Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Humor Has Worn Off.

Words mean things.  Agreed?  Punctuation means things.  Agreed?  Perhaps my need to write, the primal urge I feel to put my thoughts on paper, has its beginnings at the beginning.  A mother that reads to her womb-encased child is proven to have an impact on that child’s language skills.   So the long hours of listening to someone read to me aloud likely had an impact of which I may only now be realizing.  Even though what I likely heard were gurgles through amniotic fluid, something must have taken – by osmosis.  But then again, I was a captive audience.  Where the heck else was I going to go?  By the way, I intentionally use the word ‘impact’ because I fear misusing ‘affect’ or ‘effect’ and appearing to be the ignorant writer of which I have become so intolerant.  I just can’t seem to get the rule in my head for which word is most appropriate at any given time. 

Continued frustration.

Oh, there have been some grand examples of words misused, and mixed metaphors that have left me laughing on the floor.  Only recently, the 14th of March to be exact (yes sometimes I chronicle these happenings), a co-worker spoke of the ‘pot-o-pourey’ that his wife had purchased.  I tried not to laugh and cut him some slack since it was close to St. Patrick’s Day and I thought perhaps he was just trying to get into the spirit of things.  Other co-workers over the years have provided an abundance of words and sayings that challenge one to keep a straight face.  For instance, did you realize there IS a difference between emaciated and emancipated?  Do you know if you are a guy going to an appointment with the obstetrician you might raise eyebrows?  Perhaps you meant optometrist, yes?  I was also listening to a country bumpkin recount watching a Seinfeld episode long in syndication and refer to the ‘armoire-trois’ when in fact he was referring to George’s idea for Jerry to dump his girlfriend for her room-mate by suggesting a ménage-et-trois.  How do you keep from laughing when presented with something like that?  The visual image alone brings a smile to your face … it has to.  What is an Armoire-trois?  Three people making whoopee in a clothes closet? 
          

My goodness.  Do people not think before opening their mouths? 

How about the mixed metaphors?  One of the many old sayings I repeatedly heard a gentleman mangle is now always at the forefront of my mind, and which I have repeated among family as they know the inside story.  This from a man talking of how fast his friend’s kids were growing up.  You’ve been there.  We all have.  Water cooler talk and some employee stops in with their children while everyone performs the obligatory ritual of pretending to care what grade they are now in or what their sports interests are.  Really?  When they leave we can’t even remember their names.  But I digress.  At this point in the conversation what is heard simply astounds: “I remember when you were knee-high to a fencepost”.  Huh?  While it brings to mind the old branches that farmers sometimes use for fence posts, and I suppose the imagination could make the bends play the part of ‘knees’ if you were in fact living in the Ent forest, I still have a hard time understanding how a reasonable person could combine phrases and arrive at ‘Knee-high to a fence-post’.  

  

My goodness.  Do people not think before opening their mouths?

Do we really want to get started on punctuation?  Can a simple comma make a difference?  Can a simple comma, make a difference.  I guess it can.  Add a comma and the question mark disappears.  But just why would we want to can a simple comma?  There’s that question mark again!  That warrants an exclamation point.  Does the overuse of the exclamation point drive you nuts too?  I’m writing a blog!  I’m going to the store!  That latte was delicious!  LOL!!  OMG!!!  Somehow the exclamation mark is synonymous with the overuse of the word ‘awesome’ and strangely tied into the whole social networking ‘let everyone know my life is meaningful by adding a punctuation mark’ syndrome.  And how did we get to the point where the same adjective is used to describe things like a television show, a bathroom, a shooting star, new shoes, a leaf?  Does everything we do each day really warrant the descriptor ‘awesome’?  Our God is an Awesome God – nearly everything else falls short of ‘awesome’.   

My goodness.  Do people not think before opening their mouths?

Are we that shallow?  Are we that naïve?  Are we that uneducated.   Are we just plain stupid as a people or do we simply don’t care?  I have been told over and over ‘It’s all in the presentation’ and when someone presents themselves in the spoken or written word as an idiot, there are certain assumptions I feel justified in making.  While I understand simple mistakes on Facebook that are made while trying to quickly post a status update, all too frequently it becomes apparent that a writer simply does not understand the proper usage of such simple words as there/their/they’re, or to/too/two, or plane/plain.  More aggravating is the very Midwestern bad habit of using the wrong tense in word combinations.  For instance:  We was going to read this tomorrow, but then I seen it on the screen and decided to read it now.  

I simply must pause and scream. 


