Like Whatever... Ya Know
I'd like to voice a few pet peeves wordwise. However, first I must ask: Can one "voice" an opinion in writing? How can a peeve be a pet? Are "wise" words, such as "wordwise" correct grammarwise?
But back to my peeves:
High on my list are misplaced "only"s, such as "This insurance policy only covers passengers on regularly scheduled airlines." How fortunate. If it uncovered them they might catch cold.
Another vexation is wayward apostrophes, as in incorrect plurals, like "the Smith's," often seen on front doors or mailboxes. I also cringe every time I pass a local Chinese restaurant that calls itself "Your's." And how about "The dog wagged it's tail" (which I read in a children's story recently). Hey, I like a happy dog as much as the next person, but "it's"? Also, years ago, a shop in the city where I used to live called itself Audreys' Hideaway. It is possible, of course, that the establishment was owned by more than one woman named Audrey, but I doubt it. How many Audreys do you know of now that the lovely Ms. Hepburn is no more? A local store solves the apostrophe problem by displaying "Jokers Wild" on one sign, and "Joker's Wild" on another. It's impossible to tell if they're they talking about multiple unruly pranksters, or simply stating that one jester is untamed.
And what's with conversations like the following between two young ladies (at least I think they were females-sometimes hard to tell these days) which I overheard on the bus yesterday:
"So he goes, 'yeah, well, ya know, why should I?' And I go, 'Well, like, ya know.whatever.' And he goes.."
Exactly where is everybody going? It's like, ya know, soooo irritating.
Another problem is gender political correctness, which has introduced a whole new area of grammatical inconsistency: Why do advertisers persist in saying things like "If your child is having reading problems, this program will help them." What's so wrong with helping "him or her," or "her or him," or simply changing "child is" to "children are" so the rest of the sentence will be correct? And a recent Walt Disney promo proclaims, "A child lives in a world of their own imagination." If you pay attention, you'll hear and read countless similar references, all written by copywriters who are getting paid big bucks.
Though all the above really bug me (how did insects get into this), the phrase that irritates me the most is "more importantly" instead of simply, "more important." One hears this from educators, corporation presidents, the clergy, radio and television personalities, and others who should know better but still say things such as "More importantly, February usually has 28 days." Actually, they don't often talk about February, but you know what I mean. Would these people proclaim Tom Cruise to be "more handsomely" than Leonardo DiCaprio? Or would they judge Martha Stewart's duck a l'orange to be "more deliciously" than that prepared by Julia Childs? (Since I never met Tom or Leo personally nor have been invited to dine with Martha or Julia, I'm in no position to make comparisons. However, if I were, I'd at least do it in a grammatically correct (certainly not "correctly") fashion.
Of course, I'm not an authority. I could be wrong about any or all of this. After all, I've been wrong before---once in 1943, and again in 1952, as I recall.
This compulsion to correct everything I hear and read, from radio and television commercials to billboards on the highway, is a curse! I don't have a moment's respite. I beg of you, please help me before I edit again!
Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.