Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Call Me Paranoid.....

...but they are all out to get me.

I know a conspiracy when I see one. Everywhere I turn, there they are, those evil tools of the Devil--grammatical errors. Why does no one know the difference between its / it’s, they’re / their, or who / whom? It may seem a petty thing to obsess over, but it’s an occupational hazard I can’t escape. I love writing and reading. I did want to be a reporter, after all, and after several years of spending my days worrying if I’ve punctuated properly or observed subject-verb agreement, I can’t seem to think of anything else. And they know that. How cruel, how low, to use my weakness against me like that!

It happens so often that I know it can’t be accidental. They’re trying to drive me insane. Why else would 95 percent of the population insist on committing every one of the Seven Deadly Grammatical Sins. (Actually, I think there are more like 100, but seven sounds better. Artistic license, and all that.) I can’t even read a book, my lifelong refuge, without being assaulted by typos of all shapes and sizes. Is nothing sacred anymore? Every page has at least one sentence missing an “a,” or a “the,” and there are so many misspellings I’m convinced monkeys must have written the damn thing. Wait...what I am thinking? Monkeys probably would do a better job.

But that’s not the worst offense. I am alarmed by another growing trend--the indiscriminate use of quotation marks. Quotation marks play an important role: they enclose (shock!) quotations. For example: “I love this woman!” shouted Tom Cruise, as he somersaulted across Oprah’s stage. They also identify titles: Vlad’s favorite poem is “The Raven,” by Edgar Allen Poe. However, an increasing number of people are using them just for the heck of it. For example: the take-out restaurant whose ad says “free” delivery, or the dry cleaner whose sign proclaims “lowest” prices in town. That doesn’t even make sense. What are they trying to say? It drives me crazy. But I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself. I should feel bad for the poor, overworked quotation mark. It must feel so cheap and unappreciated, to be thrown carelessly around like that. Have some respect, will you?

I’ve taken it for as long as I can. Disrespecting the English language that way--it’s sacrilege! I know you all think you’re so clever. Taunting me, planting your wicked little typos all over the place, where you know I’ll see them. Well, I’m pretty clever, too. You see, I know who you are, and I know how to find you. And, I have spies hidden all over the place--just when you least expect it, I will have my revenge. So the next time you see an innocent looking comma, think again. It may actually be one of my minions, lying in wait...

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