Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I, Nazi [May 27]

Back in the day, inspecting baseball cards with my brother. We were looking for duplicates in our separate collections.

"Got 'im."
"Got 'im."
"Don't got 'im."
"Got 'im."

When Dad heard this, he exploded with his classic, "WHAT!!!!!" We were then given a lecture on proper grammar.

We would answer, "But ALL the kids say that!"

"AND IF ALL THE KIDS JUMPED OFF THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE ..." Well, you know what follows.

That was my beginning. Backed up by countless, priests and nuns, I started on my quest.

Yes. My name is Ace. I am a Grammar Nazi.

Imagine the cheek of myself and like-minded people. Trying to improve the use of our language. Establishing some sort of standards.

Heresy. I feel like an agnostic at a K of C smoker.

Irregardless, supposably, exscape, asterik, espianade, athaletics, assemble-ey, southmore. These are just horrid (or non-) words. What about putting them into a sentence?

As a copywriter, I saw a glaring error in an ad my firm was designing. The client—sorry, the almighty client—wrote the copy. It was for booze at Christmastime holiday.


To boot, the ad was to run in the Sunday Times Magazine. I raised a red flag. A big one.

YHN [Your Humble Narrator]: "It should be lying."
Boss: "You sure?"
YHN: "One hundred percent."
Boss: "That sounds wrong. Like someone is telling a lie."
YHN: "I realize this. It would work fine if we just eliminate laying."
Boss: "We'd better not change it. It's the client."

Weeks later, my boss admitted sheepishly admitted that both the client and magazine had received hundreds of letters of protest from Grammar Nazis worldwide.

Boss: "We should have caught that error, Tim."
YHN: "I did."
Boss: [speechless]

Some more vignettes:

YHN [at a deli in Coal Country]: "Does anyone here use the verb doesn't?"
Cashier: "It don't matter."

Bartender: "Your daughter is a music major? My son plays in the sympathy orchestra in Williamsport."

This was at a writing class for potential TV scripts:
Speaker: "Watch out when using adjectives like modestly."
YHN [raising hand]: "Modestly is an adverb."
Speaker: "Oh, a grammarian."
YHN: [walks out and never returns]

The beat goes on, sonny ...

"I shoulda went yesterday."

"There isn't no place like that around here."

When did someone decide that to pluralize a noun, you can just tack on an 's?

Slings and arrows like this sting even worse when delivered by professionals.

Cedric the Entertainer: "Let's see. She don't have no lifelines left."

ESPN wag: "... and when UConn stepped up their defense, it changed my whole complexion."

Carson Daly, on People Who Sing too Many Notes: "Let's see how that performance resignates with the judges."

Brain-dead weatherman on WNEP in Scranton: "Let's look at that fall folage." This might have been a tongue-slip, except he repeated the word—with the same erratum—a zillion times.

Listen to Guy Fieri say paperika or Emeril Lagasse tongue-twist asagio (yes, the cheese), and it makes you wonder.

I have one criteria: the more a talking head is paid, the more that person should be held accountable for language gaffes.

As far as roast beef with au jus sauce, I just can't go there anymore.

We also manage to eviscerate every foreign language we can get our tongues on. We have no trouble saying "Give me a panini." Would you ever ask for "a sandwiches?"

Will this mangling, trampling, eviscerating, disrespecting of the language continue to pass muster? It seems so. People justify this via a sentence that drives me Billy Jack: "You know what I mean."

As an answer, I say we should relax standards in all fields and walks of life. Examples:

Pulled-over driver: "But officer, I was doing 55!"
State Cop: "The radar gun said, 'pretty fast.'"

Cashier: "That comes to three-and-change. Out of five. A buck-something is your change."

Batter: "Ump, what's the count?"
Umpire: "I think it's two-and-whatever."

Sports reporter: "And right now, Dallas is up by a bunch over the Giants, with time left in the game."

Tire merchant: "Okay, that looks to be a 45R16 or 17. We've got something that might fit."

Carpenter: "Let's make the legs on that table 32-33 inches long."

Conductor: "Give me something close to a B-flat."

Judge: "I sentence you to quite a few years of prison, with parole available after a time."

I rest my case. But yes, I am going to fight the good fight to call out offenders and ask other Nazis to follow in goose step.

But I must close here. My copy of "For Who the Bell Tolls" is due back at the libary.

Addendum: Other than quoting errors and the penultimate paragraph, I have intentionally inserted a grammatical gaffe. Let's see if there are any finders and seekers out there.

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