Ceci n’est pas un Lego

One does not play with their Legos. One plays with their Lego. An individual piece of Lego is known as a brick, not a Lego. If Lego is not the singular form, Legos cannot be the plural.

One does not go golfing, one plays golf or one goes to play golf. Just as one does not soccer; nor does one go soccering, or hockeying, or billiarding, or baseballing, etc. (Bowling and rowing are the exceptions here.)

Phrases such as “…but it’s concerning to me.” remind me of Dubya’s term (the good ole days of top-notch politico-linguistic comedy. – Remember “nucular”? ) Many words are being ‘verbified’ in this way, and it is a source of great concern to me. (Ahhhhh.) Or even better, “…and it is, to me, a source of great concern.” (Oooohhhh baby! Way to finish strong.)

Many other mis-uses of words can be found, and they take many forms. Some words have come to mean something completely different.

Safety has come to mean security, guns has come to mean violence, education has come to mean schooling, global warming has come to mean CO2, pro-Russian has come to mean Russian, anti-Zionism has come to mean anti-Semitism, and if you’re an economist, bad has come to mean good, and vice-versa. George Orwell had something to say about this.

Saying “person that” instead of “person who,” pronouncing ‘divisive’ [/dəˈvissiv/] as ‘device-ive’ [/dəˈvīsiv/] and having to mis-spell words in order to find results in a search engine is no way to maintain a means of communication. And what’s with not capitalizing the letter i when referring to oneself? Is that supposed to be cute?

The conflation of words is another thorn in my saddle. Irrespective is a word as is regardless. Irregardless is not.

Tomāto, tomăto, you might say, and who hasn’t heard older people gripe about the way teens express themselves? It’s almost like with music, when Dad says, “That’s not music. Why, in my day…” Who hasn’t heard that? But it isn’t quite the same thing. Obfuscation of lyrics or text can be beneficial to the privacy (on a parental level) of young people in a highly un-private world; but this isn’t about literary style, or even willful subterfuge, it’s about engineered ignorance.

The issue surely stems from the fact that people simply do not read very much (other than their telephones, ironically enough.) Not that people were ever anything but reluctant readers, but before radio, television, and YouTube, there was nothing but the newspaper, books, and telegrams. People had to read and so ended up getting quite good at it. As a consequence, they ended up getting quite good at writing, too. Now, speed supplants courtesy, curtness sits in for eloquence, and wit has largely been replaced by vulgarity. In order to increase the rate of literacy, it seems we have lowered the bar. This seems to be a common theme in public education these days.

But the one thing that bothers me more than anything else is something that is becoming more and more common on TV. Saying ‘were being’ or ‘were having’ instead of saying ‘were’ or ‘had’ has got to stop. Everyone didn’t all get stupid at the same time, did they? What better way to distort history than to ruin the past tense.

Language has always evolved and always will. New words will be added and old ones will fall out of favour. People will make honnest misstakes, and different conventions will survive. Isn’t it already complicated enough?

Having said all that, the confusion between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ or ‘imply’ and ‘infer’ may, perhaps, be excused; but not knowing the difference between ‘write’, ‘right’, and ‘rite’; ‘there’, ‘their’, and ‘they’re’; or the difference between ‘to’ and ‘too’ should be cause for immediate dismissal.

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