Friday, July 10, 2009

David'Z RantZ: I Have Seen the Future

The incomparable Johnny Carson (left) and "The Amazing Criswell"
(right), someone
else who could have laid claim to being a "silver fox!"
(Don't bother clicking on it. It's only a photo, not an embedded video!)

Welcome to "Foxwell Predicts," or, more appropriately, "RantZwell Predicts." (And if you don't "get" those two references, click here, fellow babies.)

The vast majority of the time, I try to speak properly. And by "properly," I mean grammatically rather than politely. To give only one example, I never say "ain't," unless I'm quoting someone else, or using it in an almost sarcastic manner.

But I'm not overly obsessive about speaking correctly. I'll occasionally use "who" where "whom" is warranted. And if I'm sick, I'll say "I'm not feeling good" rather than "I'm not feeling well." (Of course, to my twisted way of thinking, "feeling good" means being healthy, and "feeling well" means that my date for the evening will be speaking very highly of me the next time she gossips with her friends.)

As a writer, I heartily support artistic license. After all, who the hell would want to hear Janis Joplin singing "Bobby McGee and I?"

Just don't get me started on "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," okay?

The English language is a so-called "living" language, and as such, it's constantly changing. I can accept that, even when these changes are made without my being consulted beforehand (which strikes me as being just plain rude).

I don't mind changes prompted by the language's natural evolution.

What I mind are inconsistent changes, and -- even worse, much worse -- changes brought about because people are too apathetic about doing things right.

Ummm... I mean, doing things correctly.

Due to this aforementioned apathy, I predict that in five to ten years -- maybe more, maybe less -- we'll find that the following changes have overtaken our "mother tongue" (Well, those whose mothers speak English, that is!):

1. If you want to make a singular word into a plural word, you'll add an apostrophe, and then an "S." Thus, the plural form of, for example, "egg" will no longer be "eggs." It'll be "egg's." And don't tell me you haven't noticed that half the population's doing that already!

2. The spelling of the following words -- but not their meanings -- will become interchangeable: accept & except, than & then, affect & effect, waist & waste, breath & breathe, who's & whose, clothes & cloths, and where & were.

3. The possessive pronoun, "its," will be permanently replaced by "it's." At least this makes some sense, since an apostrophe so often denotes possession ("David's next class," "the farmer's daughter," etc.). On the other hand, I never saw anyone write "hi's" instead of "his." Well... not yet, anyway.

4. "And" will be constantly substituted for the indefinite article "an." However, the reverse will not hold true.

5. The word "lose" -- pronounced "looz" -- will disappear entirely, replaced by "loose," currently pronounced "loos," rhyming with "juice" and "goose." At this point, "loose" will be pronounced as either "looz" or "loos," depending on its ... ummm... use!

I blame a lot of this crap on the single-mindedness of the spell-checkers upon which so many of us rely. (Okay, I'll admit it: I really wanted to write "the spell-checkers so many of us rely on.") I blame the rest on the apathy I keep mentioning.

The most galling part of all this is that when you do point out these kinds of mistakes, the usual response from people is a dismissive "It don't matter."

Yeah, you read that right. I mean... correctly.

"It don't matter."

In response to that, all I can say is "It does matter."

Or should that be, "It do matter?"

Thanks for your time.


  1. Good post. I am pleased that someone finally aired the matter. Split infinitives seem to be common practice now. and what about the use of 'there' instead of 'their?' Reference to modern dictionaries reveals that expletives are now classes are 'the norm' as are abbreviations and malformed words. I suppose it is 'English as she is spoke' at it's best. Ain't that the truth!

  2. nice rant. was there a bryson tribute in there somewhere. love his books...mother tongue included. the de-evolution (sp?) of language back toward the grunt and point marches on...sad.

  3. Great post. With texting and twittering, we're going to amass a great many new and creative spellings.

  4. Some things, like the their/there/they're example of Valerie's will always be just plain wrong. (Listing all of those kinds of mistakes would have resulted in one of my longest posts ever!) But I've seen so many instances where people are unsure and DON'T CARE enough to find out what the correct form is, that I really think some kind-hearted but misguided souls will classify the errors as "alternate spellings" and, as I said, make these words interchangeable.

    People accustomed to emailing and texting tend to use expressions like "I love u 2" in their writing, but hopefully things like that won't influence the language too much. But I cringe when I hear someone actually say something like "lol" in a real conversation.

    BTW, Brian, I'm not familiar with the "Bryson" you mention. Details?

  5. Adding to modern language fiasco, and my remark on 'English as she is spoke,'I believe that radio/television presenters and other example setting people should use their influence and stop saying sekertry, gotta, willya, dontcha.... getting off soapbox NOW ... grins. Bryson is an American author, living in the UK.

  6. I am guilty of so many grammatical errors in my posts. And I DO care. Sometimes, though, I do it on purpose, because of how I want the post to "sound" to those who read it.

    Ya folla?


  7. Megan: Oh, I do that too, constantly... and purposely! That falls under the classification of the "artistic license" I mentioned. Sometimes I do it as counterpoint to the thrust of an argument, sometimes it's too be more conversational, and other times it's just to be quirky.

    And Valerie, although I forgot to mention it earlier, I try to never split an infinitive! Nor, if I can help it, do I ever use a preposition to end a sentence with!

  8. "sometimes it's too be more conversational"

    The "too" (as opposed to the correct "to") was a typo, not a missssspellllling!

  9. I suspect Brian is referring to Bill Bryson.

    My grammar and spelling are pretty bad, and I usually have to go back and read what I've written and fix things so they at least appear, to use your word, "proper".

    But for many of the examples you give the bigger problem might be many folks don't know there is a difference between those similar sounding words.

  10. Nice post and true(could say the same about french,lol)

    Yeah..hum..I would like to hear Janis singing "Bobby McGee and I",lol!

    It "ain't" bad at all baby!lol

  11. Ishat hides, looks out behind the coach.

    You know I write that stuff when I am half asleep, and almost fully asleep when I run the spell checker.

    ; }

  12. What a relief to read your post! It's so comforting to know I'm not alone in some things. I worry that I'll get to the point of giving up caring because no-one else gives a toss. Thank you for your rant!

  13. David,
    your such a good wrighter.

  14. Shrek: Thanks for the link on Bill Bryson. Definitely worth checking his stuff out, in the future. As far as your saying "My grammar and spelling are pretty bad, and I usually have to go back... and fix things..." the fact that you have the presence of mind to know that you're not "perfect" -- and who of us is? -- automatically removes you from the list of those I was referring to. (See? Prepositional ending! I'm not perfect, either!) My little rant was aimed at people who don't know the difference AND wouldn't care even if things were pointed out to them, because "It don't matter." So I was implying, tongue-in-cheek, that so many people use incorrect words or expressions that far too many of us are developing an "either/or" attitude... again, because in the long run, "it don't matter."

    And Cousin Saul? Pardon the correction, but that's "good wrightor."

  15. Maybe this would be a good time to add that I don't get too "nit-picky" when reading blogs. Most people blog stream-of-consciousness style -- not like myself, who can take hours to write & proofread a post -- and a typo or omitted word is bound to slip through the cracks. It's about a step above emails. If I see an email containing a word like "tsop," I just assume the person meant to write "stop" but was typing too quickly, and didn't see the error before hitting "send."

    I believe my comments have now exceeded the length of my original post.


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