Have you ever stood in a line and heard, “Oh, I love me a light-skinneded man.” Or you’re watching your favorite television program and the actor says, “Irregardless of what my father says, I’m going out.” And the classic, “Yo shorty, when is you gonna to give me ya number so we can conversate?”
I know I’m not the only person to hear or read these things and I can’t continue to ignore this growing problem. Jeffery Copeland, Head of the English Department at University of North Iowa says that people should “lighten up and be more tolerant” of the way other people communicate. I’m trying but I can’t do it. So I insist on addressing some common mistakes that I continue to hear and read.
Wrong -“Oh, I love me a light-skinneded man.”
Correct- “Oh, I love light-skinned men.” Light-skinneded is not a real word.
Wrong – “Irregardless of what my father says, I’m going out.”
Correct- “Regardless of what my father says, I’m going out.”
Nothing irritates me more than hearing someone say irregardless. It makes no sense. The suffix -less already makes the word negative so there is no need to place the prefix ir- before it.
Wrong- “Yo shorty, when is you gonna give me ya number so we can conversate?”
Correct- “Yo shorty, when are you going to give me your number so we can converse.”
I’m going to say that this word exists because people always try to make verbs out of nouns. The noun is conversation and the verb form is converse, not conversate.
I used to think the purpose of the dictionary was to list real words and their correct definition. Dictionaries, unfortunately, are a business like everything else and if they kept the same words and their meaning, you’d have no reason to buy a new dictionary every so often. So, the purpose of most dictionaries nowadays is to keep a record of popular words and their usage, whether it’s grammatically correct or not. This practice began back in 1895 when Funk and Wagnalls, who wrote the Standard dictionary, defined words according to their then current usage rather than the historical meaning.
Yes, I understand that the language has to change and evolve. But some words are changing just because they sound a like and now mean the same thing e.g., aggravate and irritate. This is all starting to remind me of new speak in the book 1984 by George Orwell. If you haven’t read the book I suggest you pick it up. But I digress.
Aggravate means to make worse. Irritate means to annoy.
Wrong- “He is aggravating me.”
Correct- “He is irritating me.”
Wrong- “The thought of his dumb butt working for Bob irritates my high blood pressure.”
Correct- “The thought of his dumb butt working for Bob aggravates my high blood pressure.”
See no evil
Not every mistake is made in speech. Copeland said he came across a sentence that read: “If your children won’t eat their vegetables, feed them to the dogs.” In this sentence is the writer suggesting the veggies be fed to the dogs or the children be fed to the dogs? Martha Barnette, co-host of the popular KPBS public radio show, “A Way with Words” offers the following example:
“[C]heck out what a comma can do for you. Supposedly an author once dedicated his book this way: “To my parents, the Pope and Mother Teresa.”
Speak no evil
I realize my grammar may not always be perfect and I hope that people will correct me, when I’m wrong. When I hear or read something that is incorrect, I usually will correct the person. Some people accept the correction; others will claim that they heard so and so say it on TV so it must be right. And some will tell me that they will continue to use or pronounce a word incorrectly because they have been doing it for so long. There are some who get offended or annoyed but I think it is rude of me not to correct them or else they would go out into the world saying, “I was driving on the gravity,” when they really meant they were driving on the gravel. “We all grow up assuming we’ve been taught correctly – that a grammatical rule is true because Ms. Thistlebottom told us so when we were in seventh grade – so we tend to get bent out of shape if those assumptions are challenged,” says Barnette.
I know that this article will not cure the world of incorrect English grammar, but I just wanted to bring this to your attention. If you have fallen victim to any of the mistakes I mentioned above, get help. And one last tip: Microsoft Word’s grammar check is pure garbage. Don’t use it! chosing