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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Some Things Just Make Me Crazy

I was on Google Plus the other day and saw a re-share of a picture by a person whom I follow. The picture was of a sign/poster that, in my opinion, showed ignorance on multiple levels. Across the top, it asked why did the following groups love the Devil. Right away that bothers me, because how do you know who anybody loves if you don't get to know them? And it really bothers me when people sort one another into groups that they then declare are bad in one way or another. The sign goes on to list numerous categories of people who supposedly love the Devil, and that's when the real fun starts. Not only do the categories make me shake my head, but the sign shows that it was created by someone who cannot use their own language. 

People! When a word ends in the letter "s," you are not automatically required to put an apostrophe in front of it! Argh! The person who made this sign didn't know that. They also didn't know how to spell all of the words they used, which didn't surprise me. Quick English lesson: an apostrophe s at the end of a word usually is a sign of possession. That is why it is called a possessive. It can also be a contraction, meaning a letter was left out. A cat's fur may be soft and silky. The cat's following a mouse. Get it? Well the cat who wrote the sign sure didn't. Some of the people who love the Devil, according to this sign, include, and I quote, "atheist's, thieve's, gambler's, wife beater's, Jehovah's Witness's, Mormon's, drunkard's, Catholic's, feminist's, high fallutent sophisticated swine, loud mouthed women, homo's, liberal's, sport's nut's, and fornicator's." And that is just a sampling! 

This started me thinking about some of the other things people say or write that really bug me. Perhaps it is because I was an English major. But I did not major in grammar and syntax, I majored in literature. I just had some really great teachers in Junior High School who broke some things down into very simple, easy-to-understand instructions. One of the best, a woman whose name I regret I can no longer recall, was cool enough to admit her own mistakes with English. She once told us that she had received an embarrassing lesson from her three-year-old daughter. Like many people, she had started using forms of the word "go" instead of the word "say." One day she was playing the animal sounds game with her daughter. You know the one. "What does the dog say?" "Bow-wow." Mom said, "How does the cow go?" Her daughter gave her a funny look and said, "It walks!" She was ashamed that she had been taught by her toddler but resolved to change from that day forward.

Since we are talking about my teacher admitting to her mistakes, here's something else that irks me. Instead of saying we screwed up or that we were (gasp!) wrong, we say, "My bad," or "that's my bad." Note: I am not the grammar/syntax/purity of language police. I will not correct you in a conversation, because I am an occasionally nice person who does not enjoy shaming others. On the other hand, though, if you ask me to proofread something for you I will correct whatever needs to be corrected. I am not sure why the "my bad" thing irritates me so much. I think it may be because when I screw up, I fess up. See? I said fess instead of confess. And ain't is one of my favorites, although I use it carefully to try not to look stupid.

And I would like to say that just because your favorite singer from your favorite group, whom you think is the greatest and smartest person on the planet, says something, that does not mean it is a word! Several years ago the front man of a popular group made a remark that started with, "I think we are all in agreeance..." The word is agreement, Mister Rockstar. I started hearing people saying it in conversation and in professional settings and it was making me crazy. My husband and my good friends know how much I despise this abomination, so they will spring it on me every so often so that they can get a knee-jerk reaction from me, which gives them a good laugh. Oh! Another thing that frays my nerves is the compulsion of reporters to create one name out of two names. As in Bennifer rather that Ben and Jennifer, or TomKat (when the Cruises were still the Cruises), or Brad and Angelina becoming Brangelina. I don't know about all of you, but when Trent and I became a couple, we did not morph into a single personality. Heck, if we had, there'd be nothing to talk about!

If you spent any amount of time with me, you would know that I love the English language on many levels. I find slang to be a rich addition to the language, an ever-changing thing that reflects the times and culture. I freely change words around myself, and usually use these weird variations and pronunciations only in my close circles. Why? Because we are often judged by the words we use and the ways we use them. After all, what did I just do? Something that is perfectly fine with your friends may make you seem less than bright in a business meeting or job interview. Love your language, my friends. Just remember that your words can define you. Are we in agreeance agreement?

p.s. Even if the sign-writer had used the proper plurals, I'd still think he or she was a jerk.