(Originally written Thursday, January 26, 2006)
See, the problem is that as a journalist and magazine copyeditor, I'm always aware of the constant grammatical mistakes people make. We, as Americans, take great pride in destroying English, and I have no idea why.
Anyway, although none of this stuff may seems important to you fictional readers out there in cyberspace, I just need to get this shit off my chest before I end up stabbing somebody in the eye the next time they erroneously conjugate the verb "to squat."
So let's begin, shall we? I'm going to give you a few tips that will help you get through a normal day without butchering the language I love. And if you don't pay attention, you just might learn something in the process.
Made-up words. It's okay to use certain made-up words because they're fun and wacky. Examples of this are ginormous and fantabulous. But it is never, ever good to use made up words that people try to pass off as real. Irregardless?: yeah, not a word. Normalcy?: ditto. Just because politicians try to pass them off as existing doesn't mean they do. Stick with regardless, because it is a real word, same with normality. People, who try to use the excuse that these words, and others, are in certain dictionaries, are 'tards. A little known fact, (apparently) is that some dictionaries don't just contain real words, they also contain words that are used, (always say used, never utilized, it makes people sound pretentious) in everyday language, whether they are real or not. Don't fall into that trap people!
Sayings that don't make sense. People love to spew words from their mouths that, when put together in a certain order, simply don't make sense. Let's break a few of these sayings down.
"I could care less." Guess what? If you could care less that means that you actually care about something somewhat. Most often this is not the intention the person has when they use this pithy saying. Try saying "I couldn't care less." Because that, naturally, means that you are at the very bottom limit of caring about something, and there's no way in hell you could possibly not care about it any more.
"Have your cake and eat it too." This is an easy one. Put out your hand like you're holding a plate with a piece of cake on it. There, you have your cake. Now, pretend as if you're eating that cake, (ummm good!) You have just successfully had your cake and eaten it too. But try that in reverse, and you will find it impossible to "Eat your cake and have it too," which is the real saying. Use it from now on.
Same difference. That shit doesn't make sense, don't use it! Got it? Good, let;s move on.
Toward/towards. There is no such thing as the word towards, yet people use it all the time. It's not their fault, they just didn't know. Toward never has an "s" at the end. Simple isn't it?
Podium/lectern. I have to admit this is a minor one. But it keeps me up at nights! Even the world's best writers have gotten this one wrong, and it's just from common ignorance. A podium is what people stand on. It is a stage, or platform. A lectern is what people stand behind, when they make speeches and whatnot. It holds their notes, water, drugs, what have you. Everybody always thinks the podium is what speakers stand behind. Admit it, you thought so too! But know you know. And knowing is half the battle.
This is just the first lesson boys and girls. I'm sure I'll be able to think up many more things to add to this list. Until then, use what you have learned today, and everybody will think you're much smarter. And while you're getting laid because of your brilliant mind, think of me. Well, maybe that isn't such a good idea, but you get what I'm saying.