The Death of the English Language

A friend of mine sent me the article below.   As a stickler for proper grammar, I really related to it.  To me, good grammar is up there with brushing one’s teeth.  In fact, next to sense of humor, it’s one of the things that I find really sexy in a guy.  If he can form a perfect sentence on paper, he’s got me.

Texting and blogging have brought a whole new language into the picture.  I’m not opposed to using shortcuts like WTF or BFF, as long as they are used in the correct format.  For instance, “WTF are you doing with that bird on your head?”

My personal pet peeve is the misused ellipsis.  Ellipses should be used to either show omission of a word, or as a pregnant pause in a sentence.  They are not to be used to replace periods in between a chain of unrelated thoughts.  Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to write:  “I went to the store…bought some cookies…now I’m going to go home and watch Glee.”

I also cringe at the misuse of I, me and myself.  This has become more prevalent with the posting of photos on Facebook.  Before you caption a photo of yourself on Facebook, please refer to this online blog.  It explains the rule perfectly.

It’s amazing that most of us Americans know only one language: the English language.  Yet we – for the most part as a group – have not mastered it.  Today I urge you to Google a grammar rule.  Whether it’s “colon vs. semicolon,” “I vs. myself vs. me,” or “quotation marks and commas,” (which I actually cited to make sure that this sentence was properly structured).

Good grammar is hot.  Chicks dig it.

Oh, and if I’ve made any grammatical or punctuation errors in this blog post, please accept my apology.

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Goodbye, cruel words: English. It’s dead to me.

By Gene Weingarten,
Pulitzer-prize-winning author

The English language, which arose from humble Anglo-Saxon roots to become the lingua franca of 600 million people worldwide and the dominant lexicon of international discourse, is dead. It succumbed last month at the age of 1,617 after a long illness. It is survived by an ignominiously diminished form of itself.

The end came quietly on Aug. 21 on the letters page of The Washington Post. A reader castigated the newspaper for having written that Sasha Obama was the “youngest” daughter of the president and first lady, rather than their “younger” daughter. In so doing, however, the letter writer called the first couple the “Obama’s.” This, too, was published, constituting an illiterate proofreading of an illiterate criticism of an illiteracy. Moments later, already severely weakened, English died of shame.

The language’s demise took few by surprise. Signs of its failing health had been evident for some time on the pages of America’s daily newspapers, the flexible yet linguistically authoritative forums through which the day-to-day state of the language has traditionally been measured. Beset by the need to cut costs, and influenced by decreased public attention to grammar, punctuation and syntax in an era of unedited blogs and abbreviated instant communication, newspaper publishers have been cutting back on the use of copy editing, sometimes eliminating it entirely.

In the past year alone, as the language lay imperiled, the ironically clueless misspelling “pronounciation” has been seen in the Boston Globe, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Deseret Morning News, Washington Jewish Week and the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times, where it appeared in a correction that apologized for a previous mispronunciation.

On Aug. 6, the very first word of an article in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal was “Alot,” which the newspaper employed to estimate the number of Winston-Salemites who would be vacationing that month.

The Lewiston (Maine) Sun-Journal has written of “spading and neutering.” The Miami Herald reported on someone who “eeks out a living” — alas, not by running an amusement-park haunted house. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star described professional football as a “doggy dog world.” The Vallejo (Calif.) Times-Herald and the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune were the two most recent papers, out of dozens, to report on the treatment of “prostrate cancer.”

Observers say, however, that no development contributed more dramatically to the death of the language than the sudden and startling ubiquity of the vomitous verbal construction “reach out to” as a synonym for “call on the phone,” or “attempt to contact.” A jargony phrase bloated with bogus compassion — once the province only of 12-step programs and sensitivity training seminars — “reach out to” is now commonplace in newspapers. In the last half-year, the New York Times alone has used it more than 20 times in a number of contextually indefensible ways, including to report that the Blagojevich jury had asked the judge a question.

It was not immediately clear to what degree the English language will be mourned, or if it will be mourned at all. In the United States, English has become increasingly irrelevant, particularly among young adults. Once the most popular major at the nation’s leading colleges and universities, it now often trails more pragmatic disciplines, such as economics, politics, government, and, ironically, “communications,” which increasingly involves learning to write mobile-device-friendly ads for products like Cheez Doodles.

Many people interviewed for this obituary appeared unmoved by the news, including Anthony Incognito of Crystal City, a typical man in the street.

“Between you and I,” he said, “I could care less.”

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One Comment Add yours

  1. troubleensued says:

    Oh no! I can’t talk without my hands, and I certainly can’t write without ellipses. It’s almost as though when my brain is pausing, my right ring finger is…well…making an ellipsis with a little mind of its own.

    So I offer this blanket “I beg your pardon,” which I hope will suffice for the rest of my life. And beyond. (I actually plan to have an ellipsis on my tombstone just so people will know that it’s me.)

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