Today’s post was supposed to be silly. I’ve been meaning to write it for a while. Once I started writing it it got more interesting, at least to me.
Some people make a big deal about grammar. They don’t like when sentences end in prepositions or you use words like irregardless.
I call people like that annoying. I don’t think they realize the main point of communication is to convey ideas, not get stuck on the medium of communication. I stopped thinking of this post as silly when I thought about what makes a word or rule of grammar. You might want to stop and think about it. People think of them as objective things, as if written in some book we all agreed to follow or exist as parts of nature.
On the contrary, words and rules are conventions anyone is free to follow or not. Liberating yourself from those rules, or at least recognizing their source, helps you realize what other conventions you’ve been following unaware.
Some people also like to increase their vocabulary to sound smarter or more educated. I guess they don’t realize that well-educated people and experienced writers and speakers tend not to use big words. Strunk and White explicitly advises against it.
In any case I call them annoying too.
For both groups of people I like to use a few words to perk up their ears. One benefit of an Ivy League PhD is that few people think you’re dumb, even if you do things that other people would fear make them sound dumb. I hope using words and language more playfully helps get people to look past words and rules to meaning and freedom from rules.
- Irregardless. People say it’s not a word. Well, I say it is. I just used it.
- Maximalize and minimalize. I like these because they sound like someone is trying to make themselves sound smarter. I think everyone smart hears the opposite.
- Ironical. I like it for why I like maximalize and minimalize. It also describes itself.
- Orientated instead of oriented (I think it might be a word in British English, but check out this page of people who get worked up it. Could they find other applications for that energy?)
- Interpretate and misinterpretate
- I often mis-conjugate to have and to be, like I’ll say “How is you?” or “I has to run an errand.” It reminds me of the “I can has cheezburger?” lolcats. I don’t know if people find it an endearing quirk or an annoying affectation. Other people seem to have fun responding “I is fine,” so I think they get the joke and enjoy. Annoying people who don’t get it… well, how they respond is up to them.
- Beg the question: everybody except a few dozen pedants know this phrase means “raise the question.” The few dozen pedants think it means what it used to mean but no longer does. Click the link for Wikipedia’s explanation of the old meaning. I guarantee you’ll have to work to understand it and will forget it within a few minutes. To beg the question means to raise the question.
- Paris, France: sometimes people pronounce foreign words in that language, I think to show something off, presumably how much they can annoy you. I ask if they pronounce Paris “pah-ree” or France to rhyme with sconce.
The point is to have fun, expose rules for being optional, and to enable yourself to choose which you follow and which you don’t, beyond just words and grammar.
I mean, this picture is funnier for its playing with grammar and spelling, not less. To say nothing of Shakespeare and other great writers who play with the same for great effect. Mindlessly sticking to rules limits you. Telling others what to do to bores them.