Posts Tagged ‘linguistics’


May 4, 2012 4 comments

With Mothers day coming up this month, it has recently occurred to me: there are few things as invaluable as a mother’s love…and of course by invaluable, I mean valuable. You know, the English language is so difficult (that “mothers love” crap can wait). I work with a lot of people who speak English as a second language and this week I tried to teach a native Spanish-speaker how to pronounce the word “bag.” Sure, easy word for us native English speakers, but in Spanish—I have come to learn—there is no short a sound; her “bag” usually ended up as “bog.” I’m just saying; English is frustrating.

Any old way, back to the invaluableness of a mother’s love. Many people are difficult to love; we all have our quirks and…you know what forget it, I can’t do this. Do you want to know what is truly valuable? Mastery of the English language. But how many of us take it for granted? How many of us when typing a tweet do not bother to differentiate between “your” and “you’re?”Allow me to be honest #hashheads, one thing that frustrates me is a wreck less disregard for the English language. Is that to say that I always have perfect grammar, spelling, and punctuation? No, but rest assured you will never get a text or tweet from me that says,

“Dis week is kilin me more than u no. i cud use a vaca. and its only monday smh”

As a matter of fact, it took me 20 minutes to butcher that sentence; I’m just not cut out for that kind of stuff! Don’t get me wrong, I am no Ted Mosby (#HIMYM), but I’d like to think of myself as at least a cadet on the #grammarpolice force . People who hang out with me—or are my friends on #thefacebooks—will know that I am one to…”assist” with grammar, spelling, and all around book-learnin’. I cannot lie, I used to read the dictionary and Encyclopedia for recreation, (some read that and hear, “I’m brilliant;” others hear, “I’m a loser.” Both are at least partially correct) sure, I know off the top of my head how many US presidents were named James. But I’m not asking the same from everyone; I know that English and grammar aren’t everyone’s forte per se; I know that the Latin and Greek origins of our Germanic language can throw many for a loop. I just ask that we all try to #pickupabook!

Go ahead, end a sentence in a preposition if you can’t get yourself out of the pinch you are in. (That sentence wasn’t funny, but the #grammargeeks can see the ironic punch line) I don’t mind a mistake here and there, but let me tell you, if that tweet that you call a deep philosophical truth is riddled with spelling errors, Fred Nietzsche you are not. If your theological revelations/status updates need to be read 17 times in order for the reader to formulate a sensible sentence, then give up your dreams of being a G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, or John Piper (you, still have a chance to be Mark Driscoll though).

Is this in part a scathing warning to our school system? I suppose so. But more so, this goes out to the adults who don’t read Hunger Games because “it’s stupid;” the adults who haven’t picked up a book recreationally because books are too long and boring. Are you one of those people? Here’s how you can tell: Are you reading this? Then you probably aren’t one of those people. The same people who won’t #pickupabook, will likely not read this blog, which is why I can be mean to them! It’s perfectly fine to write mean things about people who don’t read; they’ll never see it. It’s like speaking ill of a deaf person (#toofar?).

Friends, my point is this: strive for perfect grammar; sound out those words that are difficult to spell; remember the lessons you learned in third grade phonics. It isn’t difficult. Above all, May the fourth be with you! (#wordplay)

(The answer by the way is 6: Madison, Munroe, Polk, Buchanan, Garfield, Carter #presidentialfacts).


October 21, 2011 4 comments

We are a fickle bunch us human beings. I’m not just referring to the fact that today is supposed to be the End of the World according to Harold Camping’s Family Radio (#howcouldiforget). Literally millions of people spent loads of money just this past week going out to buy the new iPhone 4S. Now don’t get me wrong, I was honored to proudly say #ThankYouSteve for all of his innovations, but seriously, we jump ship with the newest technology as though if we don’t it will somehow disappear. Actually, the exact opposite is true, when we fall in with the crowd following the latest craze; it is the old technology that has a tendency to vanish. Look at the cassette tape—that is, if you still have one to look at—the technology was abandoned with the advent of the Compact Disc (CD for those keeping track).

But we aren’t just fickle with technology; we are fickle with the words tied to them.  Language is a funny thing—I think it’s interesting at least; if I were smarter I’d go get a degree in linguistics. Americans are the worst with language too; we just stop using words if we think they’re too old. If the relationship between Americans and the English language were a romantic one, we would be a terrible suitor; we upgrade our language with any technological change. Look at Twitter: that used to be a word synonymous with flutter; and tweet was something that a bird did. One could not be said to be “googling” something before 1998, and a #hashhead would have been a completely different thing just 5 years ago. As for the cassette tape, word on the street (the digital internet street) is that “cassette tape” is being removed from the dictionary. Honestly, I never knew it was there; I was never in a position to need to define cassette tape. But this just goes to prove the theorem proposed by the late philosopher Bob Dylan (#notdeadyet): “The times, they are a changin’.”

