published Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Fine points of grammar — and more letters to the editors

Fine points of grammar

I can't stand to hear somebody say: "I'm good." I told the girl at the bank today: What if you weren't doing good -- would you say: "I'm bad?" Where does this junk come from?

If my English teachers heard me talk English like that, they would run me out of town. We had some good teachers at East Ridge. Mrs. Eva Counts, Mr. Patrick O'Shee, Mrs. Mary Feezell and Mrs. Jean Pracht.

I have heard people on TV say: "Becuzz," and they are supposed to be intelligent, including our president. Bush said it, too, and he's from Texas.

What about people who use the word "like" 30 times in a sentence (not just teens).

Why do people want to be the in-crowd and copy each other?

I can remember when people used to say: How are you? I'm fine, how are you? I'm doing well, thank you.

Remember Bill Cosby saying, "Try to talk like you've got some sense!" I would vote for him for president.

PHILIP OSBORNE


Fund pensions, not airplanes

President Obama should use his executive power to reverse the unfair cuts to veterans' pensions. These men and women earned their benefits through years, even decades, of service. What they've earned, no one should be able to take away.

Why not cut elsewhere instead? For example, the Pentagon is currently throwing billions away every year on its most expensive contract ever: the $1.5 trillion Joint Strike Fighter.

Every year, this troubled plane gets grounded due to technical glitches, runs over budget due to redesigns and falls further behind its schedule. Its test pilots say it could get shot down easily in a dogfight. Yet it gets full funding.

Leaders in Washington should get hold of these out-of-control programs before they cut a single penny from veterans' benefits.

GEORGE L. JEANTETE, lieutenant colonel, retired, U.S.


In support of traditional families

As municipalities across the country rush to get "on the right side of history" by extending benefits to same-sex couples, they should first answer the question: "Why should the sexual nature of homosexual couples privilege them over nonsexual friends or roommates who live together for economic reasons."

Once cities bend to the former, in time, they will be forced to bend to the latter. In fact, it's already happening in the area of adoption.

Recently, a Manhattan judge ruled that a couple, who aren't romantically involved or even living together, could adopt a baby and become its legal parents.

The right side of history, contrary to the mantra of "marriage equality," is not about privileging a sexual orientation but about privileging and strengthening an institution: natural marriage, known by every civilization up to the present to be the best for the nurture and well-being of children.

REGIS NICOLL

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kkemerait said...

Phillip, while I share your concern, I have a bias toward a descriptive approach to language instead of your more prescriptive one which has a tendency to favor the language of one particular region or social class over others, and thus is at odds with linguistic diversity.

If I may borrow from Wikipedia and quote lexicographer Samuel Johnson...

"When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another, from century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay, that it is in his power to change sublunary nature, and clear the world at once from folly, vanity, and affectation.

With this hope, however, academies have been instituted, to guard the avenues of their languages, to retain fugitives, and repulse intruders; but their vigilance and activity have hitherto been vain; sounds are too volatile and subtle for legal restraints; to enchain syllables, and to lash the wind, are equally the undertakings of pride, unwilling to measure its desires by its strength. The French language has visibly changed under the inspection of the academy; the stile of Amelot's translation of Father Paul is observed, by Le Courayer to be un peu passé; and no Italian will maintain that the diction of any modern writer is not perceptibly different from that of Boccace, Machiavel, or Caro. - Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language (Project Gutenberg)"

February 12, 2014 at 4:43 a.m.
LibDem said...

I'd say the purpose of language is to communicate. Sprinkling unnecessary words through sentences ("like") makes comprehension more difficult. Sentences can become a little tedious when they are dragged on without conclusion. Nevertheless, if you can make yourself understood, you're probably doing good and/or well.

"If my English teachers heard me talk English like that...".

I'd say we SPEAK English but TALK trash.

February 12, 2014 at 7:46 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

I have to agree that it gets on my nerves when I hear someone peppering their conversation with unnecessary and excessive "likes" or "ya knows" but it also gets on my nerves when I hear someone talking as formally as Mr. Osborne seems to prefer that we all talk all the time. While good grammar and clear enunciation can indicate a certain degree of intelligence or education, to place too much importance on it indicates a degree of elitism (snobbery).

The main purpose of any language is to communicate and make ourselves understood. Sometimes taking liberties with words or grammar can best get our point across and even do so in a more colorful way. Hence slang has always been not only important to younger and hipper generations but essential, serving as a means to set themselves apart at a time when they are trying to form their own identity. And what was slang a few generations ago has a way of becoming standard, acceptable English for later generations.

Instead of "I can't get no satisfaction," what if Mick Jagger instead had sung, "I cannot get any satisfaction?" I don't think the song would have had quite the same impact! Or, instead of "I still haven't found what I'm looking for," U2 sang this instead: "I still have not found that for which I'm looking?" Or what if Bill Withers had sung, "There is no sunshine when she is gone," instead of his famous "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone?"

Certainly there is bad language and bad grammar that are indicative of limited intelligence, and I think that a truly intelligent person will want to know the fine points of grammar and strive to speak and write with utmost clarity. But sometimes, like, you just need to chill out, go with the flow, and enjoy the many variations and liberties that people take with the language. Ya know what I mean?

February 12, 2014 at 2:36 p.m.
Plato said...

Great letter Col. JEANTETE - The F-35 AKA "The Flying White Elephant" has become the most expensive boondoggle in the history of the US government. It's a budget busting cold war weapon that serves no one except the members of congress who's campaign coffers are being filled by Lockheed-Martin and it's subs. But not surprisingly, when politicians get up on their soap boxes and yap about "waste fraud and abuse" you never hear it mentioned.

February 12, 2014 at 4:07 p.m.
RShultz210 said...

Mr. Osborne I could not agree with you more. Latin is a dead language and English is rotting while it lives. This, of course, started to happen some 30 years ago when the "progressive" liberals got their filthy hands on the reins of our educational system. Then the mantra of effort counting much more than results, and self-esteem counting a great deal more than competency came into being, and from that point onward our beautiful educational system started to go from "Well I'm sorry Mr. Smith but, Johnny failed three different courses and he will have to repeat the entire curriculum in summer school" to "Oh well James, yes you failed English and math, but effort is what really counts, not whether you can add or subtract or whether people can understand you or not." "And who really cares why Van Buren failed of re-election?" "And if you really just HAVE to have the cube root of 87, well there's always the table in the back of your math book, which, incidentally, was brought down from On High by the archangel Michael" Political correctness, Mr. Osborne, has ruined many fine institutions and will be the ruination of Western civilization. I sometimes wonder how many people would love political correctness so damned much if they knew it's origin? I am confident that you are familiar with it, but for those who went to school in the last 30 years perhaps we should refresh their memories since I am certain they had not the slightest interest in history. The term "politically correct" was coined by a Bolshevik named Leon Trotsky who was a favorite of Stalin during the 1917 revolution. Stalin liked that term so well, in fact, that he let Trotsky live many years longer than he otherwise would have before he killed Trotsky in one of his famous purges. I heard the best definition of political correctness I have ever heard a few months back, and I will relate it for those who appreciate a good definition. Political correctness is: "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end." I wish you a good evening Mr. Osborne and I close with the hope as always that every leftist in the world will suffer a simultaneous heart attack and drop dead.

February 14, 2014 at 10:03 p.m.
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