't even realize they say these things. Don't misunderstand, there's a time & a place for everything. Unfortunately, some folks just can't get the timing right when it comes to these things.

Today's leg of our journey takes us to The Isle of Misfit Words. I can't tell you how many people, near & dear to me, fall victim to several of these little verbal assaults on a regular basis.  I've saved this for last because it's the part of our spoken language that bothers me the most. A lot of it is simply pronunciation. But, sadly a lot of it is because slang words have become so common that they're accepted as "real" words or even appropriate words. I'll also like to include in this some misfit phrases. You know who you are. You're overused, worn out and generally lacking in character. These are the things we get tired of hearing.

Some of these will have shown up in previous Friday Grammar Lessons - but they're deserving of special mention here as well. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is:

Same difference - the only time it's the same difference is when we're talking the same result - such as math - 2-1 is 1 and 3-2 is 1 so it's the same difference. Please folks, quit using "same difference" when commenting on things that have happened.

Mispronunciation (leads to misspelling) - probably due to our tendency to speak quickly, sounds are changed over time, omitted, modified..... In the end, the word becomes a shallow, hollow version of it's former self.

Nother - as in a whole nother thing - it's other - a whole other thing. I don't believe nother is even a recognized word, though we all know that a lot of those kind of spoken words eventually become part of our language. 

Old Timer's Disease, All Timer's Disease, Altz Himer's Disease - if you can't remember that it's Alzheimer's Disease maybe you're suffering from it already. 

Bob-Wire - It's BARBED wire, or barb wire, coming from the fact that there are sharp barbs throughout the length of the wire. I don't think Bob is wrapped around the fence out back, but I'll go check.

Flounder - as in to flounder in the water- well folks, it's actually founder, and a flounder is a fish.

Irregardless - double negative. It's regardless, without regard. The prefix "ir" means not. There is discussion that this word is a combination of irrespective and regardless. But try not to use it, please?

Sherbert - I don't want Bert (or Ernie) in my dessert - the correct spelling, and pronunciation is sherbet as in I BET you'll like orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream swirled together.

Silicone - while your breast may look like a cone if you've had implants, the correct word is silicon as in you got CONNED into thinking you needed those implants. 

Slang expressions - I've no clue how slang actually evolves. But, it's prevalent in every culture. Slang is a way for people to communicate - a sort of sub culture of the main language. Slang has it's place, admittedly. But, that place should not be in daily conversation with say, a parent, employer or in any situation where you want to make a good impression... or be taken seriously - unless it's in conversation with others speaking the same slang.

True that - as in that's true? So... why not just say "that's true" instead of this common slang term? Even worse is when it becomes true dat. Dat? What is "dat" ????  You know you've spent too much time in the ghetto if this is part of your vocabulary.

Oh Snap - uh... what happened? Did you break something? I know these are catchy and initially sound funny. But if you're over the age of 15 this should not be part of your vocabulary.

Burn! - made popular by That 70's Show.... it needs to stay in the 70's. Unless of course you're trying to let me know that the coffee was too hot.

My Bad - your bad hairdo? your bad leg? your bad sweater? your bad what???? Can't you just say, "my mistake" or "oops that's my fault, sorry."

Can't want to - as in I can't or I don't want to? This one baffles me. I don't ever recall being incapable of wanting to do something.

Hillbilly Vernacular - I felt this deserved it's own special section. These are words & phrases that, when used in written or verbal conversation (especially verbal), make you sound less than.... well..... articulate:

Ain't - what word is this anyway? Perhaps a bastardized contraction of the words am not? If so where did the I come from? Maybe it's a freakish mutation of I am not? My brain just rejects this word and I'm physically incapable of uttering it.

I didn't do nothing- ok, so you did something? Another double negative and just plain painful to overhear. Either you did something or you did nothing, which is it?  And even worse? "I ain't seen/done nothin'." Oh good, glad to know that you haven't got a clue IF you did anything but butcher the English language.  If you're going to speak like a three-toothed hillbilly, just be sure you drop the g off of the end of nothing. Nuthin' says hillbilly like that word!

Where you at? Where's he at? PLEASE. First off, never end a sentence in a preposition - AT is a preposition. My car is at the repair shop because the transmission is broken. But please don't ask me, "where your car at?" Second, you're falling into "hillbillyspeak."

I seen you at the store - remind me not to go to the store so you don't seen me there again. 

Git-er-done - what (or whom) exactly is it that needs doing? I know that there's a popular comedian out there that says this a LOT. And that's ok - it's part of his stand-up routine. However, letting it slip into your vocabulary is just, well, yucky, unless you're repeating his jokes.

Acronym Hell - let's face it, cell phones, instant messaging and texting have created a completely new language. A spattering of LOL here and there in a text or email or on Facebook... ok, I get that... but when you can compose an entire letter, or have an entire conversation in acronyms, well you've lost me...Want to see an amazing list of these? Click here.

Tech-Speak - So this is not necessarily a situation of the speaker sounding dumb as it is a situation of the listener feeling like a 5 year old in a calculus class. We've all experienced this - we go to shop for a new gadget. And instead of "dumbing it down" for the consumer, the sales person will rattle off all the "tech-specs" for the device. As a good friend of mine said:

6GB DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM [3 DIMMs] from 4GB
X4 635 quad-core processor [2.9GHz, 2MB L2, up to 4000MHz bus]
512MB ATI Radeon HD 5450 [DVI, HDMI, VGA adapter]
this is the description of just one computer and all I want to know is---

Just spell it correctly already!! How many times have you been out and driven past a restaurant or business that used a funky spelling of a traditional word? For example "Kountry Kitchen." Sure, it's cute. It's catchy. But really? You just couldn't spell country the correct way could you. Just had to mess with a perfectly good word. 

And there's the situation where someone doesn't bother to try to spell spell something correctly - or they simply never learned the correct spelling. When in doubt, look it up - spell check, dictionary, etc. With so many online resources at our fingertips, there's no reason for misspelling a word, or even using it incorrectly.  Unfortunately, things like spell check don't always catch grammar errors - such as the incorrect they're/there/their being used. 

Yes folks, there's a time & place for all of this stuff. The important thing to learn though, is WHEN it's appropriate.  

A git-er-done is all good when you can say WTF and chill with your homies (good God that was painful to type!). However, if a prospective employer were to ask me how I'd improve productivity, telling them, "I got mad props at my last gig and I'll git-er-done for y'all too,"  would likely not land me the job!

Now, go forth and dazzle with your new-found mastery of the English language!

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