Perhaps too make a point it wood bee best two clothes out this blog entry buy selecting at random whichever spelling of a word eye feel like using.  Aye could throw in, a couple of unnecessary commas or punctuation mark’s just too make it interesting.  Eye wonder if their will really bee anyone that has any difficulty, reeding a few sentences of pour grammar.  Does it make a difference?  Does any won care?  Will any body notice?  Perhaps on this April Fool’s Day the reel joke is on ewe, four the author of this blog is knot Erin.

                                                                                                                                     - Bryan Block, aka Papa


Listen: 
 

44 comments:

  1. Something about falling apples....

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  2. Oh, Erin! You are speaking directly to this English teacher's heart. I think I might have to print this off, show it to my students, and insist they confess with their nimble fingers into some small box they call their iPhones. Alas. In one screen and out the other. :)

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    1. Emily - Ha! I certainly think any offenses should be made confessions of in some way. ;) And actually, my dad, Bryan, wrote this one...he instilled the fear of good grammar in me early on.

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    2. Emily, as a fat old man that has hired/fired... there are few things more important to get right for that first impression that the written word. You will never get a face-to-face unless you show a grasp of the written language. Print away! Bryan

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    3. Agreed! I'll pass this advice along to my students, too.

      And Erin: I like your dad.

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    4. Emily...he's a pretty cool dude. :)

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  3. Dis post wuz awesume!


    I do actually type awesome, but it is because I hate using "epic" . I also threw-up in my mouth a little bit typing the first sentence.

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  4. I love the L'armoire picture you found for this post and a clever idea for an April fools post. We always did like to fool on this day :-)

    Mama (sbg)

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    1. sgb - You just need to learn to not skip to the bottom and read the ending first. Are you one of those people who reads the last chapter of a book first!? hehe :)

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  5. Kool 1 m8, u 4got text speke on ur rant!!!!

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  6. I started out thinking you were being a bit hard on people. Nice joke though. I find that typing is the cause of most of my word junk. Regardless, one must always remember, half the people are below average no matter how much we spend or how hard we try to imoprove education.

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  7. I think I reconciled a bit of self-depreciating humor, but, for all intensive purposes, I could care less what words people use to express theirselves. One thing has me a little picked, though: I think the epitaph "idiot" is unappropriate. According to the original meaning of the word, an idiot has an IQ below 25. An imbecile is between 25 and 50, a moron between 50 and 70, and a cretin between 70 and 85. The distinction between these may be as slight as a hare's breath; however, I think you are more likely thinking of a cretin than an idiot. ;-)

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    1. I was not relying on technical scales or professionally labelled categories, rather the Webster definition: Showing complete lack or thought or common sense. I believe that works.... I'll stick with 'idiot'. Bryan

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    2. Oops, I thought this was April fun. I used the words and phrases "reconciled", "self-depreciating", "for all intensive purposes", "could care less", "theirselves", "picked", "epitaph", "unappropriate", and "hare's breath" to play along with the post.

      I included the idiot comment for fun too, and hoped the ;-) would signal that. I am sorry if I came across in any other way.

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    3. I noticed the misuses - at least some of them. No offense here.
      Glad you took the post in the manner it was intended. b

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  8. Can you bring Bryan back on for another guest post sometime? Great stuff!

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    1. John - Indeed...I think I can and I will. :)

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  9. Wonderful post Erin! "The other side of the tracks", I just read in Ambrose's "Nothing Like it in the World." The windward side of a town from a steam railroad that divided it, and thus the poorer part of the burg. And abbreviations, I'm still not entirely used to all that are out there. And how many grammar and literary mistakes did I just make and violate? Probably would do me good to reflect on this.

    Gregg

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  10. Grammar, the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit : )

    Well done Papa Block, young Erin's following some hefty footsteps.

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  11. While I occasionally will utilize crap grammar and punctuation purposefully, I do sometimes feel like I am having a brain hemorrhage trying to read some people's writing. Same thing goes for listening to some folks speak.

    My wife told me about a co-worker of hers being a complete idiot. The girl seemed of average intelligence, when I'd spoken to her, albeit very briefly. Then I saw her facebook wall. She constantly misspelled three letter words, and utilized completely wrong words in every sentence.

    And coming from a family rich in the hillbilly retardation type that can only come from the more backward parts of Oklahoma, I'm not immune to certain phrases myself, although when I use them I try to do it in a humorous manner, and not seriously.

    Sometimes I'm not sure if it's the piss poor public education system we've created that is to blame, or if people are just getting dumber each generation. More emphasis is placed on passing standardized tests now instead of actually *learning* anything. Generations ago, everyone in school was taught Latin, and so were many who never attended school. There was a stress on learning basic mathematics. The educated were actually EDUCATED. You didn't earn a degree or diploma by simply showing up.

