Scot's Manuel of Stile 4 the Amerrikin Langwich

I really don't want to be Andy Rooney, but....

Catalogs are among my favorite W.C. (look that up, young ones!) reading, especially around the holidays.

I picked up the Guitar Center catalog and noticed it said:
Attn: Postmaster

A few givens:
• I qualify to be an old guy: 55.5 years of age
• I was educated on the east coast, many years ago
• I make my living (which sometimes pays the bills!) as an editor and writer

But I try to keep out of people's faces when they make language errors—I will rarely correct anyone in everyday life. I also realize that today's communications—texts, email—and a younger generation and, ohmigosh, we are just all so busy, have transformed the language from English to high-tech American. Acronyms, abbreviations... that's one thing. And then there are spellcheckers which, apparently, have caused everyone to just simply take a hands-off approach to spelling and grammar.

But when did things deteriorate so much? I am really asking this of teachers, of students, of friends. What happened? I don't really think—to be politically incorrect—it's teachers' salaries. Educators have been underpaid since I was a child... and classroom sizes where I grew up exceeded 30 students. Are teachers and parents too busy to pay attention?

I am often surprised and aghast at some of the online postings... Craig's List, Facebook, local dating sites when I have looked in to them from time to time. Is it simply a matter that people don't care any more? Things used to say "Made with American Pride," but I don't think pride is a word I'd use much anymore around these parts. It's just basically "get 'er done!"

I haven't spoken with very many British people lately, but I imagine they must look at American literacy and linguistics as a completely different language. It truly has become the American language.

So I have a suggestion, since obviously our public and private institutions aren't getting any better. Like most else in this country, we just need to lower our standards so the language conforms to reality. Let's start with:
• Get rid of their/they're/there. I'd say about 25 percent of people online use these correctly. We may as well just make it one word: Thar. While we're at it, we should just standardize homophones (a word I didn't even know). To, too, two. Oh, man, who has the time to figure out which one 2 use? Just make it 2. And fore, four, etc. 4 will suffice. Less wear and tear on the thumbs we type with.
• Does anyone under the age of, say, 35 know the difference between then and than? Even I'm beginning to forget! May as well just banish than.
• One of America's finest devices is the apostrophe. So, screw it, let's use it for plural's (sic!) too. Everyone seems 2. "There are 2 Dog's in my Yard."
• Which brings us to capitalization. So many rules! Even I have to refer to the Chicago Manual of Style in my daily work to figure it out sometimes. So why not make it an easy rule, which seems to be what most people use anyway. If it's important to you, capitalize it! I actually giggle when I read emails or posts from friends because their capitalizations give me a window into their mind. "I Hope to see You soon at your House or Mine. We can have Dinner and maybe some Wine but let's not talk about Marriage because you know I have an Inversion to it." I just sort of made that up (including inversion)--and it does NOT reflect on any current friends, but you get the gist. However, there should be some hard and fast rules: God must always be capitalized, and if not, you're an athiest. America, too, or you're a communist. All these things are just Common Cents. ;)

I suspect this will be continued but, really, why has the language deteriorated so much in the last 25 years? In fact, maybe we should just give up writing and record everything by voicemail!

Press 1 if you want to record a message and avoid all human interaction whatsoever.

Posted: Mon - November 21, 2011 at 01:33 PM