Monday, May 17, 2010

I Actually COULD Care Less

Few things make your Uncle P crazier than bad grammar. Now, I'm not talking about the occasional typo or misspelling. I never had a typing class in my life and I have been known to misspell and/or mistype on occasion. But the abuse of the English language (admittedly, the most ridiculously difficult language on the planet) just drives me to the brink of insanity (as if I weren't already close to it, as it is).

In particular, the misuse of several phrases makes me want to send everyone back to repeat the 5th Grade. This post's title is one of them. The phrase "I could care less" implies that one cares, at least a little bit. What people mean to say is "I could not (or couldn't) care less." I bring this up because I read a post tonight by a blogger whose opinions I generally respect and with whom I usually agree, in which said blogger actually typed the words "I could care less,' when he really meant the exact opposite. This is not only bad grammar, but lazy speech and (even worse) lazy writing. Is it any wonder the U.S. Education System is failing on almost every level?

And of course, the other phrase that makes me want to pull my hair out by the roots is : "a whole nother." Folks, I am pleased to inform you that there is NO SUCH WORD as "nother." It should be either "another whole" or "a whole other." I've heard national newscasters use this un-word on air, and it makes me want to smash my TV with a sledge hammer. This isn't rocket science, folks. It's basic English, supposedly (and don't get me started on people who say "supposably") taught to you when you were 10 years-old.

Almost as bad (at least in my book), is poor punctuation. In particular, the misuse of commas; colons; semi-colons and parentheses. As you have probably ascertained by now, even if you've only read one or two of my posts, I am quite fond of parenthetical sentences and phrases. But when I do use them, I make sure to punctuate them properly. A punctuation mark always goes after the closing parenthesis, unless the parenthetical sentence stands alone (which is rarely). And the semi-colon is probably the most misused punctuation mark; semi-colons should only be used when a new idea is presented as part of the same sentence or when writing lists in sentences in which commas have already been used. A comma should never be used before or after the the word "and" (as evidenced by the example just cited), and may be used before or after the word "but," at the writer's discretion. Apostrophes are used to denote contraction and possession: Leon's hos weren't bringing him the money they owed him, so he beat them until they gave him all of their johns' money. When the denotation of possession belongs to a plural group, the apostrophe always goes after the plural S.

You should be glad that I'm not about to go into the abuse of conjugational tenses, as that could lead to another three or four paragraphs which you won't read because you've already grown bored by this topic.

Confused? Who wouldn't be? Is there help? Of course. I highly suggest the purchase of The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. Written in in 1918, it is still the standard for use of grammar and punctuation when writing in English. Of course, language is fluid. Words and phrases come in and out of style with the regularity of hem-lengths. And of course, the rules of grammar vary from language to language. But in the English-speaking (and writing) world, grammar is a constant and those who ignore it, are doomed to be derided by pompous a-holes like me.

Okay. I feel better now. Another rant is over. If you are an English teacher or grammarian and have seen something in this post that is incorrect, by all means feel free to make a comment which derides my ignorance. Better you should correct me, than let me disperse misinformation. If you you are not an English teacher or grammarian, but you think I'm being an elitist a-hole (which I probably am), then feel free to call me on it. I'm a grown-up and can take whatever you dish out.

Back to my regularly scheduled nonsense, anon.


Anonymous said...


you KNOW I'm right there with you.
please, May I add my #1 pet peeve: the misuse of the adverb "anymore"?!
This word means "no longer", "any longer".
So, dont tell me, "Wow, I'm so old anymore!" when what you actually mean is "Sigh, I'm not young anymore!"

It makes me mad as hell, and i'm not going to take it

Stephen said...

Now Ima hole lot scraed of you reading my blog posts & beeing all criticall about what I right. You make mistakes to! I seen you do it.
& you are always posting those crazy pithers of zombys.

I no that their arr alot of poeple that arr alot better then me! I'm loosing my patients with all this bad speling.