Let me begin by saying that I have a low tolerance for stupidity, especially when it comes to the English language. This lack of patience with morons can become extremely problematic when I’m anywhere outside the Mustang Daily newsroom.
As a child, I would correct people’s grammar as they were speaking. After interrupting one of my teacher’s aides in such a way, I was taken aside and told to keep those comments to myself. Apparently, I was being rude. Before this little heart-to-heart, I’d never thought of it like that; in my mind I was doing the world a favor. I thought people would like to be informed of these particular rules of grammar, just so they might observe them correctly in the future. At that point, I didn’t look down upon those with less-than-perfect grammar or speak condescendingly to them.
Fast forward 10 years. My attitude has changed, to say the least. After I learned that it wasn’t socially acceptable to correct someone in the middle of a conversation, I was left to fume silently every time I heard someone say “Her and them are going to the movies.” My irritation continued to bottle up until it became full-on rage. Now, my bitterness consumes me when I hear blatant, nonchalant abuse like that, and it’s all I can do to keep from throwing an English book at the offender(s).
The thing that irks me even more than a single idiotic phrase is bad English at the corporate level. (Think advertisements, newspapers, official documents, business signs and sale banners.) It’s one thing to make yourself look stupid in front of two or three people, but to broadcast it to an entire community? You’d think these companies would have had people proofread for them before they stuck a sign reading “banana’s for sale” or “openning soon” above the door.
The state of the English language has gotten so bad that America relies on spell check for every word longer than two syllables. Possessives are completely botched, subject-verb agreement is ignored, and sentences frequently end in prepositions. In the unlikely case that you haven’t seen anyone guilty of these offenses, I’ll provide you with some examples of my favorite indiscretions.
1. “The bone is in it’s mouth.” There shouldn’t be an apostrophe. “It” has no punctuation in the possessive. “It’s” is a contraction meaning “it is.”
2. “There’s donuts on the counter.” Donuts are plural, as in more than one. “There’s,” meaning “there is,” is singular. You do the math.
3. “Where you at?” This one is just horrid, really. When did “Where are you?” turn into this monstrosity?
4. “Me and her liked it.” She and I, people. “She and I.”
5. “That is the most heaviest book.” No. Just . no.
6. “We drunk all the beer.” Drank. Get used to it. Accept it. Embrace it.
Most of us have lived in America our entire lives. We’ve been completely surrounded by the English language for years. We’ve gone through the state educational system and emerged with diplomas at the other end. So why can’t we speak correctly? Was it Elvis’ “All Shook Up” that started this sad phenomenon? Why do people confuse lay and lie, you’re and your, and their, there and they’re?
It shouldn’t be this hard. When fourth-graders can correct your sentences, you shouldn’t shut them up. You should listen, because at that point they’re officially smarter than you are.
Sara Hamilton is a journalism junior and a Mustang Daily staff writer.