Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My last, best hope

Okay, it comes down to this: I have two issues that drive me absolutely batty, and I've done everything I can about them, except post a rant to my blog. So, it's time to rant.

I've consulted with English professors, copy editors, proofreaders, and others of their ilk. I've attempted to gently correct these issues when I see them, and to refrain from passing judgment lest I be perceived as a snob. I think, though, that on this one issue, it may actually be true that I am a snob. I don't mean to be. And I certainly don't mean to offend anyone. And, truth be told, the issues that make me nuts aren't really all that bad. They're just a couple of pet peeves. But my pet peeves are multiplying, everywhere I go.

I encounter these issues on blogs, signs in parking lots, social networking sites, message boards, handouts, documentation, emails, business letters, solicitations, and magazine articles. What am I talking about? It's simple: 's and 've. Yes, you read that correctly: 's and 've.

's is possessive (or sometimes replaces "is", but that's not what I'm addressing) ... not plural. "It's my friend's cat," is appropriate usage. It means the cat belongs to my friend. "My friend's are coming over," is just nonsensical. "My friends are coming over," is a statement that makes sense. I don't know what has possessed people (pun totally intended) to start using 's to denote multiples of objects, but it is absolutely rampant. It drives me nuts.

've, pronounced "of." I get that it sounds like "of," but it means something totally different. "I should of gone to the gym," makes no grammatical sense at all to me. When I see it written, I literally cringe. For me to type that out just now required actual physical work, because it is so alien to me. "I should've gone to the gym" is a contracted version of "I should have gone to the gym." Should've, could've, would've. The 've replaces the word have. Just like "don't" is a contracted version of "do not."

I know I'm being somewhat elitist on this issue. I also realize in the grand scheme of things it's not up there like curing cancer or crimes against humanity. All I know is that it has been grating on me for about two years ... and it's only getting worse. So, if you take pride in the English language and think you might be guilty of using 's as a plural or the word "of" in place of 've, well, just take what I've said into consideration. That's all I ask. And if you want to slam me for it, go ahead. I might've done the same in your shoes ... then again, maybe I'd take it to heart.


Mel said...

Shoulda, coulda, woulda--all very conscious choices on my part. I majored in English and take great delight in inventing words and having fun in fun places.

But that's NOT in a document for the Court or in other professional writings.
Wouldn't do that--not purposefully.

But I DO find that I'm getting lazier in my pronunciations. *sigh*

Since WHEN have I said 'fur' for 'for'?!

Professors are misusing contractions?

Janelle said...

I completely understand and validate you're rant. ;-)

Hee hee! I'm an elitist, too. I mean, to.

Sara said...

Yes, I do understand your frustration! Language can be crazy - and now with blogs and texting it all seems to be even more crazy!

Kat said...

Totally agree with you!! :) They are both some of my pet peeves! And the other is the spoken "f" instead of "th" ... like "I FINK" instead of "I THINK". Grrrrr! ;) Or even worse with the younger community (and unfortunately most of our Junior players) - "txt" speech (leaving out of vowels and using numbers for parts of words). Drives DH (who's dislexic) and me (who's just pedantic) nuts!! ;)

kaj said...

It bothers me, too, but I am afraid that I make some of those errors sometimes. I hope not.

It is 'prolly' that DRIVES ME NUTS!!!

Took me forever to figure out what the heck a prolly was.