Tuesday, December 20, 2016
ME and HIM
Returning to drawing on cave walls may well be the best way for us to communicate with each other. Since we have made such gigantic strides in brutalizing the English language in just about every other forum, it certainly can't hurt.
There was a time in the Good Ole USA that “reading, writing and arithmetic” were cornerstones of our basic education. But that was long ago and far away. Nowadays some people with college degrees are just as likely to butcher a sentence as little boys and girls in the first grade of elementary school. Allow me a bit of leeway here, dear reader. In my own family struggles abound. Some of us are successful in meeting these challenges, some not so.
Just short years ago, my middle daughter mastered consistent use of “y'know”. She used it before, after, and sometimes in the middle of sentences. At some point she abruptly abandoned the field leaving it to Chris Evert (aka” Chrissie”) to continue as undisputed champion in the use of this non-word. One of my sons-in-law cringes at the use of “at” at the end of a sentence, as in “where's it at?”. This leads to all hands using it at every opportunity to test the level of his blood pressure.
When I was a teenager many of us living in the leafy suburbs of Philadelphia attended Lower Merion High School which was, and still is, a highly regarded institution of secondary education. Within those hallowed halls diminutive Mrs. Margaret Hay ruled English language territory with a firm hand. Mrs. Hay has since ascended to the Great Schoolhouse in the Sky but her influence rolls along through the loyalty of her disciples. My pal David is one such. He was the fiercely competitive captain of the football team. Nowadays he guards the flame of proper English in the same passionate way. Whenever or wherever friend or foe misspeaks, David quickly pounces, invoking the battle cry “Remember Mrs. Hay”! It is intimidating and we always promise to reform.
None of us is grammar-proper all the time. When I struggle with these periodic communiques to you, I can turn to my eldest daughter who is an editor. Most times she is an effective life preserver.
Another bump on the English Highway is the misuse of the Plural versus the Possessive. With the holidays coming on, you might as well gird your loins, or whatever, to face versions of “Happy Holidays from your friends the Smith's” in place of “Happy Holidays from your friends the Smiths.”
Still, it may be the thought that counts.......