I Am The Grammarian About Whom Your Mother Warned.


mytextlife@twitter re: pet hates @johncleese.com: People who use the word “irregardless” then get angry if you ask them if the GED was hard.

Alright, so I’ll admit it; I’m a bit of a snob. At least when it comes to language. I am not speaking of persons denied access to higher education who are simply handicapped by a limited vocabulary. I am speaking of highly educated professionals who have no excuse. Well, them and my ex-husband.

Don’t misunderstand, I was not born with a silver thesaurus in my crib. Quite the contrary. My siblings and I grew up hardscrabble. My grandfather was a farmer, my grandmother a housewife. My mother raised four children completely on her own, often times working two and three jobs at once.

However, Mom is a reader and she passed that gift to her children. When we were ten and six respectively, mom read my brother and me Where The Red Fern Grows; a charming coming of age tale written by a man who obviously has anger issues with man’s best friend, as he killed every last dog in the book.

Mom would read a chapter; my brother and I sobbing openly as yet another furry friend got bumped off (a fact my brother denies to this day.) Mom would dry our tears, give us an ice cream cone and the next day we would be back begging for more (little masochists we were.)

This love for reading quickly grew into a love of language. And, as with any love, one becomes angry when it is disrespected. Example:

(local news anchor who shall remained unnamed as I am sure she has been humiliated enough already): And today in sheerie lank a…

Me: I’m sorry, did she just say “sheerie lank a”?

My poor husband: Uh oh.

Me: No, seriously is that what she just said?

Him, trying to ease out of the room: Um, yeah. Why?

Me: The word is SHRA-lon-ka

Him: Are you sure?

Me: Yes

(second anchor appears on screen: Thank you _________, for more on
Sheerie Lank a go to our website…..

Me: No he didn’t.

Husband: Uh oh.

It’s not that I expect everyone to know how to pronounce Sri Lanka, or even to know where it is. I do, however, think that if you are a professional newscaster someone, somewhere, would have told you how to pronounce the name of the city in the lead story.

I imagine I acquired my language snobbery from my mother whose greatest pet peeve, (even greater than white shoes with black pantyhose, although that is a close second) is the use of the term “hot water heater”. Every time she would hear it, she would roll her eyes, sigh and and say, “If it were hot, it would not need to be heated, now would it?” We figured out pretty quickly not to use that phrase. And sher-bert? Sher-bert would get you grounded.

When other kids where playing Twister and LIFE, we were playing “Dictionary Tag”. Seriously. We would all gather in the living room and open the dictionary. We would then search Webster’s for a word no one else knew the meaning of (yes, that is a dangling participle -I am not a grammar snob, well okay, yes I am but hey, no one’s perfect). Personal favorite? Zygote; (a fetus from conception to two weeks).

And yet, even with this innate language snobbery, I manage to marry quite possibly the biggest idiot ever born to two otherwise normal human beings. He had the irritating habit of only listening to about half of what I said. I imagine this is a normal percentage rate for married couples however Rick (who gives a whole new meaning to the term “Rick-rolled”) also liked to pick up random words he had heard me use and drop them into conversation. Of course he never bothered to learn what the words actually meant. Thus it was pretty common that I would be standing beside him, stunned, as he told the store clerk she was being ostentatious or when he asked his best friend if he had ever masticated in public.

Now one idiot is bad enough. Get two of them together and what you get is complete verbal homicide.

For a short time Rick and I worked for the same company: a tire store run by a suave old drunk with a third grade education and a nasty temper. One day, after a particularly long visit with Jack Daniels my boss made me cry. Over what, I don’t recall. What I do recall is Rick’s angry response:

Mr. O, you need to leave her alone! You’re just being facetious.

Fa- what the hell did you just call me?

Facetious – look it up, it’s under “V”!

At which point Rick was fired and I was given the rest of the day off with pay, (presumably allowing Mr. O private time with the dictionary I kept on my desk, perusing the “V” section for facetious.)

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~ by D.L. Graves on March 1, 2009.

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