Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Peevies

In a recent e-mail to my friend, Stuart, I made a reference to a situation being "a tough row to hoe." Stuart wrote back how very pleased he was that I didn't mangle that metaphor with some such like, "a tough road to hoe." Kinda easy to make Stuart happy, isn't it? But--he's right.

His comment brought to mind many of those other little picayunes I am peevish about. And so--with lots of further ado--I am devoting a whole blog post to my own special awards (think fanfare):

The Peevies

Let's start with the most common category: Mispronunciations

The nominees are:
  • fermiliar and phertography Fer cryin' out loud--enunciate!
  • kindygarden--with its half-wit, common law husband liberry
  • pitcher You know, the kind in a lovely, expensive frame.
  • ungyun (that's onion to the rest of us)
  • ankchent (that's ancient to the rest of us)
  • acrosst and bolth People who mispronounce those words deserve to be slapped acrosst bolth cheeks with an ankchent ungyun.
  • prostrate Okay, here comes the evil, catty snob in me. When folks talk about prostrate cancer, I internally ask the question, "Oh, is that the cancer caused by lying face down?" Meow.

And the Mispronunciation Peevie goes to: The X Files!

  • Back in the days when it was unnaturally popular, I refused to watch the show "Beverly Hills, 90210" because the one time I did watch it one of the actors mispronounced a word that was so glaring as to be improbable. The Shannon Daugherty character was delivering an impassioned speech, thanking one and all for I don't know what and don't really care. Saving the most important for last, she finally thanked her beau, " . . . and expecially Dylan."
  • Ewwwww! Wondering to myself why someone on the set didn't clue her in, I realized this was, after all, Shannon Daugherty. If the rumors are true, folks on the set likely didn't want to take the risk involved in cluing Miss Daugherty in to anything less than her hair being on fire. If that.
  • In the same category as (and sharing the award with) expecially is: expresso. And excape. And excargot. Kidding : )

Our next category is: Misuse

The nominees are:

  • there's Am I not understanding something or do people misuse the contraction "there's" all the freaking time? Isn't the contraction "there's" a shorter way of saying "there is"? And . . . doesn't it stand to reason that in a sentence with a plural noun, one would say "there are" not "there is" and, therefore, the use of "there's" would be improper? There's a good chance I missed a memo on that one.
  • This one's for you, Cheek: its/it's "It's" is the contraction of "it is." "Its" (quoting from an on-line dictionary) means: of or relating to it or itself especially as possessor, agent, or object of an action: The dog went to its kennel.
  • That one is easy to mess up. I do it all the time. Sometimes Cheek catches me. And reprimands me. But, just to throw a wrench into the works: Doesn't the kennel belong to the dog and wouldn't it, therefore, really want to have an apostrophe to show possession, "it's kennel" just like if you said, "the dog's kennel"? Just asking . . .

And the Misuse Peevie (because I am the only one who gets a vote and this one bugs the ever livin' stuffin' out of me) goes to:

  • I/me I wish only school children made this blunder. Alas, adults do it all the time. "The chocolate is for Billy and I." Should be Billy and me. I know why this mistake is so common. Youngsters in school are told that it is polite to put 'I' after everyone else in a sentence. Somehow the lesson about when to use 'I' and when to use 'me' gets lost in the shuffle. I always tell my kids to take the other person out of the sentence. You would never say "The chocolate is for I." Know where I learned that? Summer school . . .

Next up: Redundancy Again

The nominees are:

  • 6 a.m. in the morning Not to be confused with 6 a.m. at night.
  • unthaw The act of putting food into the freezer?
  • hot water heater (courtesy of Stuart) Heating the already hot water saves so much time, doesn't it?
  • deja vu all over again This phrase is repetitively redundant unless one is referring to having a deja vu episode of a previously experienced deja vu episode. This condition may require medical attention or it could be submitted to a scriptwriter for motion picture consideration which could be called Groundhog Day. Oh wait--that's already happened. See--right there, deja vu all over again!

