Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Grammar Trauma

I know I have mentioned this in previous posts, but I seriously have issues with bad grammar. Now, I would like to clarify that while I have a sort of automatic eye-rolling reflex when I hear bad grammar from the average citizen, I'm seriously considering suing someone for mental anguish when I see it in publications that are supposed to be staffed by professionals. You know that moment in the movie Ratatouille when Linguini screams repeatedly in wordless horror and revulsion after seeing all those little bite marks on his body? Yeah, that's me with this issue.

Case in point: I was reading in my local newspaper a lovely, heart-warming little article about the YMCA and how much it has helped the youth, two young men in particular. In said article a woman who works for the YMCA was quoted as having said something fond about one of the boys in a rather wry tone. So what's the problem, you ask? The writer, who henceforth may never be called such again, used the word RYE. RYE!!!!! No, no, no!!!

Rye is a grain!! It is used to create flour, from whence we then create crackers and bread. It is not an expression of any emotional content or facial movement. It's a NOUN!! Not an adjective. This so very wrong on such a fundamental level. The people whose PROFESSION it is to create images with words need to have enough of a grasp of the language they're writing in to not make it sound like the woman they're quoting is speaking with her mouth full of a deli sandwich!!!!!

There are supposed to be lines of defense to keep this sort of travesty from happening. People with titles like Proofreader and Editor are supposed to be ever on guard, lest their publication be made to look like the literary don't column with that little black strip that's meant to protect their identity.

I see this problem increasing at an alarming rate. I just read an article on MSN today about tricks that make your make-up last longer during the day. The author, who is clearly an expert in make-up and equally clearly did not do well in the language section of his SAT's, described a particular make-up brush as an AFFECTIVE tool. GAHHHH!!! Affective refers to the causing of emotion. Outside of a few very devoted make-up artists, I can't really see that term applying to a make-up brush. Effective, on the other hand, refers to producing an intended effect. Can you see how using the wrong word can create a completely different meaning than was intended? No wonder people think Americans are stupid. We can't even use our own language correctly! Homonyms only sound the same. They have completely different meanings and it really does matter which one you use when you're writing. You can get away with it when you're speaking, but one should really know what one is actually saying.

I can hear y'all out there telling me to just chill. It's not that big a deal, and I could not agree less. I'll share with you something that most people don't think about. The fall of every great civilization was preceded by the corruption of their language. I like my civilization. I have no desire to see it fall nor to contribute to said fall in any way. Therefore I will force my children to speak correctly and campaign for other people, namely those whose job it is, to at least TRY. 'Cause it matters. It really does.