Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Channeling My Inner English Teacher

Is anybody else out there as frustrated by the paucity of grammar and punctuation skills displayed in print and on television? Am I just overly obsessive about this?

In 7th grade, Mrs. Bowen gave me a 34 on my second theme. Of the 66 points counted off, 65 of them were because of one mistake, made 13 times at 5 points per. The mistake: on my outline, I put letters where I should have had numbers and numbers where I should have had letters. Truly just one mistake, and in fact it was correct for me to repeat it - once I had started wrong, it would have been silly to change in midstream. Still, I got a 34. On my next theme, I had 5 points taken off for using the wrong sized paper clip.

Did these punishments fit the crimes? I don't know. But I do know that I learned to be careful when writing, and by extension, when speaking. Associates who have worked for me in law firms have learned that I am pretty careful about these things and am not shy about the use of the red pen when reading drafts. Mrs. Bowen would be proud.

So, today I rant. Admittedly, a lot of my television "news" watching is SportsCenter, and maybe Trey Wingo and Scott Van Pelt should not be held to the same standards as Tom Brokaw. But I think the problems I am going to list extend beyond ESPN.

1. The amazing overuse of reflexive pronouns. "This is a problem between himself and myself" is a horrible sentence.

2. The failure to understand when to use the first person objective pronoun. "This is for John and I."

3. The use of the apostrophe to make things plural. "We fix your sprinkler's."

4. The use of plural verbs with the singular word none. "None of the coaches have produced a winner."

I know the list goes on and on. I know I am ranting.

But does anybody care anymore?

Is this just something between myself and I and none of you reader's care about it?


Crystal Robbins said...

I completely agree! And might I add the equally (for me) frustrating scenario of the routinely missing required consonants in various pronunciations? AntARtica, instead of AntarCtica--play the C drumbeat and you clearly feel the root word.
Or conversely, the ADDED sounds that only give more mush/slush to the mouth: QUESH-CHUN for question, instead of honoring the root quest and feeling ques-tchun. When I started teaching 8 years ago I could generally direct my students to listen to NPR for examples of beautifully played consonants; now, sadly, it is hit and miss.

Patrick said...

#3 #3!!!

Number 3 also reminds me of "this" blog too!