Now, right off the bat I know will probably make some people mad, and some of you will even try to find spelling errors and grammar mistakes in this and previous posts; but I'm going to do this anyway. Here is my obligatory post about the improper use of the English language, seeing as I am an English major/degree holder.
First, let me talk about pronunciation and correct word usage. There are some things that really drive me crazy when they are pronounced incorrectly. a few key examples include the following:ex-pecially, Feb-you-ary, ec cetera, supos-eb-ly, and many more. (The correct pronunciation, by the way, is es-pecially, Feb-ru-ary, et cetera, and supos-ed-ly.) I don't usually say anything, but I do cringe a little inside when I hear those words pronounced so heinously. But then, as you may well know, I am imperfect and flawed... I'll get to that a little later...
Next is the improper use of words, or making words up for your own use when you can't think of the right word. Some of these I will point out to people when they say them; others aren't worth the fight. First, irregardless is NOT a word. This one, I'm willing to fight. Sure, your spell check may be ok with it, and it can be found in dictionaries these days, but it is NOT a word. Most of the time, you just mean regardless. If you actually know how to use the prefix "ir", then you probably mean irrespective. That's right. Moving on.
Next, lets talk about "random." Those of you that knew me at Utah State will know about this one, and I'm sorry you have to hear about it again. Random does not mean what people who use it more than twice a day think it means. My favorite example (that actually happened) was spoken by a woman on her wedding day. She said to my roommate, "Isn't it so random that I got married today?!!?" (And yes, she said it with a question mark, two exclamation points, and another question mark.) Nothing could be LESS random. She was asked by her boyfriend for her hand in marriage, they talked about it, planned the whole day, and when it came, they got married on that exact day. Things you plan 4 months in advance that happen exactly as scheduled are NOT random. Example two: "It's so random that I saw you today!" No, it isn't. It may be unexpected, but you traveling to your destination, and me traveling to mine, and then our paths happen to cross. This is not a random event. Example three: "I say random stuff all the time!" No, you don't. You say stupid stuff all the time and in the wrong context, but it isn't random. You've thought about it before you say it (or at least your brain has had the necessary chemical reactions to select words from your lexicon, blending them into dialog, and forcing your mouth, tongue, vocal chords, etc. to produce speech), and the words have come out. You may think it's random, but it's actually pretty calculated.
There are a few instances that may seem like "random" works just fine, but it usually doesn't. My good friend Haley came up with the cure to these situations: seemingly random. Take this example: "This random guy just walked into the room, took a book, then left." He really isn't some random guy. The book probably belongs to him and he came back to the room for it when he realized he left it there. But he is unknown to you and you are not familiar with him. He wasn't selected from the sum total of all males by a process which gives him an equal probability of showing up in the room as any other male, but it seems that way to you. His arrival is, therefore, seemingly random. And there you have it. The cure to the misuse of "random" by most of the general public. Bless you, Haley. In spite of how much I have to say about the misuse of the word, I'm usually pretty willing to just let it go. As you can see, it takes a while to explain it's proper use...
I think I've made my general point, but I'd like to point out a few other misuses of the English language. I have a friend (sorry Katey, I have to do it... but I didn't want to use your name, so I've kept it in parentheses so you can keep some degree of anonymity) who says, "It's so nervousing when that happens!" I have another friend who uses "and such" constantly and incorrectly. I ask, "How are you?" He responds, "I'm good and such." He says it just to sound cool intelligent. Can you say, "backfire"?
But I cannot be the judge and jury, or even the grammar police. There are words I say incorrectly and some of them by choice! I will say buh-tato instead of potato, or sa-winch, instead of sand-wich. I'm sure I have others. There are even words I try not to pronounce incorrectly, but often do anyway. Like mou-en instead of mountain. But I do my best to say mountain. And I'm notorious for excessive use of ellipses (the three dots after a sentence... like that). Additionally, I often end phrases with a dangling participle. For shame!
And here is my inner conflict: linguistics says this is all ok. Language evolves like any species, and the strongest (or most used) survive. Even incorrect pronunciations and invented words are ok. According to the linguist, if I say that squidlefin means a goldfish with one black spot on his pectoral fin, and someone else understands me when I say that, it is now a word. Only two people need to understand a word for it to enter the lexicon. It may leave the lexicon in a day or two, but such is the evolution of language.
If you've made it this far, thanks for sticking it out... So which is right? Are there rules we should follow, or does language get to do what it wants, willy nilly? Do you have any pet peeves as far as words, pronunciation, or grammar go? And if you see me in real life, ask me if I got that squiddlfin for a pet, and I'll give you five bucks for reading to the end this excessively long post about words.
books read in 2015
1 year ago