Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Need My Kneaded Biscuits Plain

I've got a beef. It's a nerdy beef, but it's a beef all the same. And I'm going to write about it. Are you prepared? Okay, here we go.

I am occasionally "ashamed" of the fact that I tend to be a prescriptivist when it comes to how the English language is used (chiefly as regards its spelling, actually). Needless to say, my descriptivist friends all but call me a Nazi just because I dislike seeing a phrase such as "a lot" spelled as one word. Look, I understand that language has to be malleable. I don't want English to become a dead language thanks to a bunch of stodgy rules we've forced onto it. Besides, there are so many exceptions to existing English grammar and style "rules" that it would be impossible for me to keep track of them all, much less attempt to lump everything together in one "giant Jell-o mold." (gold star for who knows that reference.)

But I'm sick of apologizing for the fact that I enjoy correct spelling. Is it so hard to add an "L" and a space to the horrific and indolent "alright"? I know that "alright" has its defenders (and has for the last century), some of whom might be among my readers. But in my opinion, "alright" came about because people decided to justify laziness by saying they follow such examples as "all together" and "altogether". That argument holds no water, guys, because the phrase "all together" and the word "altogether" have different meanings! Not so with "all right" and "alright", if you ask me.

And thus is stated one example out of many lovely pet peeves I have acquired throughout my life, my study, and my work. (ooh! the serial comma in that list could spark another writing debate concerning style, but let's not go into that. i'm sticking to spelling nuisances for now.) Some of you may find it hard to believe, but most of the time I do manage to keep quiet when somebody misspells or misuses a common word. Maybe I should keep quiet more often than I do, but I used to be worse. Really. I don't wish to ostracize my friends and family by relentlessly correcting their spelling. (especially since i make mistakes, too.)

To the general universe, though, I beg you. Please stop making me feel ashamed for liking some rules, especially when it comes to spelling. Spelling used to be a strength of mine that I was proud of; now it seems to mark me as stuffy, pretentious, and old-fashioned. I'd like to be happy with my spelling abilities once more. Is there any way we can let me spell "all right" as two words without making me feel like a dinosaur for doing so?

Only an ELang graduate would giggle at this.


"A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the word you first thought of." -Burt Bacharach


Craig & Jami said...

I hate jello. Oh, come on, there's always room for jello.

The Colemans said...

Noah would chuckle at that last one. I still put froot and vegerbles on my shopping lists...I'm sorry I had to put that there. I've decided that you might just go crazy in my occupation where none of my students are very effective at spelling.

Noah said...

I did like the "10 Items or Fewer" sign. However, if you study the evolution of the English language (or any language for that matter,) you will find that the trend is always towards laziness. Like rivers, language will always follow the easiest path. And like politicians, doing so will make it crooked.

Marcene said...

Some spelling errors bother me. My biggest pet peeve is the combo words people invent and use. ex. ginormous

even responding to this post made me a little self-conscience of my spelling and punctuation.

Anonymous said...

Well - it's probly my falt. plus its the falt of txting, cumputors and emale.

just gess who this is from...

tee hee

tom + lisa said...

umm, i can't see the text...

VK said...

Your GGKelly would blame this all on her mother Luella. Apparently she was a stickler for correct verbiage.
My pet peeve du jour is the word "across" being used with an "ed" or a "t" on it's derrière. Drives me nuts.