Saturday, 31 January 2009

Think Thank Thunk

**Disclaimer: this is not directed at any of my readers, or the contents of their blogs, it's just a bloody rant because I'm fed up.**

This is an etymological rant.

Sadly, I am dead serious.

I've been trying to be nice about this, but I've got to get this out of my system. I love blogs. I also love silly, sweet, ridiculous fanfic. I feel like it is the literary equivalent to reality television. Like reality TV, there are some that are wonderfully written (yes, I am implying that 'reality' tv is scripted), and there are others that are ... well ... not.

I ALSO have respect for the English language. I apologize to everyone out there who knows what a misplaced modifier is. And to those who know how to conjugate verbs. However, there seem to be a shocking number of people who have never been taught the grammar rules Mrs. P drilled into my graduating class by the end of eleventh grade. (If Mr. F and Mr. P hadn't scared you into grammatical submission within the first two weeks of ninth grade...) I'll admit it: I went to a freak-brain-farm school. When I first joined facebook, I joined a group called "I went to a public school that might as well have been a private school... bitch."

This is why...

my alma mater... (older than my country, by 23 years)

Our school cheer was equal parts Greek and gibberish. Phi Chi Psi! Kappa Lambda Pi! Ai Protus Protus Ai, L-C-I! Hullaballoo! Hullaballoo, Hullaballoo-ballah... seriously, we yelled that at basketball games. People would have thought we were nuts or snobs or both except that's been our school cheer since the 1930s. And yes, the C-I stand for collegiate institute.

This may have resulted in my being a horrific snob. Sort of. I'd prove why we're not snobs, but the photo is of people who probably don't want me... actually screw it. It's on facebook anyways.

Poutine Derby 2001.
(a prize to whoever can guess which one of these guys is my ex...)

Poutine Derby consisted of a relay, consuming poutine and four 2 litre bottles of pop and spinning around a hockey stick. No joke. It was one of the biggest events of the fall. We may have had no class, but at least we knew how to write.

People who can’t write piss me off.

Not the ones who have no creativity; I can’t hold that against them. The ones who are creative but don’t give a rats ass about grammar, or spelling, or proper conjugation. Or if the word they are using actually exists. *gritting teeeeeeth*

I’m not saying I’m perfect (in fact, I KNOW my grammar is dodgy, so much so that I got my cousin to give me a “dialogue punctuation tutorial” because she’s an ace writer). All I’m saying is that I at least try not to use words that don’t exist. Unless they are nouns denoting non-existent things. Like something magic. Or paranormal. Or mythical. And even then I prefer using existing nouns.

I wish I'd written them down, because some of them are downright unforgivable. They make me cringe. The worst part is that I don't want to comment on people's posts if they include one of those cringe-inducing clauses because my opinion of the entire thing, no matter how interesting an idea or good a plot, is marred by the fact that the author doesn't have a proper grasp of the language.

It just boils my blood when people don’t even use spell check. Or grammar check. IT'S THERE, USE IT!!! Or when they use non-existent past tenses that I knew were wrong by age five. Like tooken. NOT A WORD. It's taken. Or took. I heard a girl my age use this word on the Skytrain tonight. I practically cried laughing. It’s like saying wronger.

I also hate when people don't proof-read their work. I'll be the first to admit that my eyes glaze over sometimes; I count on my readers to correct me on spelling mistakes (usually the mistakes are actual words simply in the wrong tense because I've changed the sentence around or something). The is no excuse for having glaring errors.

I also kind of hate when people when people write alot <-- NOT A WORD!!! it's two words. A and LOT. Do you not see the little red dotted line under the word alot? That means it is WRONG.

Or when people write it's to denote possession. It's is a bloody contraction: it should only be used when it can be replaced by the words it and is. I also hate when people do the opposite, or used them interchangeably, like they are one and the same. Grrrrrr.

Same deal with they're and their and there. They don't mean the same thing. At all.

Or using to when you mean too. The first is a preposition, the second is a synonym of 'as well' or denotes an excess of the word it precedes too much, too often, and too irritating.

What gets me is the sad irony of confusing the words write, right and rite. If you're a writer, please get it right. It makes my eyes bleed when people get it wrong. If you don't know the first thing about grammar, buy a copy of Strunk & White's 'The Elements of Style' - it's 95 pages long and 10$. It is a writer's bible. If you really want to get fancy, buy the 'Chicago Manual of Stlye.' Warning: it's about 80$ or so. Minimum.

Grammar help...

I get that the English language is annoying as all hell - it is one of the messiest languages grammatically because it has Greek, Romance and Germanic roots. But it does not excuse anyone from using the word thunk unless it is being used onomatopoeiacally (I am well aware that spell check does not recognize that word, but mostly I blame that on blogger's rather pathetic vocabulary). My point is that thunk is not a past tense of the word think.

You cannot conjugate the word think like the word drink.
Drink, drank, drunk. Yes.
Think, thank, thunk. NOOOOO!

Maybe I was just spoiled with a half-decent education, but it scares me when people in post-secondary institutions write with the same proficiency as I did when I was eight. In French. Which was my second language. Which has approximately 300 irregular verbs. Which I had to memorize before puberty.