But, the hands down, indisputable, ask-no-further-questions winner in the Redundancy Again category:

  • is is You've all heard it. It's everywhere. It's not just Average Joe who uses it. Celebrities, professionals, even teachers commit this sacrilege.
  • The first is becomes part of the subject--nearly glued to its preceding noun: "The problemis . . . "
  • The second is functions as the verb: " . . . is I won't share the chocolate with Billy."
  • So that the sentence becomes, "The problem is, is I won't share the chocolate with Billy."
  • The real problem with people who abuse this hard working little verb is, is . . . Never mind. I was going to be cruel again. And then I was going to attach an unkind President Clinton reference. I'll be be nice.

And finally: The Mongrel Category

  • One of my son's former wrestling coaches, who made a serious study of torturing our language until it screamed out for mercy, used this inbred marriage of a phrase all the time: "I can't thank you more than enough." Naturally, all the parents handled this in a mature fashion. We laughed at him behind his back.
  • all's The ugly, illegitimate, contracted child of all and is.
  • Courtesy of my mother (the woman who passed all her English Snobbery genes on to me) irregardless. Nuff said, right?

At long last, the Peevie for the Mongrel Category goes to:

  • Paula Cole for the unforgivable way in which she held English down, put a straight jacket on it, drugged it up and forced it into a contorted configuration all for the sake of making a rhyme. A really bad rhyme! To wit:
  • Lyrics to Paula Cole's I Don't Want to Wait
    • "So open up your morning light,
    • And say a little prayer for I . . . "

Congrats on your Peevie, Paula. Me's watching you . . .

[Ummmm, yeah. I know. I'm no expert. I can't comma my way out of a paper bag. But this is my rant. No complaints or corrections please : ) ]

14 comments:

CheekierMeSly said...

I love love this! You've tickled Kernan the Grammarian's soul, CountryMouse. Good on ya!

Rick said...

Oh my God! That was along post! I'ts, I mean it's now lunch time. I am so intimidated by you'r I mean your language skills, that I am visibly shakin, I mean shaking? I am extemely confused!

whitenoise said...

Thank Yogi Berra for "deja vu all over again". People, (well, some people, anyway), say it in an attempt to be funny.

I screw up the me/I thing all the time. I blame it on the late-60s/early 70s desire to be linguistically fashionable. (Hey, I was highly impressionable back then.)

As for the rest- well, all's well that ends well. ;-)

Kristin said...

Oh Cheek! I'm so happy you liked this post (consider it an homage to you : ) Its a great thing to have made you smile with it's content ; )

Rick--I hope you read the *whole* blasted thing. There's going to be a test! (and to think, this is the edited version!)

Whitenoise, me/I--none of it matters. Just so long as we all understand, there will be no sharing of the chocolate! : )

Mary said...

Well, it's patently obvious. I shouldn't be allowed within 10 feet of a keyboard. Ever.

I know for a fact that I used "it's" in an email to you yesterday that should have been "its". Not to mention the "recopies" affair.

I'm obviously a hopeless cause.

Well, at least I don't ever say "I could care less". Hey, I have to take small victories whenever I can.

Mary said...

I accidently posted that last comment instead of previewing it. I'm sure it is full of grammar, spelling and typing errors.

I refuse to look.

Well, that's what editors are for, right?

Influencebad said...

I refuse to be intimidated and will continue to use all my favorite grammatical errors freely and without remorse. ^_^ So NYAH NYAH NYAH! ^_^

I love ya, Kristin, you always crack me up!!

whitenoise said...

Chocolate? Actually, I have some airline chocolate here you can have. I'm one of those mutants who never acquired the chocolate-receptor gene. ;-)

Rick said...

Look Kristin, Mary is totally paranoid, she may never be able to comment again! I have seen this many times; it's termed "commentaphobia" "The fear of commenting on anothers blog, for fear of public ridcule and humiliation".

CheekierMeSly said...

Was re-loving me some xkcd this weekend, and re-discovered this one - does this guy get us, or what?

Kristin said...

Hey Cheek : )
I had never seen that one. I think the xkcd guy has a "Roll Call" going on in his head too!

My family scoffs at me for being a language-ist (is that how you'd write it, a la racist, sexist . . . ?) I can find a new family : )

Erin O'Brien said...

Its a cryin shaim wen a riter ov my kalibre gits sumthin rawng liek grammmer.

Erin O'Brien said...

My daughter couldn't wait to go to "ginger garden."

I sorta loved that.

Kristin said...

awwww--ginger garden : ) Sounds like a place every 5 year old and her mother should visit. And have tea. And fancy cookies : )