Friday, December 20, 2013

Pet Peeves

Perhaps I'm a grammar snob. Or maybe even more broadly, an English snob. But it really bugs me when simple rules of English fall by the wayside. Not esoteric things, but things every native, American born English speaker learned in elementary school. And sadly, the problem is getting worse, not better!

If you regularly search Craigslist, you will see a never ending stream of comic errors. If I see another ad for "Chester Draws" down here in the South, I think I'll scream. Who is Chester and why do we care that he has artistic talent? Has the accent so pervaded the brain that somewhere along the way the knowledge that it was a chest of drawers has been lost? I won't even go into the number of times I've seen something for "sell" or how many people try to "sale" their merchandise.

Another thing that gets me is the wrong use of the apostrophe. I know it can be confusing when you're talking about contractions versus possession (I don't think there's any excuse for people who use it for plural!), but we all had to learn this in grade school. The worst offender is "it's" as opposed to "its". It seems as though people have completely forgotten which is which. "It's" is the contraction for "it is"; "its" denotes ownership. As in, it's not fair for its usage to be wrong!

I don't know why, but the pronunciation (or butchering) of the word "height" gets me more than most spoken errors. Maybe because it's become so ubiquitous that I'm afraid whole generations are growing up not knowing any better. It's pretty clear; width, breadth, depth, length. Those dimensional words all end in "TH". And I don't know why it's an exception, but height ends in a "T". So let's say it, people! Please don't say "heigTH". That would be wrong! Nobody says "weigTH"; think how silly that would sound, and you'll hear how odd the mispronunciation of height is to us sticklers. It should rhyme with "might". Give it a clipped little "T" at the end, just as you would in choir when the music director tells you to use those ending consonants. It may not seem important, but if you say it wrong, think how much harder spelling it correctly will be!

P.S. Please note, I recognize the irony and deep responsibility in writing a post about correct writing! You can bet I double and triple edited to ensure I didn't embarrass myself by committing obvious errors. They certainly come as easily to me as anyone, so if you ever see mistakes in my posts, please feel free to let me know! It may just be a typo, or it may be a habitual grammar faux pas on which I can improve.

1 comment:

  1. :) The wrong use of quotation marks always drives me crazy. They are "not" meant for "emphasis!"

    I've been seeing "wah la" (and many other spellings of it) a lot lately too. It took me quite some time to figure out what that meant. Then it finally dawned on me: voila!

    The grammar on my blog has driven my sister (a writer) crazy at times, but in that casual setting, it feels a lot more personal to write the way I speak.