Monday, December 1, 2008

Today's Grammar Gripes

You've heard it said many times, many ways -- no, not "Merry Christmas" -- but "English is a living language, always changing with the times."

I vote "NO!" With one disclaimer. I do not believe we should still be speaking The Bard's English. All those "doths" and "dosts" can cramp a person's style. But I do believe that we should try to protect the current form of our language from assault and battery.

One would think newscasters, whether on TV or on the radio, would be paragons of proper English, but regrettably, they are not.

Here's one gripe: One announcer seizes on a quirky pronunciation, and before long, they're all using it. For instance, take "divisive." It means, roughly, "tending to divide." Nobody says "dividd," do they? So why, particularly during the national campaigns, did we hear so much of things being "di-VISS-ive?" Webster's dictionary never heard of this pronunciation.

Here are three more offenses, all heard on the local news:

Snuck - Yuck. Even an NPR reporter was guilty of this Mortimer Snerd word. The past tense of "sneak" is "sneaked."

Busted - As in "Windows were busted out..." Doesn't "broken" sound better, and more accurate? "Busted" means, in popular usage, "caught red-handed," or "taken to the pokey."

Hung - As in "The criminal was hung at dawn." Well, "hung" in the vernacular means he was well-endowed in the manly parts department. So I suppose that criminal was hung at dawn, at noon and at sundown, too. However, if he was executed via hanging, then he was "hanged."

If you have pet English usage gripes, let me know. Otherwise, I imagine I'll hear more on TV or radio ere long. Hang loose(ly).

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