Thursday, September 06, 2007

In a perfect world, we'd all speak perfectly

I like to believe that there's some kind of spirit life after we die, whether it exists in a place called heaven or in some other realm we don't know about. If I imagine the faces I might see there, I picture representatives of both sexes, all races, all nationalities, all religions. In my mind, all of our faces are smiling, and we're talking pleasantly in a common, universal language.

Then I think about one particular group of real-life people and realize I wouldn't be smiling if I were forced to listen to them speak for an extended period of time. The more I think about them, the more I'd kind of like to believe they'll be segregated from the rest of us, tucked away into their own little corner of the Pearly Gates Retirement Community. The truth is that if I knew I'd have to spend eternity chatting with people who say "excape," "ex cetera," and "expecially," I might not climb aboard that heaven-bound bus.

I've heard a local weatherman say "expecially" three times in the past week. Each time I heard it, I found myself wishing one of his lightning-bolt graphics would zoom across the screen to zap him in the head and put us all out of our misery.

Is that particular mispronunciation just a southern thing? I don't recall hearing it when I lived in other parts of the country. Maybe I did hear it and it didn't register back then. Maybe I've just grown older and crankier.

Another thing that sets my teeth on edge -- and I hear people make this mistake over and over on television -- is "between you and I" or "he gave it to Jessica and I." The word "me" seems to have fallen out of favor among the young lovelies and hunky heroes who inhabit our TV screens. It's obvious by looking at them that "me" is very much on their minds, but they rarely say the word.

I suspect that the people who are afraid to use "me" as an objective pronoun are the same ones who were instructed repeatedly in childhood not to use it at the beginning of a sentence, as in "Me and Johnny are going to ride our bikes now." They seem to have absorbed part of the lesson but none of the logic.

Anyway, when these people's souls ascend to wherever it is that we all hope to wind up, I hope I don't have to talk to them, either. Perhaps they could be situated between the "ex"-talkers and the rest of us. That way we can at least admire their good looks.

Most of the time when I'm engaged in conversation with someone, it's the content of what they say that interests me, not the structure of it. I'm sure I could fill a fresh notebook every week with the poor grammar I hear around here, but most of the time I don't even notice it. I'd love to know why it is that I can ignore the overwhelming majority of mangled language I hear, yet the two types of errors I've described in this post always, always set off alarms and irritate the heck out of me.

In other words, the level of annoyance I feel doesn't expecially make sense, but I can't seem to excape it.


  1. Velvet, For me, it's "supposably" and people who don't know the difference between "then" and "than." I want to gnaw my own ears off when I hear those.

    I'm praying that universal language is more of a mental thing... not verbal.

  2. But think again. When you are in a foreign country and you hear someone say something you can understand, no matter their accent or speech pattern, it just feels good to hear it. Really.

  3. I hate it when people say "Irregardless." Oh it kills me. My ex use to say it all the time...made my jaw crack I clinched my teeth so hard.


  4. I'm sure that if I could hear, such poor speaking would make me want to punch the speakers, but in my case, it's misspellings and lousy written grammar that get me.

  5. V - My new boss says "irregardless" on a regular basis. It makes me cringe but I don't mention it's NOT A WORD. He's a self-important kind of guy and it's amusing to see he has no clue, at least where that one non-word comes into play.

  6. I ain't got no good grammer and I knowed it. I be hopin you all will see fit to overlook it fer it is the way I my folks learned me to speak.

  7. our husband hates it when people at work say "I seen that on tv last night" or "I seen her last night" and these are well educated people!


  8. Sorry, I seen that somewhere but cain't remember whered hit was.

    Sorry, Hillbilly here. Ain't got no learnin'

  9. All joking aside...
    What drives me crazy is all these funky, beautiful young girls
    and handsome athletes that can not make a sentence without the word like in it or you know. like how would you know. Like I hope I can do it. You know what I mean. You know this is the best I can know. Snap!

  10. Office co-worker, on learning that he missed an important meeting:
    "If I hadda known, I woulda went"!!!
    My previous boss's response to practically anything that was said to him:
    "Not a problem".
    Double EWWW.
    And of course, there's always our friend Mr Bush with his favourite word "nukular".

  11. Mr Bush with his favourite word "nukular"...
    LOL There's now Pepsi on my pc monitor. LOL David Letterman has a whole skit dedicated to Bush's inability to speak. That's odd since he was able to about 10 years ago. Did you know it's been speculated that he might have Alzheimer's aka Old Timers? It's true, it's been said quite a bit. If you look at old recordings he speaks clearly, confidently but, not so much.


  12. What sets my teeth on edge is "these ones" and "those ones" - which I hear nearly every day. And what is with inserting "like" into every sentence, every third word?!?


Your comments might be the very best thing about blogging. I love it when you care enough to share your thoughts here, so go ahead and say what's on your mind.