My children will only know of a vinyl record because of me. My son will get all of his information about the “word processor” from dear old dad; I will be my daughter’s only source for personal info about radio drama/comedy shows. I have come to the realization that there will be many things that I grew up with that I will be hard-pressed to explain to generations that come after me. I don’t have any children yet and likely wont for years to come, but today on #Hashtagfairytales let us explore together the #TopTen items my children will not understand.

10. #lightbulbfresh: When little girls in my neighborhood gave me cookies, they were #lightbulbfresh. I’d love to say #ovenfresh, but they had their easy bake ovens. “Why would I make my own single serving dessert when I can have mommy buy one at Sprinkles, Teacake, or threeFifty Cakery?” In a world where I can go to a store and buy one cupcake, children will not be attracted to the easy bake oven, nor will they understand it.

9. #boredgame: “Wait a tick, so for hours people sat in the same room and moved game pieces on a flap of cardboard? Boring!” Why would a child from the year 2018 understand the concept of staying stationary while building relationships? They’ll play #WordsWithFriends” all day long and wonder why one would stop their day just to play a game.

8. #singingfrisbee: I thought I was so cool when I got my first CD player. “Wait dad, you carried a device that did nothing but play music? No games? No internet? Nothing? Well then a CD is just a #singingfrisbee*.” But it was fun buying blank CD’s, downloading music illegally on Napster, and then writing the song names around the rim of the disc with a Sharpie!

(*Reference to a Frisbee based on the assumption that children will in fact still play outdoors.)

7.  #wireless: My children will never use the phrase mobile phone; I almost doubt they’ll use the term cell phone. “So there was a time when you had to stay in one place to be on the phone?” Every phone will be a mobile phone. IF in fact landlines are still in use, even those are cordless more often than not. Along the same lines, I can nearly forget about convincing my children that cell phones had more than 4 buttons.

6. #blackbelt: My brother has a #blackbelt in American Karate, but that didn’t stop my grandmother from telling him to pull up his breeches. I grew up with the word, but my children will not understand what breeches are. Think about it, like I said, language is changing right along with the items and technology that were changing. “Whoa, so you didn’t have special pants for boots, or TOMS, or to have a loose fit?” If I wanted a “loose fit,” I bought a size larger.

5. #rasp-who-tin: I used to go to the Wearhouse to rent and buy movies and music. Wearhouse was great, it was like Rasputin, Blockbuster, and Gamestop rolled into one! “You can’t expect me to believe everytime you wanted to watch a movie or buy one song you had to leave your house…you couldn’t buy songs one by one unless they were special?!” I just blew my children’s mind. Why in the world would I leave home to buy music, much less pay for a whole album just for one or two good songs?

4. #alwayswearprotection: This is not a reference to contraceptives, if it were, how would I get children in the first place? I mean a pocket protector. This item was once associated with innovation and preparedness, is currently associated with geekiness, and will one day be associated with the comedy of Carrot Top (#irrelevant). “Why did people carry pens in the first pl…wait you don’t mean like a stylus or something do you?” Sure, my kids’ll use pens, but they’ll hardly carry them around on their person; if they need to jot down a note they will say it to their assistant Siri…or Siri’s technological offspring.

3. #lookatthetimes: The international sign for the question “What time is it?” is pointing to one’s wrist; the international answer is reaching for ones cell phone to answer the question. My children will likely wear wristwatches, but they will do so to accessorize. “You used these to tell time? But you just set them yourself, how did you know it was accurate? What do you mean you called popcorn? That doesn’t even make sense.”

2. #wehadababyitsaboy: I’m convinced that the precursor to the #hashtag was the smashup message of the free Collect call. No one wanted to pay for a quick call from a pay phone so they would cheat the system. “So not only did you have to stay in the same place to talk on the phone, but you were paying for each call one by one?” In this time where unlimited plans run rampant, it’s even hard for me to believe that my grandmother told me to always carry a quarter just in case I needed to call someone.

1. #iStayconnected: We rarely need to log in. Unless at a computer that is not our own, we need not enter a username and password for many websites. Hell, our devices can “Autofill” our address and credit card number if we want, we sometimes choose not to because we fear hackers, but we don’t have to log in. “You mean to say that you entered a username and password every single time you wanted to see an email or check your Blick…You guys didn’t have Blick accounts? What’d you use to share pictures and your daily log?” That’s right; they won’t know much about Facebook either.

Friends, when we have children—I mean you and I respectively, not together…unless you’re into that—let us strive to help them transcend the technology and culture around them; they—and our future—are worth it.

(Can you name other devices that will go the way of the cassette tape?)

(Also, did anyone else start to feel like you were in an episode of #HowIMetYourMother?)