Monday, January 09, 2006

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda. Oliver Sutton.

This is a two-part English rant. You've been warned.

As I traverse through them there internets, I see all manner of linguistic skills. If you know me, you know that I tend to respond negatively when I see a lack of English competency in posts. Not toward those for whom English is a second (or even third or fourth!) language, but towards those who should damn well know better. It is because of that ever-expanding demographic I give you the following: "would of", "could of", "should of", and "all the sudden".

Linguistic lassitude. That's the best way I know to describe this phenomenon. Reading is becoming less of a pastime and more of a chore, so people now tend to spell what they hear. Hukt awn fawniks werkt fer mi! The "of" should be "have" in those first three examples, which is shortened with the contraction "'ve". But because people don't know what a contraction is, we are now living in a world where the word "of" has become a verb. As this is becoming more and more common and more and more people replace "have" with "of", then those who are unsure see the usage and believe it is correct. (See also the "apostrophe s denotes plural" phenomenon.)

"All the sudden" is also a result of linguistic lassitude. Oddly enough, it's the result of lassitude upon lassitude. Why? It's what some people hear when others mumble through "all of a sudden". Spell what you hear, and everything is fine!

I think that my wife believes I'm having some sort of episode whenever I read butchered phrases. I twitch, grunt, or just sigh heavily. I'm truly boggled. It takes the smallest amount of effort to check a word or phrase in this magical world of technology, but the things I see online would look like a Christmas decoration stuck on a word processor with all the red and green lines marking the very wrong things contained within. I saw a blog yesterday from an aspiring young writer. She wanted comments on her work. I didn't know where to begin. Her story was, apparently, about someone who was a teenage drunk. I say "apparently" because I couldn't read the whole thing. One of the problems that sticks in my brain: she misspelled the word "rum". How in the hell can you misspell that? (Answer: rhum.)

Here's my freebie to all you aspiring writers out there: would have, could have, should have, suddenly. If you need someone to proofread for you, just let me know. Just keep in mind that I will make you cry.


stargazer said...

Yep, it's another "episode" :-)

Hannah said...

Ah, another pedant who cares that others massacre the beautiful English language. Sadly, we're a dying breed.

sam said...

Thanks for the warning, Wontar. But I don't believe the bit about making people cry. ;)

Wontar said...

Stargazer (aka Mrs.) - Yep! One of my favorites! It's the one where Timmy falls down the well!

Hannah - When I'm old and grey I'll be sitting on my front porch, yelling at kids and telling them to conjugate. That's my dream, anyway.

Sam - Oh, I've done it more than once. The sound of the printer on my desk at work made some curse, and others weep. More of the former than the latter, though.

Transoptics said...

Hy Their !

Eye wuz wounderin' ifin ewe koulde help me withe an centense eye wuz woikin' on?

Eye will cend it inunder anothur eeee-male four ewe too looke at.

Eye will wate fore you're inputt.

In the meanthyme, eye willbe
injoyin' the whether, witch is quiet warme.

Buy four noow.

Wontar said...

Transoptics (aka Dad) - See, if people ever wonder why I'm such a smartass here's the reason. It's genetic.

Tarragon said...

I find sloppy spelling and bad grammar a complete turn off. I'm a member of an online dating site and I don't even consider contacts who can't be bothered to spell check their profiles.