Loving English Language Anguish

Warning!  If you don’t care, avoid this space!

How many times have you winced when you’ve heard a sentence such as “A lot of voters are staying at home.”, or “A range of choices are before us.”, or “For years my brother has went to that doctor.”, or “Everyday he lays down at three o’clock.”, or “I can’t believe he wouldn’t talk to you and I.”, or “He should have had a double, but he only made it to first.”, or “The Bank of America just raised their rates.”?

If we want to be good communicators as speakers or as writers, we have to care about the errors in these sentences.  The problem is, in our society today, we don’t have permission to care publicly.  Oh, we can care if we must, but we’d best keep our caring to ourselves.  Suggesting a “re-write”, correcting someone’s grammar is not socially acceptable.  At a minimum it will cause eyes to roll.  At worst, it may cost you a friend.

Somewhere along the line, many of us stopped caring.  The news media, advertising, even edited publications are full of sometimes glaring grammatical errors.  This is a shame.  Shouldn’t we be proud of speaking our language well, being knowledgeable of its structure and preserving its beauty?  Undoubtedly, some prefer to avoid the subject all together.  Some will tell us to “get a life”.

Not all societies are like ours.  I understand the French can be quite persnickety about their language.  In Mexico, if you butcher a sentence, the perceptive listener will gently repeat it for you correctly.  What has happened to us?  Why is it that, too often, those who have learned English as their second language speak it better than we “natives”?  Common mistakes are now so rampant that we no longer hear them and, in some cases, hearing the sentence spoken correctly sounds wrong!  Try this one on a friend:  “A lot of voters is staying at home.”  You will likely get a raised eyebrow.  I grant it is an awkward fix but it is correct.  A better fix is “Lots of voters are staying at home.”

We know that languages change over time.  We know that informal speaking is different from formal writing; still, we are currently inundated with “unforced errors”.  Our slovenly speaking habits are bleeding into our formal writing.  It is fair to ask, as a society,  are we forgetting what is correct English?  Query for the week:  What is correct, “He would speak to whomever would listen” or “He would speak to whoever would listen”?

So, if you don’t care that much about correct English, you’re probably not going to want to visit this site too much.  For those who do care about preserving the structure and logic of our beautiful language, this is your place to put it out there!  Let’s talk about what we hear and read as we journey on the expressway of modern communications.  Let’s examine the “errata” without fear or doubting.  This is the place for those who care not only to vent but highlight common errors, question why, challenge ourselves to improve, enjoy a newfound commitment to our language.

And please note, I don’t pretend to be an expert.  We will all be learning together….  I’m more like a facilitator.