Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Few Thoughts On (The English) Language

And by thoughts, I mean complaining and nitpicking. The English language has continued to erode in a few places, and somebody needs to do something. Don't worry, I'm on it.

First, I don't mind the occasional mistake. No wait, first some background.

I'm getting older, and dumber, but I swear twenty years ago I could open a book, look at a page, and my eyes would be drawn to mistakes and typos without even having to read the words.

Oh good crap, I'm Rain Man. My therapist was right after all.

Anyway, mistakes bother me. They take me out of the flow. And what I gather from the Internet, everybody else is aggressively indifferent to grammar, to the point where they will threaten you if you correct someone. It's a fun place.

So let's get this over with. The decline of the English language, three examples.

Dear everybody, don't use the word "complement." Just don't. Ever. You seem to think that you know what it means, but you really don't. It's not the same as "compliment," and you can't use them interchangeably. You do, but you can't. Apparently, having both of them is too confusing, so complement has to go. It's fine, you weren't using it anyway. When even the New Yorker website, one of the most pretentious publications I know, tells me that I have reached my limit of "complimentary articles," it's over. It's been so long since I've seen it used correctly that there is just no reason to keep it around anymore.

Next: "one of the only." Don't write this. It's either the only, or one of the few.

The last one might be a bit tricky, because I'm not sure if it's an actual rule or just my personal preference.

When you write something like "her friend and lover," I assume you're talking about one person. Otherwise you should write "her friend and her lover." So why did every paper and news site start writing things like "his wife and mother?" Are they trying to creep me out? Is Oedipus in the news again? I thought he died, or was fictional. Or both. He was survived by his wife, mother, and daughter.

Disclaimer: there may well be grammatical errors in this post. Apart from the ones I discussed, I mean.

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