Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Exclusively and only at My Sick Mind.

"Exclusively and only at Raymour and Flanigan."
- Kathy Ireland, from a TV ad.

Language and grammar are funny things. I play with them frequently, and I wonder if a lot of it flies over the heads of readers, just as most of my physics classes flew over my head in high school.

The advent of the Internet brought about a new mode of communication. No longer did people merely speak to each other. Now, they write down their thoughts and offer them in the written form more than they did in the 1960s. Phone calls were replaced by text messages, and letters and post cards are replaced by blogs and Facebook updates.

Once blogs became popular, I wondered how former students who couldn't grasp the simple rules of grammar would acclimate to the Worldwide web and make their ideas palatable to those of us who find the rules of grammar akin to the way Christians view The Bible.

We used to have to endure bad speech patterns and pleas of "you know what I mean." Now, the written form has forced us to negotiate a mine field of misused pronouns and possessives that sometimes make us turn our head like a dog who hears a high-pitched noise. We are paying the price for our contemporaries who refused to pay attention in grammar school when the simple rules of grammar were being taught.

We read your when they meant you're. They write there when they mean they're and various spellings of words like definately. It has become the new low standard of communication, and sadly, the glory of spell check does not work with bad grammar. I think the solution lies in not using contractions. Even the dullest among us surely know the difference between you are and your -- don't they? It all seems so simple.

I remember being in grammar school and having Miss Buchanan go over the to, too and two; there, they're and their; your and you're and the lesser relatives were and we're. Some of us got it immediately and pleaded for her to move along. Others viewed it like long division and just never seemed to get it. That's fine, how much could it matter to kids in the 1960s?

Little did we know that a world of text messages, where we abbreviate words that we never learned to spell - and the Internet (capital I), blogs and things like Facebook would come along to further torture those of us who learned the rules. It is like driving the speed limit while the rest of the world whizzes by, completely neglectful of the rules. Either they do not care or never bothered to learn. Either way, we suffer at their ignorance.

But the world continues to spin, and those of us who learned to type feel strangely at home behind the keyboard, while others hunt and peck - victims of their childhood. It's not like we foresaw all this keyboard work. We were told that typing would be a valuable skill, and doing it quickly and accurately would be a boon to our college career. If I only knew that I wouldn't attend college until I was 40, and by that time my research skills would be Internet-based and my typing would be corrected by Microsoft Word's precious spell check feature.

It isn't bad enough that we have masses of people infesting the Internet with their spelling and grammar, we also have professional advertising agencies (and their alleged college-educated copywriters) giving us phrases like the one above. Combine that with gems like "Save up to 40 percent, and more," and I wonder why someone's editor didn't correct it before they gave it to somebody to say out loud.

I can only imagine what we are going to have to endure from the next generation, who has the luxury of abbreviating text messages, 140-character limit Tweets and a forgiving Facebook community to live with. If the 40-something's and their work is any indication, we are headed down grammar's slippery slope.

Oddly, nobody seems to care.


junior alien said...

I think so too: nobody gives a damn.

With "exclusively and only" it's interesting: is it a pleonasm or is it tautologic?
As tautology is a rhetorical figure, "exclusively and only" would have been chosen in order to put more emphasis on that aspect.

In the pleonastic case it would have been the brainless choice - which is more likely.

La La Loggins said...

Believe it or not, people do care. I do. I hate the way people comment on most pages. "WUT WUZ ZAT?" "WWZ "WAY 2 GO!" "w2g!" People don't bother explaining the acronym because they assume EVERYBODY knows what they mean. Well, I'm not yet 30 and I feel left behind too. In a good way. I don't WANT to be a part of this generation of sub-thinking, grammer bashing, gibberish pushers. I refuse to purposely misspell. Those are the people that bug me the most, the Ebonic plague. When we start saying 'dat, instead of, 'that', I worry about what will be in our future. I can't ask if it can get any worse because I'm sure it can... THough I bet my mother would disagree. She is probably the only reason I care about grammar. She takes the time to notify me when I've used "there" instead or they're or their. It is true that in the last ten years, since typing became the ONLY way to write a paper, my editing skills have gone down the crapper. I don't even see the mistakes until someone points them out. Don't be like my mom, tearing apart an email it took four minutes to type and send, but find a happy medium. Care enough to notice. Don't nitpick, because then you might get called Ms. (or Mr.) Dictionary. I know my grammar and spelling could be better, but I think I do ok. I just wanted to let you know there are people out there who don't let their spell/grammar checker do all the work. Some of us still care.

Anthony said...

Thanks. Texting has further ruined spelling and usage. People shorten already shortened words and phrases, as though taking away one letter matters.

I just saw a Facebook comment from a friend that used the word sound'z instead of sounds. What? I corrected it but haven't seen any snarky comments.

I don't care if somebody thinks I'm "Mister Dictionary." There is a right way and a wrong way. I used to hear, "Why am I learning all this math. I'm never going to use it." Now, it's gotten worse because not only can't people do simple math; they can't spell either.

It's a shame.

eternalvow7 said...

I know of a friend who does. He checks on every sentence in uttered or written form. At times, his antics annoy me but his incessant probing improves my grasp at vocabulary and grammar.

Hence, I'm thankful for this post. It reminds me of him.

(I hope I did not get my sentences grammatically wrong this time.)