If you write publicly, sooner or later, folks are going to be compelled to “correct” you. They will target your ideologies, your logic, your synax, your style. Yep – I’ve been criticized for my occasional laspe into “folksy” language – but I reckon I’ll keep on writin’ like this whenever I take a notion.
Some folks are also quite fond of attacking one another’s grammar. Now, I’ll admit there are certain grammatical transgressions that I believe will send the offender straight into a flaming eternal inferno. In a handbasket!
Residents in this particular circle of hell will be required to spend the next fifteen infinities searching for additional colors that rhyme with “orange” and “silver.” They will also be required to diagram sentences written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Faulkner, and Gertrude Stein. And the Congressional Record. All this while listening to the Ventures play “Green Onions” over and over and over. And over. Backwards.
But I ain’t no purist. And while I am an above average aficionado of English grammar, I readily admit that there are some grammatical paradigms and conventions that continue to confound me.
Today I was working on a new essay when I suddenly hit a road block. My original phrase was “each of us was.” Then I began wondering if it was supposed to read, “each of us were.” Both looked right. And after a few minutes of staring at them, both looked wrong.
I Googled the two phrases. I found an online grammar test that apparently had the correct phrase in it. I completed the online grammar test just to see the answers. I discovered that, according to this test, one of the two phrases was, in fact, correct. I don’t remember now which of the two phrases was correct, or were correct, but I proofread the essay in question and I am confident that I used the proper usage.
I also sometimes purposely violate grammatical standards in the interest of what I euphemistically call creative license. I use exclamation marks inappropriately! Don’t always use complete sentences. Every now and then I end sentences with wayward prepositions, but not too many that I’m aware of. I have been known to deliberately and incorrectly use some words interchangeably (I particularly enjoy replacing “wanderlust” with “wonderlust”).
With the advent of urban acronyms, new-fangled words, inane abbreviations, and texting, I’m just doing my small part to thrust our language a bit further into the devolvolution of humanoid and hominid levels. At the rate we’re moving, by the year 2300 we will have sufficiently rendered our communicative skills back to pre-australopithecine lows. I’ve been trying to work the word “australopithecine” into casual conversation since 1994. I can now die a happy woman.
There. I have said my peace. Or perhaps I have said my piece. Whateva!
© Kit Duncan, 2010
Green Onions, by the Ventures
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Dedicated with affection and respect and some degree of guilt
The Memory of Frances Barnes.
The Last of the True School Marms,
and One of the Finest Teachers Who Ever Wielded a Pointer!