Thursday, May 17, 2012

There Will Be A Quiz

A little horn-tooting and then we’ll get to the meat of this post: has posted yet another “blog” that I wrote; this time it’s about the $2,000,000,000 loss that Chase just took on derivative trading.

Also, we are raising money for “Stump” on indiegogo: Please kick in a few sheckels, if you can.

If you piss off Dr. Bruce Banner, he will get large and green and lay a beatdown on your ass (I dearly love what he does to Loki in “The Avengers”). Me, I’ll just pull out a Bachelor of Science in Education diploma from Universitatis V. Montis (aka University of Vermont technically University of the Green Mountains aka UVM aka Groovy UV, Go Cats, Go) and beat you to death with it (considering the item in question is housed in a soft leather holder, this will take some time).
America, you are losing the ability to communicate written English on even a sixth grade level. I see misspellings, misused words, bad grammar (That’s right: it’s spelled g-r-a-m-m-a-r.  G-r-a-m-m-e-r is Kelsey aka Frasier aka Sideshow Bob aka Hank “Beast” McCoy in “X Men 3”) on Facebook, in email, on news websites like USA Today, CNN and LA Times. I find the websites especially egregious because these are alleged “professionals” and if one is going to get paid to write, one should be able to do it better than a 12 year old. I am still ripshit (yep, my own word) over “Trading Up,” a Candace Bushnell (“Sex and the City” author) book. In it, a fireplace was laid out with a DURACELL log. Really? We’re burning batteries???? Not only did the author punt this one, but her editor and any proofreaders missed it, too. DURAFLAME, Candace; those compressed, fake logs are DURAFLAME logs. You should forfeit your royalties for that one.

“Doesn’t matter,” you say. Uh huh. Yeah, let me put it to you this way: we talk a lot about the 1% and the 99% in this country. The 1% who do the actual work of maintaining and increasing their wealth don’t sound like bored 15 year old girls (“OMG”). Want to work your way into that circle? Want to be taken seriously by them so that you can work your way into that circle? You start by sounding like an educated, reasonably intelligent adult. E.L. Konigsberg, author  of several Newbery Awards (highest honor for a children’s book), once wrote “Sloppy speech patterns indicate sloppy thought patterns.” The same goes for sloppy written communication. I get a lot of comments on my vocabulary (positive comments). I’m not more intelligent than most people; I use more words and phrases than “pissed off”, “awesome”, “he’s/she’s all”, etc. I taught the 1982-1983 crop of seventh graders at Shelburne Middle School Language Arts and those kids could spell, punctuate and use good grammar by the time I got done with them (They broke my wrist in the process, but we got it done).
Let’s get to a few pet peeves:

Lie/Lay.  “I’m gonna go lay down.” WRONG!!!!!! If the critter (which includes you, your family, your friends and any furry little woodland friends of Sleeping Beauty) puts itself horizontal, it LIES down. I lie down, you lie down, Rover lies down. And, if you don’t move, you LIE there (like Sleeping Beauty).   However, if you perform the act of putting an object (or a person/furry woodland creature)  down, you LAY it down. There is a reason the phrase is “get laid.” Someone is going to lay you down and well…

Whose/Who’s: “Whose” is a possessive pronoun. “Whose bomb is this?” when you come across an explosive device and want to know to whom it belongs (see what I did there?) so you can give it to him (and therefore foil his attempt to “make beeg trouble for Moose and Squirrel.” You know, Boris and Natasha never said why they hated Bullwinkle and Rocky so much).  “Who’s” is a contraction of “who is.” “Okay, who’s making bombs around here?” means you have come across an explosive device and would like to know who made it (not necessarily the current owner). The only exception is when one is trying to determine ownership of a Tardis: “Is this Dr. Who’s?”

They’re/there/their: They’re – contraction of “they are.” There – adverb describing a location. Their – possessive pronoun describing something belonging to a group of people that isn’t us (or we. Third parties).  “They’re standing over there with their Tauntons.”

I understand some of the confusion: we’re taught (not were taught. I’m using a contraction of “we are” not the plural past tense of "is") that  an ‘s shows possession, so therefore (we think), if we throw an apostrophe s behind a pronoun, we’re golden. Wrong! Pronouns are bloody-minded little bastards and you just have to learn the words.

Good/Well. Good is an adjective, used to describe nouns. Well is an adverb, used to modify verbs. “I slept good” means you didn’t pay attention in Miss Thatcher’s Language Arts class and she is coming for you. If you INSIST on using “good”, you could say, “My sleep was good,” but then people would think you were a pompous ass for using the passive voice. To be correct, you would say, “I slept well.” Sleep is a verb and you are describing the quality of your action (I know, it’s just sleeping, but it IS a verb). Of course, if you snore, anyone within a 100 yard radius probably already knows how well you slept.

Less/Fewer. I’m seeing that more and more express lanes are getting corrected to “____ items or fewer” instead of “____ items or less.” You use less when you are talking about a smaller portion of a single unit. Less water, less talking. You use “fewer” when you are talking about a smaller number of individual items: fewer zombies than the last outbreak. You can be accurate by talking about less rain or fewer raindrops, but not by talking about less raindrops. See the difference? “Jean Luc Picard has less hair than Captain Kirk” or “Jean Luc Picard has fewer hairs than Captain Kirk” (completely sidestepping  the issue of Shatner’s rug).

Let’s hit some seventh grade spelling that seems to flummox 30 year olds:

Definite. Not an “a” in sight (Please note, I can’t get Spell Check to accept it with an a. This should be your first clue).

Separate. “Pa rates with us” if you need an mnemonic (a means to remember it).

I see those two words screwed up all the time. It seems like a lot of professional communication uses one or both of those words and it makes me weep for the American educational system that adults don’t seem to able to master the spelling of moderately challenging words or homonyms (words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings).

These are not difficult, obscure words or concepts to master. This is not Shakespearian or Victorian English. These are some basics of good English (American or British. Or even Canadian, eh) that have been taking a beating over the past few years (Like the aforementioned Hulk v. Loki; the BEST beatdown on screen since Sam and Ralph in Looney Tunes). Try watching “My Fair Lady” some time. Better yet, because the songs and dances may prove distracting, get hold of “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw (either the Leslie Howard film or the play). Henry Higgins passes off a dirt-poor, lower-class flower seller for a titled English aristocrat by teaching her how to speak proper English.

And actually, the Beast was very well-spoken...

1 comment:

Keep it civil.