Hello there, class, and welcome to another session of Please Stop Making Such a Hash of the English Language. Today we will deal with examples of deplorable abuse, all gleaned from the Weird Wide Web and actual correspondence and conversation over the course of the last month or so.May I have the first question, please?
Yes, I been tryna see …
Stop right there. Not only is “I been” the language of an ignoramus, there is no such word as “tryna.”
Sure there is. Me and my boyz use it all time.
Oh, Lord, give me strength. The word you are looking for is boys, with an s. The letter z does not pluralize.
No, see, Ima use the style …
Of a moron. Now, as to “me and my boy(s) use it.” Remember the old guideline? Take out the boy(s) and see if the sentence still works. What do you get?
“Me use it.”
That’s perfect, if you’re Tarzan. So back to “tryna.” I’ve been running across this for a while now. It’s a shorthand way of saying “trying to,” as in “I am trying to understand why people would use an idiotic non-word like tryna.” Next?
Why are you picking on people for having there own way of language?
Ack. Excuse me, I think part of my brain just exploded. “There” own way? I believe the word you are looking for is “their.”
OK, stop right there again. What in the world is that supposed to mean? Except in math, how can there be a same difference? That’s just nonsense. What you’re trying to say is that “there” and “their” are the same thing. They’re not. They’re. Get it? I just threw (not through) that one in there for laughs.
While we’re on the subject, other non-interchangable homophones include to, too and two, weather and whether, compliment and complement, discreet and discrete, and about a skidillion others. The ones I mention are just what I picked up on Facebook last week.
Can I ax you something?
No, you may not. I can’t think of a single thing that needs to be axed at the moment. And I am inclined not to let you ask, either.
Yeah, but so what if people know what you’re tryna say?
I’m sorry, could you back up and take another run at that sentence, using grown-up language this time?
What’s the difference? It doesn’t effect me.
Oh, yes it does. For starters, you apparently don’t know the difference between affect, to change, and effect, a result. And it does affect you. You use the incorrect word and the effect is that you don’t sound nearly as smart as you probably are. Or aren’t. The jury’s still out.
You understood what I was saying.
It was a lucky guess. No, actually, that affect-effect confusion-slash-ignorance has become so common that I more or less expect it, which is kind of sad.
But aren’t you the one who says language is always growing and evolving?
Yes, I am, and I stand by the statement. I’m just not sure that use of apostrophes to form plurals (as I see frequently, to my horror – the bird’s sat on a wire, for example) counts as growth. To say nothing of Ima and ax. Let’s just say I’m tryna figure it out.
© 2013 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.