Please, for your own safety, do not be within striking distance of me when making comments that seek to justify the bastardisation of the English language that we see all around us in 2012.
I’ve never been a violent man, not in a strike-out-at-you-with-clenched-fist kind of way at least. There aren’t too many things that genuinely get my blood boiling, but one of them is definitely language; more specifically, the mis-use of language, particularly wherever a mobile device or anything internet-related is concerned.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not talking about internet jargon or “txt spk” here. The likes of ‘lol’, ‘soz’, ‘c u l8r’, ‘gr8’ and ‘roflmao’ do serve some purpose, even if only to allow lazy people who probably can’t spell anyway to generate and send unimportant messages tens of seconds faster than they otherwise might have. I guess that’s just how the kids roll these days. Coz it’s clearly all about speed of response when notifying someone of the wholly implausible scenario that you just laughed so hard you rolled on the floor as a consequence… things sure haven’t improved much since the equally dubious olden-days claim that “I laughed my head off”, have they? I never really managed to believe that one either! At any rate ‘lol’ and co aren’t real words, so I’m never too bothered how and where they’re used.
Actually, my real beef – at least for the purposes of this post – isn’t even the mis-use of the English language (although that is undeniably a significant beef of mine, as anyone who knows me well enough will attest!). No, my real beef is that too many people have become so flippant, so arrogantly disrespectful of the English language as to believe it’s OK to not care about misplaced punctuation marks, words that are typically used incorrectly, even spelling, so long as the intention behind what’s been written is understood. And besides, you can get away with all kinds of stuff online these days and nobody cares, so….
Aside from being disingenuous in most cases, it’s totally offensive to the beauty, elegance and musicality of the written word. Why disingenuous? Because in my experience, this old chestnut’s typically the refuge of those who don’t have an especially strong grasp of spelling, punctuation or grammar to start with. I say embrace it!; own your grammatical defectiveness! If you just don’t get it, blame the complete absence of grammar from the primary school English syllabus in this country since the 80s; if you just don’t care, go all out and admit you couldn’t give a flying fuck one way or the other! Just don’t resort to piss-poor excuses and flippant dismissiveness. In the end, not caring is far more offensive than not knowing. Neither the device you’re using nor the forum or context in which you’re using it are in any way responsible for the fact that you can’t spell and that you feel an innate need to bust out an apostrophe before the ‘s’ in every plural!
And while we’re on the topic, don’t get me started on rogue apostrophes… oops, too late! Seriously, what’s with the apostrophe thing? Let’s look at an example:
THE DOG’S BOLLOCK’S
Now a slightly different take:
THE DOG’S BOLLOCK是S
I replaced the apostrophe before the ‘s’ in ‘bollocks’ with a random Chinese character. I’ve never seen the Chinese character before and I don’t have a clue what it means.
What do the two sentences have in common? Very simply, they’re both wrong; more specifically, the presence of the apostrophe in the word ‘bollocks’ is as redundant as the Chinese character. Go with me on this one – it’s an analogy I’ve used to reasonably good effect over the years: using an apostrophe without being able to explain why you’ve used it or what it does serves as much purpose as chucking a random character from a foreign language into the middle of an English word – i.e. it serves no purpose whatsoever. The rule of thumb is pretty simple: if you don’t know what it’s for or can’t explain what it does, don’t use it!
But then, there’s always the possibility that you don’t actually know that what you’re doing is wrong. So if you’re lucky enough to have someone in your life who’s willing to edumacate you to your grammatically defective ways, the very least you can do is show your respect to the language you speak by putting what you’re taught into practice. Never mind your chocolates, oysters, honey or chillis… if you’re like me, there’s no aphrodisiac like the buzz you get from bringing to life a sentence that’s correctly constructed in every way!
When I put it like that, though, I doubt anyone’s like me.