I'm a massive snob, but my snobbery is derived from a desire to prevent an already bastardized language from being subjected to further humiliation at the hands of the international blogging community.


KD said...

You forgot your and you're. When people mess that up, it makes me nearly homicidal.

I really liked your ranting about this. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

mer said...

there will be a follow up rant when i make a long list of specific gripes. i expect it will be so bitchy as to be wholeheartedly comical

ali said...

I don't know if you've ever read/looked at the blog "Cake Wrecks," but among other things they have hilarious grammar misspellings that end up on PROFESSIONALY made cakes. It's horrible, but at the same time, hilarious.

I tend to pick on spoken English more than I pick on written English, but I completely understand how you feel...

Susan said...

Oh, you are so right! I even posted a comment on someone's blog asking them to check their spelling. It is so jarring to hit a misspelled word when you are reading. And this person was consistant is misspelling the same word. She even said she was in AP classes. Don't they teach spelling and grammar anymore? I don't like to be bitchy, but I agree with you. Spell check, damn it!

lauren said...

You are SO right. This is why I don't read most fan fiction- I like the plots, but I can't sift through all the terribly constructed sentences, misspelled words, and overuse of ellipses. My high school wasn't as awesome as yours sounds, but at least I learned how to speak and write proper English.

And I'm really curious about which guy is your ex... I'm going with the one on the far right.

Clare said...

Bad grammar drives me crazy. No one will text me because I refuse to use text language. Although, I almost never use commas. Literally when I am handing in a paper for school, I have one copy that I edit just to add commas, nothing else and then I go back and edit everything else. The reason why I don't post on my own blog as often as I would like to is that I feel as though I have to check the post over as many times as possible before hitting publish.

As for your ex, I am going to guess the one in the red (it looks like a maple leaf) hat.

mer said...

@ clare - i text in full sentences. my one (major) grammatical failing is my negligence of capitalization. i like lower case. i don't know why.

comma rules kick my ass. still. and semi-colons. they hate me. i *think* i know how to use them, and then i find out i don't. repeatedly. like the way i always think i can spell lidstrom and never can.

Clare said...

@mer- If you ever see me write something grammatically incorrect, please correct me, the grammar thing drives me insane. Plus as the daughter of a elementary reading/special ed. teacher I strive to make everything perfect, at least grammatically.

Clare said...

That goes for any of you actually.

Lauren said...

I text in full sentences too - even if it means sending multiple messages to get it all out.

I have an uncanny ability to point out typos - one of my favorite things to do as an undergraduate was go through my university newspaper every week and pretty much rip it apart - the editor-in-chief was a good friend of mine and was constantly trying to get me to join the staff as a copy editor. However, in my own work sometimes, I become too familiar with the text and my eyes just roll right over the typos. Then I notice them later and get incredibly irritated with myself when I think about how long the typo was there before I noticed it.

My biggest downfall in writing would have to be citations - in high school, all they taught was MLA. Note: unless you're going to be an English major, you're never going to use MLA. Ever. When I got to college I had to learn APA, but no one ever really taught it to me, so for a while, I sort of made my own little modifications to it whenever I felt like it. Now that I'm in graduate school, that's just not going to cut it anymore and the APA Manual and I have become very good friends.

And I'm with Deets - I think your ex is the one on the far right.

With all the said, feel free to point out any and all grammatical errors you ever notice in my writing.

mer said...

correction: Anthropology, Sociology, and Criminology use MLA for the most part too.

@ Lauren - i actually love your blog because i can read it without screaming or wanting to punch my screen. (in fact, i almost always have the exact opposite reaction :P)

@Susan - i think I read that comment you left: i remember laughing my ass of and being SO thankful that someone else was bothered enough to comment.

re: my ex. so far, no one's got it right.

lauren said...

@Lauren- this Deets thing is kind of adorable, haha.

I'm a staff writer for my college's newspaper and I am of the opinion that you can't correctly edit your own work. As you said, you just go right over the typos. Our old copy editor quit and the new one tends to insert apostrophes where they aren't necessary (the its/it's thing) and it's driving me NUTS. I feel like he's making me look like an idiot. =/

Jessclub7 said...

I don't feel like I can comment with my frankly hideous spelling and grammar!

I will say, however, that where I live people take matters of grammar fairly seriously - to the extent that the '10 items or less' check out in the supermarket is becoming the '10 items or fewer' check out because that is grammatically *more* correct.

I do hate seeing mistakes on published documents etc. The newspaper my housemates and I read is called 'The Guardian' but it is quite widely (as in nationally) referred to as 'The Grauniad' because it is notorious for being riddled with errors!

JK said...

I very nearly went mad trying to copy edit my high school's newspaper. Throughout college I would get random emails from people on the staff asking if I would proof their papers.

I have never been able to text or instant message with shorthand. It just drives me crazy. My little brother is 13 and trying to talk to him online is like reading another language.

JK said...

Also, I am oddly intrigued and horrified at the same time by the Poutine Derby.

mer said...

JK - Poutine Derby was the single biggest gong-show of the year. it was usually in mid-October and often set the tone for the rest of the year... in a sick way, I REALLY miss it.