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The Demise Of Our Beautiful English Language

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The Demise Of Our Beautiful English Language

By Yvonne Sam
Contributing Columnist

Yvonne Sam -- newAs a logical, traditional common-sense person — not to mention a teacher of English — I have always appreciated plain speech and clear thoughts, although not necessarily in that order.

This is the underlying reason why I find myself frequently annoyed at the demise of the English language, both in how it is written and how it is spoken. The English language is in serious and dire need of being policed.

I am fully aware that I should not waste any thought, or care about, the English language, especially since it is nothing more than a relic of a crumbling imperialistic White supremacy mindset.

I also know that language is an ever-evolving process, constantly shifting and changing, but language changes usually happen gradually, and over time, not in a nano-second.

It is difficult to ingest, let alone digest, when the teeny-boppers and hipsters do it, but when it seeps into mainstream culture, then the rest of us are forced to listen to the rubbish at every turn.

I am replete with examples, and I will commence with the little annoyances first, and then on to the cringe-worthy words and phrases.

What about the pasta and cheese dish, commonly known and referred to as, “mac and cheese”.

If you are wondering what could possibly be wrong, then my guess is that you were born, no further back than about 40 years ago, when everybody called it macaroni and cheese, even restaurants and television commercials called it macaroni and cheese. And now nobody does.

Is there, or was there, a problem with using the pasta’s full name? And if we are going to shorten it, then why not abbreviate both of the ingredients? Call it “mac and che.”

Another silly food abbreviation that readily comes to mind is, “Slaw”. Is it really difficult to say “coleslaw”. Sorry, permit me to retract the question, as seemingly it is, because everyone now just says, “slaw.” “Would you like a side of slaw with that?”

The term “coleslaw” arose in the 18th century as an Anglicization of the Dutch term “koolsla” (“kool” in Dutch sounds like “cole”) meaning “cabbage salad”. Have we stopped saying “coleslaw” on account of plain indolence or fear of cultural appropriation?

Another pet peeve is when people say “My bad!” Bad is an adjective, what they mean is “mistake”. It drives me crazy!

So many times a word will be altered, or the pronunciation will change, because so many have mispronounced it so much that it becomes acceptable, if I dare say so.

For example, “Conversate”. For as long as memory and cognition allows, if you were having a talk with someone you were “conversing”. Not anymore. Now you are “conversating.” No kidding, but I have heard this many times.

When out with friends and having a really good time, like laughing and telling stories and just enjoying yourselves, if asked about it later you might say “we had so much fun!”

Well, you might say so, if you grew up learning proper syntax. However, if you are like most young people today, you will most likely say, “It was so fun!” — immediately turning what once was a noun into an adjective.

The American journalist, William Safire, who was known for his fiercely-opinionated conservative columns for The New York Times, following the trend of “orientate” and other words that ate up our brains, coined the word “commentate”, which meant “to make noises like a commentator.

Comment means saying something about something. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that a person, who comments, is a commentator, then someone else got the bright idea that what a commentator does is commentate.

Random House Dictionary however, comments that commentate is considered jargon. whatis.techtarget.com/feature/Would-you-care-to-commentate-or-will-commenting-do

Another pet peeve is when people say “My bad!” Bad is an adjective, what they mean is “mistake”. It drives me crazy! I’ve even seen it on TV and in movies. Why use “coronate” instead of “crown”.

At the very least, if you use correct language your home will never be burglarized, although it might be burgled. How about the newest journalese, “gifted” for “gave” and “helmed” for “led”

Per the abbreviations: what’s up has become s’up? But I can still sup with a person on occasion!

Regrettably, the worse part of these improper word uses is, once they become the conversational norm, ultimately, they become the written norm and, finally, they will be considered proper grammar.

Plainly stated, proper grammar is eventually dictated by ignorant morons! And that thought is just not so fun!

Aleuta……the struggle continues.

Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is the Chair of the Rights and Freedom Committee at the Black Community Resource Centre. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.

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