10 September, 2015

Archive Autumn - That Would Be Myself

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be re-posting a few blog posts from my archives. I'm starting here with the post that recieved the most comments, both on the blog and on social media. It was first posted on 5th June 2012. I'd be interested to know whether you have anything to add to it three years later...


Just after I wrote the first draft of this post, I turned on the radio to the news that the Queen's English Society was closing down. This post, therefore, is a tribute to them...

A few weeks ago I made a comment on facebook about my current grammar hang-up. It got a lot of comments from people agreeing with me! I like it when people use correct grammar. I also know, that I don't do it all the time, not even when writing, so I try not to get too angry about such things. Grammar fascists do not make good party guests.

However, this particular trend was really annoying me. Why do some people insist on using 'myself' and 'yourself', instead of 'me' (or 'I') and 'you'? It's terrible English, and the bit that really annoys me is that they don't seem to be doing it just because their English is bad; they appear to be doing it to make themselves look better - as if the more letters they say in one sentence, the more impressive it is. It was The Apprentice that tipped me over the edge. I know what you're thinking - anybody who watches The Apprentice doesn't have the right to criticise anybody else - but it's not just them. I got an e-mail once from an editor of something I contributed to, which said something along the lines of, " ---- or myself will send you the contract". An editor. I almost sent an e-mail back saying, "Myself will sign the contract when yourself has sent it to me," but decided that was not the best way to develop a good working relationship.

I won't continue the rant here, but it got me thinking about these hang-ups. I guess we all have them - writers perhaps more than most. I've learned to my cost that one of my loyal readers does not approve of 'alright' (apparently it should always be 'all right'), and another is driven crazy by 'try and...' instead of 'try to...' (something which annoys me too, but I still have to correct it in my own work all the time!). So what's your hang-up? And what do you find yourself doing - if you dare admit to it?!

I suppose the real question in all of this is: does it really matter? Does it matter if good grammar disappears? Everything in me screams 'YES!', but our language is evolving and the changing use of grammar is part of that. I once jokingly corrected a friend who said 'wedding invites' instead of 'wedding invitations', and one of her friends - who (or should that be whom?) I didn't know - told me that as the common usage of words change over time, I was stupid for not thinking 'invites' was perfectly acceptable now. I didn't really have an answer. Why should we cherish some points of grammar and not others?

I quite happily google things and facebook someone, when technically Google and Facebook started as nouns. I pronounce the word "garage" as gar-idge. I know some people hate that and think it should be pronounced with a long vowel in the middle and soft ending. But I bet those same people pronounce "village" as vill-idge. They are both words we took from the French, so why do people get hung-up on one and not the other?

What are you happy to let slide when it comes to good English? Are your standards different for written and spoken English? Have you got any good examples of terrible grammar you've spotted anywhere?

3 comments:

  1. I can reveal that I am that loyal reader. But I've given up the battle on alright and all other Americanisms - the fight has been lost! We are now on teams instead of in them, sit on butts instead of backsides, have pinkies instead of little fingers, we are all guys, and I'm SO over getting worked up about it!

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  2. I notice bad grammar, but it doesn't bother me all that much when I see it. Sometimes it just makes me chuckle. I understand that many people like me are in a hurry and just don't check things. Of course, many people just don't know they're wrong too.

    But we all make mistakes. I know the difference between your and you're but I've sometimes typed out your when it should be you're. I guess the amount of forgiveness for those things, :) depends on where it is. A casual email, who cares. A major/national marketing campaign--that's a bit more of an eye roller.

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    1. On Facebook people jump on me all the time for spelling mistakes and typos. They think because I'm a writer it shouldn't happen to me. It's very tedious. I don't write things on Facebook for the sake of writing beautiful prose! Context is everything.

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