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Friday, June 29, 2012

Me And Homer Of-Ten Did Good

All right. I can't stand it anymore. Just. Can't. Stand. It. The time for an English lesson has come.

Let's begin with a simple phrase, one describing people going to the store. Let's say you're going to the store with a fellow named Homer. The correct way to explain that you and Homer have gone to the store is as follows:

"Homer and I went to the store."

You do not say "Homer and me went to the store," and you most certainly do NOT say "Me and Homer went to the store." The way you know you don't say this is a lesson you allegedly learned during basic grade school English. When you say "Homer and I went to the store," if you remove "Homer and" you come up with "I went to the store." As uneducated as you may be or sound, and unless you're Tonto, it's unlikely you would announce "Me went to the store." You would say, "I went to the store" wouldn't you? Now put "Homer and" back, and voila! "Homer and I went to the store."

I spoke with someone recently who said "Me and Eddie went downtown." Unable to stop myself in that my recently departed and beloved English teacher has evidently entered my body, I corrected her. "No," I hissed, "EDDIE AND I went downtown." She argued with me and said "That's wrong! I was driving!! So it's 'Me and Eddie went downtown.'" I was flabbergasted and uncharacteristically speechless. People using horrendous English are now coming up with a rationale -- however wacky -- to do so. My eyes rattled. My skin prickled. I walked away.

Here's another one: the word OFTEN. Dictionary.com lists these as acceptable pronunciations: aw-fuhn, of-uhn, awf-tuhn. Yes, awf-Tuhn is one of the options, and apparently I was asleep or traveling or something when THAT happened. From the minute I entered an English class with saddle shoes and a book bag, I was taught that "often" is pronounced with the "T" silent. Aw-fuhn. And furthermore, most who use a dictionary agree that the first and/or second pronunciation options are those preferred. Often. The "T" is silent, people, dictionary.com's third pronunciation option be damned!  

Finally, another of my very large pet peeves: Good versus Well. You look good. You do well. You don't look well (unless you've been sick), and you don't do good. Really simple (not real simple).

I understand that language evolves, but the current and astounding slaughter of the English language is simply unacceptable. I have this dreadful image of people from other countries watching the dreck that permeates American television and thinking we're all as stupid as those who are being filmed on reality and talk shows. I heard someone the other night on Bravo say a person was acting like "Heckel and Jyde." Thank god I was in bed or I would have fallen off the chair. Is ANYBODY teaching the English language anymore? Not to mention literature.

My last comment on this subject: I was speaking with a frustrated teacher over the weekend and she suggested we just go ahead and start omitting words entirely to make things easier for the Me And Homers and the OfTENs and the I Did Goods. "Instead of saying, 'My children are exemplary students,'" she said, "'why don't we just say 'Children! Students! Awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome!'"

My only solace is that I'm not alone in mourning the death of our beautiful language.

7 comments:

ghost said...

According to Random House, it was pronounced of-Ten until the 17th century. But of course only people living in the 17th century viewed the t-drop as a degradation of their "beautiful language". Do you think we should pronounce oft "off", or do you think we should dispense with contractions entirely? If you think we SHOULD, you will have to sweep your "offen" pronunciation off the table, as it was derived from a contraction. "offen" is the lazy way of saying often, as "can't" is the lazy way of saying cannot. Rest assured it will lose its apostrophe soon enough. As for omitting words entirely, it sounds fun to me!

aitchpop said...

Absolutely HARRIBLE what's hap'nin'. A lot of the problems seem to arise on Long Island and in "Joisey". Dreadful, irksome, and truly eyeball jittering stuff. No wonder people are throwing clots.

Kathleen Yasas said...

Dear Ghost: How is often derived from a contraction? And "offen" is not the lazy way of saying often. Offen is the correct pronunciation here in the 21st century.

ghost said...

I did not say often was derived from a contraction, I said your pronunciation of it was. As in of'en. There are several correct pronunciations of often, even in the 21st century. Irksome to you does not equal wrong. You're eyeballs may jitter and your teeth may peel, but these are not always signs that you are correct.

Anonymous said...

phortunately, gost, we don't spell everything phonetically nor do we spell things weirdly all the time. Just sometimes. You can call me Phyti (and pronounce it FISH!) Nonetheless, proper grammar and pronunciation are both important unless of course, you are a promoter of Ebonics, which will isolate groups unto themselves and further divide our population into the educated and the uneducated (thereby unemployable) castes.

Anonymous said...

Oh...now African American Vernacular English is a problem for you? Everyone should speak exactly as you do, and the language should freeze into a model of your preference? Alternate pronunciations do not appear in dictionaries as examples of how NOT to pronounce words.

Anonymous said...

You don't need to have been sick to "look well".

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum