Sunday, September 07, 2003

Hey you over their! What do u think your doing with those too apsotrophe's?

I suppose that since I mention it in my mission statement on the right, and since my first real post is about it, I should talk a little bit about my weird grammar hang-up, and maybe a couple of other things that piss me off, which you'll probably be reading more about soon. (About which you'll probably soon be reading more.)

I'm not actually all that bothered by bad grammar on the whole. I can watch Snoop Dogg's TV show with nary a twitch. I am, however a collection of shockingly minor pet peeves.

I understand the differences between conversational and written English, between casual and formal writing, formal writing and very formal writing, business letters and legal documents, and so on. I often don't use capital letters in e-mails, and almost never in instant messages. I use slang liberally, and have programmed my spell-checker to stop flagging fake words like gotcha, wanna and kinda.

The tone of this blog is meant to be conversational, so while I had an urge to correct the last clause of the first paragraph, I did so only for comic effect. People -- smart, educated people -- talk like that, and it isn't a national tragedy. Besides, the corrected version sounds dorky as hell.

But here's the thing: Use punctuation incorrectly and I will be on your ass faster than a drunk Boy Meets Boy contestant. The worst offender seems to be the misused apostrophe. If something is plural, it doesn't get an apostrophe. And I can't think of a language where this isn't true, so I don't know why it confuses people so much. Bagels Plus. There are multiple bagels, plus more! The "more" is implied, and since it's the name of a store that's fine. We are not talking about an anthropomorphic bagel who owns a plus sign and doesn't like to share it.

A close runner up is the quotation mark. Why do people feel the need to put things in quotes that don't belong there? Is it for emphasis? Use italics, underlining, bold, a different font, asterisks if you must, but why quotes?? I recently looked at a packet of Emergen-C and realized with horror that it contains Twelve times the "Vitamin C" and 16% of the calories of orange juice. So, what, it's fake vitamin C? It's something else you're just calling vitamin C? The hell?

One more that requires no explanation: Get your homonyms straight. There, their, they're. Your, you're. Too, two, to. Hear, Here. Its, it's (damn that apostrophe). These are words most of us learned in first grade. If you're a native speaker, there's really no excuse.

Lastly (for today), I have this bizarre problem with redundant acronyms. Or rather, people who use perfectly good acronyms and then make them redundant by adding words that are already there. For example: The M in ATM stands for machine. So when you say "ATM Machine," I think you sound really stupid. Come on, say it with me. "Automated Teller Machine Machine." See, it's dumb. The same goes for PIN Number, ISBN Number, UPC Code, and many more. This is a silly thing to get worked up about. My boyfriend hates when I correct him, and I've had to learn to get used to "ATM Machine" as it's printed on signs in the window of almost every bodega in the city.

I'm not sure how I got this way, but I feel pretty safe in blaming my mother.

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