Wednesday, 7 July 2010

What is it with swum and swam?
Sunk and sank?
I just read in Meanjin (respected literary journal for writers and those interested in writing) a "sunk" when a "sank" was called for.
Why can't people — why aren't people taught to — differentiate between the simple past tense (I swam the Channel) and the past participle (I have swum the Channel)? The boat sank and the boat has sunk?
Is it so effing difficult?
Is the past participle on its way out? Do kids get taught about past participles? I often read "showed" when "shown" is needed.

:: And why do some young people use "then" when they mean "than"? Do they actually know there is a word, "than"? Do they get taught this?
Don't get me started on "your" and "you're", "its" and "it's" (I was seven when my teacher taught us about this — it IS NOT HARD), "lie" and "lay", and in the US, the almost universal use of "insure" when they mean "ensure".
I am in them.

:: And, between you and I*, what about the almost consistently incorrect use of the subject pronoun when the direct object pronoun is called for? Could you explain this to my readers and I*?
Do people think the word "me" is rude, or disrespectful, or informal? WTF is it?
Is is the Queen's fault? And she's the mon-uch, not the mon-ahk.

:: What do broadcasters, TV reporters, radio news people mean by as-AH-lum seekers?
And WTF is p-AH-sta? The Italian staple I know does not rhyme with master or faster. Grrrr.

:: And note to TV and radio journos - where TF are Wesperance and Weast Timor? As in: "Asahlum seekers will be sent to Weast Timor instead of being allowed to disembark in Ausraya."
And in: "The premier will fly to Wesperance."

:: Phew. I do feel a lot better now. I can get showered, get dressed, and go to work and deal with some of the above in a proper, grown-up fashion.
Thank you.

:: But I have to tell you: I also just saw on the morning news show that one of the humbler, soccer-playing nations has discovered an octopus that can predict the scores of soccer games. Finally! A way to make the game slightly interesting!

* My point, exactly!


Suse said...

There is a big campaign from PETA to get that octopus released back to the wild and free him from the tyranny of soccer mad punters.

My favourite rant regarding pronunciation is against aRISTocrat instead of Aristocrat.

Also specialty instead of speciality.

Adaption in place of adaptation.

HostELLE instead of HOSTel.

REEsearch instead of reSEARCH.

EElaine instead of eLAINE.

Hmm, apparently I have a few rants after all.

Lesley said...

Ooooh - and FI-nance instead of the (correct and much more elegant) f'nance ...

Ulla said...

I love you for this rant! I'm not alone with such thoughts, even when my rant is about such uses of the Finnish language. The misuse of English is so widespread that I'm often having second thoughts about what I think is correct. Thank you for ensuring me that this subject is as important to you as it is to me.

Janice said...

I say Pah-sta :D

One word I hate is Agreeance (hissy fit)

It's Agreement

Anonymous said...

How about direct instead of directly? "Order direct from the manufacturer". It an adverb - giving more information to the verb. It should end with LY.

Lesley said...

Ulla: Good for you! Keep at it - our languages are so under-valued, and must be allowed to evolve rather than mutate into deformity!
Your Finnish is all the more precious because it's so less common.

Janice: Pahsta - pah! Pasta fantastica! And agreeance is so ghastly, you are right. It's so middle-management-chip-on-my-shoulder-cos- I'll-never-make-it-to-the-boardroom.

Peppermint: And and and - what about alternate when alternative is meant? Huh?

Rattling On said...

A woman after my own heart. All your examples are offensive enough, but over here it's the apostrophe that seems to cause so much trouble. I wrote a post on it ( ) ages ago...but no-one seemed to get it!

Laura Jane said...

Rant away my dear, you are in good company.

But I will take issue with the pronunciation of pasta. I am a pah-sta girl. That is the pronunciation I expect from the Italian, where the 'a' is pronounce 'ah'.

Shall we agree to disagree?

Lesley said...

No, Laura - not at all!
In Italian, the a in pasta is pronounced flat, as in our English word man.
E basta!
In other words, like Italiano itself, the a is pronoounced -ah-.

Jennifer said...

My own pet peeve: no one seems to know "plural possessive before a gerund" anymore.

I think the "than" vs. "then" bit has to do with lazy pronunciation, which in turn leads to misspelling because these folks are spelling it the way they are hearing it.

Lesley said...

Jen: So few people have ever heard of a gerund, or understand what it is, let alone comprehending the possessive + gerund rule!
And yet, as with so much of our language's refined, pared-back grammar, there is a simple logic at work.
I go on about it at work so much that my gerunds and I have become an office joke.

Lesley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

Spluttering here, Les! Swum, sunk, CHEESES!
A girl like I - or perhaps I should say, a girl like MYSELF - is constantly wincing. Why, just this week I spotted the abomination "to who"! I knew it was coming; just couldn't quit my reading habit soon enough to avoid it.
But, hey, I'm with Laura: pahsta!

Prudence says said...

May one add one? The use of myself, when one is either frightened or deeply unsure if one should use me or I. Harrumph!