Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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Geek out

Well, after I misspelled hail yesterday, I thought it was pretty ironic that that same post mentions grammar pet peeves. Who am I to talk about grammar pet peeves when I can't even get the right spelling of hail? I can claim ignorance--I know the difference between their, they're, and there; and I know the difference between your and you're (haha! I almost spelled it "you'er"); but hail versus hale is just not something that comes up a lot. And since they're both correct spellings, how was I to know I was wrong?

Anyway, it all sort of leads into my thoughts about grammar pet peeves, so it kind of works out. See, I was thinking about grammar pet peeves, because I know everybody has them, and a lot of the time when they mention them, and especially when they get upset about them, I tend to think, "Dude, calm down. It's not a big deal." And despite that, there are some grammar errors that make me want to punch people. So I was trying to figure out what it was about them that upsets me, and I think I figured it out.

First of all, most of the problems are probably more frequent in translation than in regular writing/speech, so, as people who deal in translations and watch a lot of anime, we see them more frequently than we see, for example, an incorrect choice of you're/your. I think part of that stems from the fact that once a translator has translated some dialogue, everybody down the line has to take their word for it that the person said that, and if they change something, they might be altering the meaning. But there's a lot more to it, and that's a whole other rant.

But most importantly, it seems to me that the common grammar mistakes that make us most upset are the ones that involve trying to sound Smart. For example, we have no problem whatsoever with using "you might could" instead of "maybe you could" or "you might be able to." (Apparently that's a Southern thing, which we had no idea of until we used it in a translation and the letterer wanted to make sure the character was using incorrect grammar or a dialect (he was using incorrect grammar).) We also have no problem with verbifying nouns, or making up nonexistent words to suit our purposes (as illustrated by the use of the word "verbify").

The first thing we have problems with is using "XXX and I" as the object of a sentence. If the sentence would use "me" had you been alone, it still uses "me" when you're not alone (unless you say "us," and then "me" would be a little redundant). I remember years and years and years ago, there was a comic in the paper where somebody asked his friend something like, "You wanna go play football with me and Tom?" and someone inside the house shouts, "That's 'Tom and I'!"

I don't remember the punchline (I think that might have been it, because back then, hopefully people still realized that it should have been "Tom and me." "me and Tom" is still kind of correct, but a little self-centered), but I remember that comic. And the point is that back then, people were correcting other people's usage to the point that it made it into the funnies. And now, it's been over-corrected so many times that people are using "I" incorrectly all over the place, and nobody bothers to correct that, because everybody has been corrected so many times that they think incorrect is correct.

The second grammar pet peeve of ours that we've been coming across more frequently is "step foot." The term is "set foot," as in "to set your foot upon a certain area of land." You can't step a foot, because step is not a transitive verb. You can step on a foot, but that's a whole other problem. And you still need to do it with an adverbial prepositional phrase.

And we've only seen this in contexts where people are trying to talk fancy (fancily (as you can see, we also don't have any problems with using adjectives incorrectly instead of adverbs)). And if you're trying to talk fancy, chances are you're either trying to sound Smart, or you're translating something. Or I guess you could be writing something creatively (see that time, I had to use the adverb, because the adjective would have had a different nuance). But the point is, if you're using it, you probably want your language to sound nice, in which case, you really ought to check to make sure you're using it correctly (says the girl who can't spell hail right).

And finally, is "could care less." People aren't always trying to sound smart when they say this, but they are almost always being at least a little jerky. Although to be honest, when we hear this in conversation, we tend to be more amused than annoyed, and here's why. "Could care less" is a phrase used to indicate a level of caring, and the conversation goes like this:

"About that thing we were tentatively planning--we just realized it conflicts with the church activity."
"I could care less about the church activity."
"You could care less? So you do care!"
*pause* *eye roll* "I could not care less."

Because if it's possible for you to care less about something, that means that you do care some. On the other hand, if it's not possible for you to care less, that means your caring is at the lowest possible level. But on the other other hand (there's two of us here; we can have up to four hands), maybe you're very passionate about something, and caring less about it would kill you or something. For example, I would probably have to be dead inside to care less about Disneyland than I do. But that's just complicating things, especially since we have to get three hands involved.

And that's our big geek-out session/rant about grammar. Tadah!

Today I'm thankful for our friends driving us home from church despite their destination being in the opposite direction this week, having a lovely time playing Disney Apples to Apples with family last night, the word "adverbial" (it's fun to say), still having Werther's chocolate to try out, and the lovely lessons we had in church today.
Tags: language geekiness

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