March 07, 2006

Grammar lesson

As readers of this blog know, I typically bang out some words on my keyboard and then publish. Proofreading? Spell-checking? These are things with which I'm acquainted and am well-versed in. However, blogging is an escape for me, which means that I spend very little time cleaning up until after the fact. And that cleaning occurs only if I actually notice the problems.

Having said that, let me state that there are many things that people constantly say that make me feel what other people must endure when hearing fingernails on a blackboard. Examples:

1) The overuse of filler words/phrases, especially that annoying bitch "you know". Parenthetical phrase: good. Overuse? Worthy of flogging. Here's a paraphrase of a speech that I heard from senior management recently:

You know, as we proceed along this path, we're likely, you know, to find, you know, obstacles in our way. As these obstacles, you know, appear, we should find ways to, you know, fix them in a way, you know, that prevents them from, you know, happening again.

The speech didn't continue because I threw the offender through the nearest window. Alas, the last was but a blissful daydream.

2) The use of "I" when "me" is correct, especially in prepositional phrases. For instance: "Someone made it for Dan and I" or " They gave it to Sheila and I". Each time I hear such nonsense, my first impulse is to shout "STOP! YOU'RE MAKING MY HEAD HURT!" But I refrain, because smacking them with an aluminum baseball just feels better.

3) Please, please, please, for the love of God, stop saying "I could care less" when you obviously mean "I couldn't care less". Whenever someone uses the first phrasing, I usually say " So you actually do care?" Their response is always, "No, I don't. That's why I said that I could care less." If the idiocy in that statement isn't apparent, I can't help you.

Anyway, it turns out that I'm not the only one with language issues. Excerpt:

When I travel, I don’t need to be treated like Hyacinth Bucket. I want you to understand I speak like you do and that I’ll understand perfectly if you say there’s a kettle in my room. You don’t have to say there are “tea and coffee making facilities”.

And please, can you stop saying “at all” after every question. Can I take your coat at all? Would you care for lunch at all? Or, this week, on a flight back from Scandinavia, “Another beverage for yourself at all, sir?” What’s the matter with saying “Another drink?” And what’s with all the reflexive pronoun abuse? I’ve written about this before but it’s getting worse. Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and the object of a sentence are the same person or thing. Like “I dress myself”. You cannot therefore say “please contact myself”. Because it makes you look like an imbecile.

If you send a letter to a client saying “my team and me look forward to meeting with yourself next Wednesday”, be prepared for some disappointment. Because if I were the client I’d come to your office all right. Then I’d stand on your desk and relieve myself.

I’m not a grammar freak — I can eat, shoot and then take it or leave it — but when someone says “myself” instead of “me” I find it more offensive than if they’d said

“spastic wog”.

Before embarking on a sentence, work out first of all what’s the shortest way of saying it, not the longest. There seems to be a general sense that using more words than is strictly necessary is somehow polite. That’s almost certainly why, on another flight the other day, I was offered some “bread items”.

So. What bugs you?

Posted by: Physics Geek at 01:36 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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