A few things that bug me

When I was blogging on the old Xanga, I developed a reputation as a grammar Nazi. I mellowed with the years as I realized that not all mistakes needed to be pointed out. But there are still things that I see that drive me up the wall, from people who don’t know the conventions of English spelling.

For instance, they write “Imma” as slang for “I’m going to,” not realizing that a double M makes the first vowel a short I like in “him”. They should write “Imo” or “Ima” (as in “Imo bust yo haid”). If they want to appear erudite, they could put an apostrophe in an appropriate place: “I’mo”; or as many as three if they’re willing to risk looking stupid: “I’m’o’.”

Or they extend words (in writing) by repeating the last letter no matter what it is: “Whatttttttttttt?” You can’t say “Whatttttttttttt” unless you stutter the end of words, which even serious stutterers don’t do. I was taught in gradeschool that you had to extend the vowel: “Whaaaaaaat?” A nasal consonant can also be extended: “I don’t thiiiiinnnnnnnnk sooooo…”

Or they use apostrophes where they don’t make sense: “See ya’.” No point in the apostrophe there, because nothing has been removed. It’s a simple vowel replacement and should be written “ya” or “yuh”.

What do they teach in school these days, if they aren’t teaching this stuff?


22 thoughts on “A few things that bug me

  1. It could be argued that they don’t teach anything in (US) schools these days, and instead just train children to memorize test answers.

    One of my clients is about 30 years old and though it’s abundantly clear that she’s very intelligent her communication skills are equivalent to those possessed by junior high school kids back when I was one of them myself. It’s not that her vocabulary is limited, but that her grammar skills are lacking. What makes me craziest of all in communication with her is that she doesn’t seem to recognize, so doesn’t try to resolve, ambiguity. I guess that what makes her craziest of all in communication with me is that I quite often seek clarification of things that appear to her to be simple and obvious. 😀

  2. g. says:

    Agh, that “whatttt” thing drives me insane, too. Extend your vowels, people. I’m also annoyed by the contraction of “probably” as “prolly.” Shouldn’t it be “prob’ly?”
    But I’ll admit I give a pass to “imma” because the actual pronunciation is so incredibly soft in the “i” it’s almost an “ah.” There’s an argument to be made. And in print “IMO” means “in my opinion.” With the rampant lack of capitalization, things could get confusing. You know, even at its best, English is a dog’s breakfast. Some conventions are up for interpretation.
    What does drive me batty is when people try to class up their word slurs and you realize they have no idea what the actual words are–as evidenced by phrases like “should of.” *cringes* Our damn Mayor says stuff like that; that’s when I fear we’re losing the battle.

    • “Prolly” doesn’t bother me because it harks back to Walt Kelly’s Pogo. I don’t use acronyms for expressions so it didn’t occur to me to worry about confusion with IMO. But I insist that the I of “Imma” would not be pronounced “ah” or “uh” under any rule of English orthography. They ought to write it Ama, which of course would cause serious confusion for Spanish speakers to whom it means “loves” or part of the expression for “housewife”.

      You should of prolly never elected that mayor.

      30 years ago I was working on a research project in Miami. One of my colleagues wrote the foreword to the handbook we created, and misspelled “predominantly” three different ways.

  3. HA! I am fighting the urge to leave a comment using all of these things that bug you. 😀 😉

    When I use words like “gonna'”, etc., I am just doing it for fun. As I am a stellar speller! (Say that 3 times fast! 😀 )

    I even spell out words and phrases in texting. But, I don’t Twitter, so I don’t worry about the # of words that can be used. I wonder if all of these tech forms of communication has hurt the written communication skills of younger people?

    Good post!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    • I don’t think today’s young people are that much less eloquent than those of previous generations. When I was an Assistant Instructor in grad school and had to grade papers turned in by my students, there were always plenty of things to roll my eyes at (at which to roll my eyes?). And there’s a huge population of brilliant nerds in our country, many of whom do write and speak well. But I’m very sad that schools don’t teach phonics or anything else that would improve spelling or relate spelling to pronunciation. :0 🙂 😉 😦

  4. Just one paragraph of today’s review of a one-man show in LA by Christopher Plummer:

    “Christopher Plummer allows himself a single curmudgeonly moment during his mesmerizing solo show A Word or Two. Toward the end of the 80-minute performance, he frets that “In a Twitter world … I fear great language is in danger of extinction.”

  5. I’ve groused about the “then/than” outrage, which I see almost every day because I tend to read the comments sections that follow articles. Ugh. There is a commercial for KFC now in which a woman admits that she now knows that it’s a “chest of drawers,” not “chester drawers.” Millions of people are seeing that and saying, “Whaaaaat?”

  6. We used to call these errors boners.
    Example: “Michelle was laying in bed . .. .” (laying whom?)
    Example: “I had a peak under her dress . . .” (you raped her?)

    But we can’t talk about boners any more without, I suppose, an accompanying paragraph on etymology. It’s a fun word though.

    The reality is that texting and Twitter are crowding out good writing. I regret it, you regret it, but even the best reporter finds he must spend half his time scanning Twitter. There is no turning back.

  7. I’m pretty sure I commonly use the spelling I’ma, and I only use it in text messages. I’ll extend multiple letters to add emphasis, including unpronounceable consonants, but I do it on purpose 😛

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