    The fractured nature of the American public's attention span may also be to blame. Instead of focusing on core subjects of reading, writing, mathematics, and science we allow our children to become scatter brained and put more emphasis on sports, cheer, looking good and being popular. I've seen it happen in my own family, and I cringe when having to deal with those people.

    I was not the most attentive student in my English and Literature classes - but I think I paid at least enough attention to be more eloquent in my writing and speaking than a vegetable.

    I really hope we see more submissions from Papa Block in the near future, thanks Erin. And thanks, Papa Block.

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    1. Mark - You're a kindred spirit. :)

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  12. Hi- I had some trouble with the volume but I did hear a nice, clear reading voice. I really like the print from the Australian library. A photo? Very interesting texture. Almost looks like a Winslow Homer painting.
    Taking the day into account, I don't know how much is said tongue in cheek. I think I hear you though. I love Tom McGuane's mastery of language. I also have been impressed by Eminem. For me, communication is key and keeping avenues of dialogue open.
    We really enjoy Erin's writing and thoughts and it seems like you have a very nice family.

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  13. You know, if you're dad is going to lurk on my blog and then make fun of the way I write, he should at least do me the honor of mentioning my blog name.

    Having grown up in Chicago where everyone at any time is going over by dere, dem tree trees by dere, a certain amount of slack is given when it comes to words and meaning. It's the point of what is being said that takes precedence over how it's said. You learn to read and hear between the lines. I read the complete writings of Shakespeare, I'll take the musings of Richie Daley over that any day.

    Also, being married to a dyslexic, you know the words and meaning are there, they will never come out correctly no matter what you do. So why try or bother yourself with it. The heart is in the right place.

    I would much rather read something that was written from the heart with all it's imperfections, than something that tries to impress with words and grammar that take on the veneer of emotion, but has none.

    But den, wada I know? I jus wanna goes out fishin'. Da fishes don care wad I sond like. An las I herd, dey caint read.

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    1. Ken G. - I would much rather read one with both. Why settle...?

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  14. Please don't read my blog Mr. Block. You wouldn't like what you find.

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  15. hehe, dang, you must hate reading my blog.

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  16. #WTF, That, was, awesome? Your dad hyt the nail on the head.

    By the way, Hank and Jane did the cutest things this weekend......let me tell you how awesome it was!!!!!

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  17. Hilarious!! I laughed so hard it brought tears to my eyes. As funny as it was though, I have to be careful about laughing out loud too much.
    You know the old cliche' "like the pot calling the kettle black"...might be rather fitting here in my case.

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  18. It brought to mind a woman I am related to by marriage who regularly uses a word that doesn't exist, but is a mix of two separate words.

    Bellignorant.

    Certainly it isn't a real word, yet we have all met belligerently ignorant people. Such an exquisitely descriptive word should be in the dictionary. Dare I say, the word is like, awesome, LOL!!!

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    1. Beautigous!!!! pa

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    2. Bellignorant and beautious. Love them.

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  19. Here are my contributions:

    Irregardless - a former co-worker's irritating non-word.

    And for fishing types:
    - A dam holds back water. A damn is something we usually don't give.
    - Going on a trip for stripers usually creates excitement for a fisherman. Going on a trip for strippers usually creates exes.

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    1. Mark - I wholeheartedly 2nd all of these!

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  20. I just read this one today. Punctuation is the difference between "Let's eat, Grandpa" and "Lets eat Grandpa."

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    1. Proper capitalization is important, too.

      "We helped our Uncle Jack off his horse."

      Or...

      "We helped our uncle jack off his horse."

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    2. T.J. - Quite true. And now I need to go get that very horrible mental image out of my mind. ;)

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    3. PA Dave - I've always had a fascination with cannibalism...

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  21. Oh, this is great! My grammar is far from perfect but at the age of 14 it was good enough to help me win a free ride scholarship to art school. I was also fortunate enough to have a journalist father and a mother who taught high school. When my kids were in school I was shocked by the ineptitude of some of the english teachers. Mistakes missed on compositions. Poor grammar and sometimes even mis-spellings in their comments. Should have home schooled, huh?

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    1. Hart - ha! I do think it's the way to go, but of course, I'm biased. ;)

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  22. Anyway, my point is that speech itself is natural, but grammar and spelling have to be taught....
    Also I think some people have an ear for it and actually listen. So few people really listen.

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  23. Man, this was totally awesome. Ok scratch awesome :D but yeah, some people have ridiculously week (I know it's weak ;) just kidding :)) English basics and when I converse with them or read something they've written, I feel like screaming too :/
    PS- please lemme know of any corrections in my comment

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