Sunday, January 23, 2011

The apparent minefield of the English Language

You can call me a pedant, a stickler, an annoyingly anally retentive cow, but what the hell is going on with the use of the English language today?
I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and am prone to using the odd abbreviation and slang term, but I draw the line at the blatant misspelling and misuse of English that seems so prevalent today.
I'm a great lover of Facebook, which any one of my friends will tell fact, most of them probably think I need rehab to wean me off it, but that's another story. But I do believe that the increased use of mobile phones, emails, the Internet and social networking has led to what seems to be the majority of people forgetting the basic principles of the language they learnt at school, one of which I've just broken by beginning this sentence with a 'but'! The publication of books such as "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" and "Accommodating Broccoli in the Cemetery" serve to suggest I'm not the only person annoyed by this recent trend.

We all did English at school, we didn't have any choice. Granted it's 13 years since I sat my GCSE's and I've no doubt that the way English is taught has changed, but I don't see it changing to omit the teaching of basic spelling, grammar and the correct placement of apostrophes.

You, Your, You're/There, They're, Their/Who's Whose/It's Its/We're Were, etc:

The misuse of these will never ever fail to annoy me. All of these have totally different meanings and it totally changes the sense of a sentence when they're used incorrectly. Am I being too flippant to expect people to know the correct one to use in a sentence? I don't think it's that difficult. One of the main principles I remember about apostrophes was that they're used to join words together and signify missing letters. So 'you are' becomes 'you're', 'they are' becomes 'they're', so on and so forth.
Now read back through that paragraph and replace the right words with the wrong ones, and see how much sense it makes. Yes, OK, so you'd still be able to fathom what I was talking about, but it wouldn't flow right would it?

'Could of' vs 'Could have':

Where on earth has this abomination come from?! I've noticed this more and more over the last year or so and it drives me mental every time I see it. I admit that in spoken context, the '-ve' part of 'would've', 'could've' and 'should've' can sound like 'of', but it's not. It never was, it never will be. 'Could of' just doesn't make any sense!
'I could of had a drink but I didn't'; come again? Is that 'of' supposed to be a possession? Stop using it now, please, for the love of god and for the sake of my own sanity.

Gawjuss and other violations of spelling:

Honestly? I mean come on, you can cannot be seriously spelling 'gorgeous' in that way. Can you? Apparently you are, and you really need to be thankful that I'm not anywhere near you to give you a slap for it.
There are far far far too many of these horrific misspellings for me to list them here, but I'm going to highlight a few of my favourites:

'I shunt of done that': Two for one there! So, please tell me what you shouldn't have done....I'm dying to know

I carnt see what you mean". Well, that makes two of us because I can't see what you mean either, given that the second word in that statement isn't a word.

'Happy dayz' (or any other replacement of 's' with 'z'. It doesn't look cool, it's just idiotic.

"Will you come to town wiv me". Will I do what now? I'll go into town with you yes, if that's what you meant.

'Am neva eva doin that agn, eva" I'm actually slightly lost for words here. I have to read it out loud to myself for it to make sense. (I pinched this from a Facebook status so someone genuinely used this as a 'legitimate' sentence.)

"off shoppin wi me boi, feel ruff tho". Right then, I think there's shopping involved there somewhere, but I'm not sure what the rest of it means. (I pinched this from Facebook too)

I could go on, but I think you get the gist of my meaning!

Question marks at the end of non questions:

I think this may be linked to the horribly American trend of raising the voice slightly at the end of a sentence to make everything sound like a question when 90% of the time it's not. It doesn't seem to be as common as some other violations, but it still crops up every now and then.
"Not doing much, just off into town?" Are you asking me whether you're going into town? Because to be honest I don't know what you're doing, it's your life and your actions

And last but not, lmao, omg, etc etc:

Before I start on this little rant, I must add that I use 'WTF?'. Call me a hypocrite, but there you go. I love the expression of 'What the fuck?' and given firewalls and language sensors on work email servers, it sometimes serves my purpose to use 'WTF?' instead of the full sentence.
'lol' is a real pet hate of mine, and I don't think I've ever used it once, along with lmao, rofl and omg, and any of the others that float around. I know these have stemmed from chat rooms and I do understand the use of them in a cyber chat space when it's easier to type a few letters rather than three words, but it still riles me. However, I do have to reign in my dislike of these abbreviations given their frequent use by friends on text and Facebook. They don't annoy me as much as the misspelling and grammatical errors I've outlined above, but I'm not their greatest fan by a long shot.

There are a couple of good friends of mine who I've had a debate about this with recently on Facebook and I was pleased to see I wasn't the only pedant in my midst!
I'm sure there are many arguments for people using incorrect grammar; school wasn't their strong point, they don't care a jot what anyone thinks about their spelling and grammar, who cares if it's right or wrong as long as it's readable....I'm sure there are many more.
Maybe it's because I deal with a lot of senior management in my job and clear and precise communication is vital, maybe it's because I did English at university, or maybe it's just because I'm an annoying so and so. Whatever it is, I felt the need to rant and get my annoyances off my chest.

So there you go, I've said my bit, and I'm sure that this piece has a few errors in it I said, I'm not perfect, but I try my best!

Much love,


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