Tuesday, January 22, 2008

English 101

Watching the movie "The Heartbreak Kid" this weekend brought to mind a topic that I love to love: grammar -- of the English variety, to be specific. Ben Stiller's wife in the movie broached the topic of living together and used the word "inhabitate" -- which was fortunately met with great resistance from Ben's character and a request that she consult Webster's Dictionary to seek further guidance regarding the correct verb and its proper usage. As I've said in the past -- I'm no English major, journalist, teacher or member of any other profession in which it is my specific duty to correct the misspeak of society; however, as your friend, it is my privilege and pleasure to share with you just a few of the most commonly misused and abused terms to which my sensitive ears have been victims over the years:

-> Intended meaning: To hold a discussion
-> Example(s): "Why are we still conversating about this?"
-> Correct word: Converse
-> Etymology: A word so often misspoken that it was allegedly added to the dictionary (and/or otherwise recognized) by Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English. From Biggie to Beyoncé, this fictitious word has been chanted to a melody and recited by music fans worldwide to ill effect.

-> Intended meaning: Without regard, care or consideration
-> Example(s): "Irregardless, she shouldn't have done that"
-> Correct word: Regardless
-> Etymology: I wish I knew. There is absolutely no excuse for a double-negative in the SAME DAMN WORD. None whatsoever. It's worse than saying "I can't not do this never." What the fuck are you saying? Either you are or you aren't. Both the prefix "ir-" and the suffix "-less" are intended to indicate a lack of something -- whether it be regard, rationale, compassion or anything else human. There is absolutely no sound reason to use both at once. I'd sure like to have a nice conversation with the foolhardy individual who first spread that poisonous, filthy word to the masses so that I might enlighten him/her to the folly of his/her ways.

-> Intended tense(s): Present Progressive, Present, Imperfect, etc
-> Example(s): "Who be doing that?"; "Why you be saying stuff like that?"
-> Correct wording: Usually the correct tense of "do" or whichever verb succeeds "be"
-> Etymology: Pure colloquialism that has far too often rolled off the tongues of those skilled in American slang -- which is often referred to as Ebonics, in what appears to have been intended as a more PC term and/or empowering to African Americans. Honestly, to suggest that slang is unique or specific to blacks probably generated the inverse of whatever emotion was intended or desired here -- good job. As my buddy Music Snob might say -- DO BETTER!

-> Intended meaning: Contraction for "you are"
-> Example(s): "Just call me when your outside."
-> Correct wording: You're.
-> Etymology: As in "you're welcome." Which is what I'll say when you thank me for this later. There are people out there who probably think that nothing is awry in the example that I gave. Naturally, this is an error reserved for writing -- but an utterly complete & comprehensive grammar check is just so far off from reality that we all need to stay on our toes. This atrocity can easily be avoided... if you require assistance, please take a look here for a handy guide. Please also refer to the "their/they're" dilemma.

I'm sure that I've overlooked a plethora of other misnomers and otherwise faulty verbiage (please note that I did not say "verbage"), but I'm hoping that you guys and your lovely commentary will help resolve that issue (i.e., I cracked open the coconut -- now it's time to eat).

I hope that all of my educated brethren will join me in yet another crusade -- this time to bring the everlasting joy that comes with a firm grasp of one's language of birth and to end the seemingly interminable verbal atrocities spewing from the orifices of our fellow Earthlings.

*Only when not intended for use as a possessive pronoun.


Music Snob said...

I would just like to point out that the link to my blog doesn't work.

Do better! :op

Anyway, you left off the "to" versus "too" distinction as well as "then" versus "than." Damn you homonyms! :)

incognegro said...

LOL. All these are horrible. Except for "be". It has its place... kinda. For example:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_American_Vernacular_English#Aspect_marking

It shows habitual activity.

I know, i know. excuses. lol.

incognegro said...

Oops, link doesn't work. http://tinyurl.com/2w52rw

That Girl Jonnie said...

LOL. This sounds like something I would write. But "you sho' is right, tho" LOL...

Not Your Average Male said...

MS -- my sincerest apologies. I neglected to include the http portion of the URL. All is well -- crisis averted... and I love your additions to the list!

Aaron -- why on EARTH is there is wikipedia page for that?! I've never heard of it referred to as such. Something is wrong with us when we want to claim that filth and be proud of it... lol

Jonnie -- you just set off my Cowboys fan alarm! This is where you'd normally win a prize, but I'm a homeowner so I'm broke. You'll just have to settle for rice cakes.

Sean said...

This is the third online word usage rant I've stumbled across TODAY. The first being about 'equivocate' and the second about 'fewer vs. less'. Isn't that just to ironic?! Anyways, I know how your feeling. Nobody knows nothing anymore, literally. It bugs me even farther when the person who I'm talking to thinks they know better then me!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Skeptic said...

Oh boy. Listening to someone speak to me and sodomize the English language in such a fashion is worse than (some would say "then" someone calling me a nigger.

As a note, if words were like math the word irregardless would be the equivalent of multiplying 5 by 2 and then diviving by 2. The prefix "ir" and the suffix "less" cancel each other out.

While we're discussing improper grammar can we touch on how people say light-skinneded and lookeded? I swear I want to piledrive these people.

Additionally, I swear a puppy dies everytime someone ends a sentence with a preposition. "Where are my car keys at?"

Allow me to end this with a not that farfetched conversation excerpt. Feel free to count the grammatical errors:

"Where you at? You still with that dark-skinneded chick who be with Dre n them? She lookeded worst then her friend at the club last night.

Cat said...

"irregardless" is such a common incorrect word that people think they sound intelligent when they use it. I hear it so often. I once used it, quickly caught myself and quickly ran to read a book!

Miz Motormouth said...

Amen! When a man uses "conversate" as part of his pick up line, it's already over.

It's a damn crying shame when recent immigrants to this country speak English better than people who have lived here for generations. We gots to do betta, y'all!

Urban Thought said...

LOL... You hit the nail on the head with this one.

I've caught a few people correcting folk when using the word "converse." One teenage girl walked up on her friend and told her "conversate" is not a word. Just because they added it in the dictionary doesn't make it right.

I couldn't help but smile at her.

Not Your Average Male said...

Urban Thought:

I would've smiled uncontrollably and thanked her endlessly for killing off one branch of the ignorance tree -- too bad there are so many millions of other branches. There is not enough gas or chainsaws for me to do the damage I'd like to do.

Till then, everybody just keep doing your part..

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