Grammar Lesson for the Day

Sunni's picture

I know some individuals are put off by the creep of text-speak into everyday usage. I tend not to be among them, although I will confess to mild annoyance when Snolf the Second says, “Lol!” instead of actually laughing. However, I’ve recently encountered a usage that is so bizarre I couldn’t make sense of it for a few minutes ... and when I did, my blood pressure started to rise.

Gentle people, “totes” is not an adverb; it is the plural form of the noun “tote”, or a form of the verb “to tote”. Abbreviating “totally” to “totes” saves one only two characters and renders the resulting sentence extremely confusing to anyone familiar with the word’s extant usage.

I freely admit it: I am an old-fashioned stickler when it comes to grammar; but that written, I also understand that language and usage evolves. I can be flexible, particularly where the older rules really don’t make much sense (e.g., splitting infinitives, or ending a sentence with a preposition). However, this word substitution is a devolution that murkifies rather than clarifies. I know it may come as something of a surprise to some, but there is more than enough murkiness in the English language without deliberately adding to it ... particularly when there no real benefit to the process.

And now that I’m done carping on that subject, I request that you younguns kindly get the hell off of my lawn.

Are you old enough to get a curmudgeon license?

I agree, like, totes. ;-)

Here's my own curmudgeonly lost cause: "CELL" is not a telecommunications device! "Cell" is a small room in a building, or, by analogy, something that looks similar, e.g. a microscopic cell of a living organism, or a polygonal area of terrain served by a single cellular telephone tower.

"Cellphone" is an elegant contraction of "cellular telephone" that preserves the root meaning (a cell-based system for transmitting sound). "Cell" alone is an abomination.

So there.

I’m with you.

Whenever someone says something referencing “my cell”, I’m very tempted to inquire, “How can you single out just one?” I would guess 99 out of 100 would have no clue what I mean, though, so I keep it to myself.

(And to answer your question, I think if I’m officially a crone that means the curmudgeon license is automatic.)

Texting...

I never heard of anyone actually speaking in cyber language. That would be weird. :) Wouldn't it be so much easier just to laugh?

lol

Yes, it would be easier to just laugh. I think that's partly the point.

Sometimes a laugh is an uncontrolled reflex. "Ha ha" can be said in a wide range of tones and meanings.

It is weird.

Language Changes

I don't always like the changes, but they're a fact of life. Does it bother you that we aren't speaking Shakespearian English, or Chaucer's usage?

My main objection to some changes (and yes, "LOL" in spoken conversation bothers me) is that I use language as a tool to convey meaning. Introducing new words not commonly accepted to convey the same damned meaning as an existing word can hamper that transfer of meaning.

Smith and Zelman used "LOL" in spoken conversation in Hope. I found it grating. But I fully expected to see it happen, since it's fairly common now for abbreviations to become words.Do you say A-S-A-P or "asap", N-A-S-A or Nasa (or, as do I, "lethally incompetent twits")?

For the record, I've been an unlicensed curmudgeon for just about as long as I can remember.

Sometimes, yes

Does it bother you that we aren't speaking Shakespearian English, or Chaucer's usage?

Actually, yes, at times. Their language had a poetry to it that modern English seems to lack ... although I’ll confess to being very out of practice with Chaucer. My book got moldy and I’ve not yet replaced it. (In case anyone’s curious, I’ve not attempted Beowulf ... yet.)

My main objection to some changes (and yes, "LOL" in spoken conversation bothers me) is that I use language as a tool to convey meaning. Introducing new words not commonly accepted to convey the same damned meaning as an existing word can hamper that transfer of meaning.

This is my objection as well. Thank you for communicating it so succinctly.

To answer your abbreviation question, I always say “as soon as possible”, and have been saying “Nasa”, but I think I’ll adopt your usage for that one.

Totally totes

I don't really like "totally" very much... the first time I saw "totes" it took me a few seconds to figure out what it meant (didn't use "urban dictionary" that might have been quicker if I'd gone there right away).

I predict "totes" will reduce to "totz" as repetitive "lololol" now often gets reduced to "lulz."

Happy Autumn!

Not a valley girl, eh?

Yeah, I wasn’t a big fan when it first became popular ... now I find it slipping in to my speech on occasion. I expect that won’t happen with its abbreviated form, however.

And a happy autumn to you and yours, good sir! You all are sorely missed.

Sigh

I still haven't gotten over the use of "impact" as a verb. Every time I get a management memo with "utilize," "at this time" or "prior to," I want to kill them.

Don’t get me started on the verbs!

Anyone else get murderous upon encountering a phrase such as “grow your wealth”? I agree, Kevin; “utilize” is another one that sets me off ... There are many more, but I’m not caffeinated enough yet to call up others [I can hear those sighs of relief!].

I have another gripe, although this is technically not a grammar issue. We are currently in daylight savings time (AKA gov stupidity time), with the exception of AZ and some semi-civilized pockets of IN. That means that stating a time and using an abbreviation such as EST or MST is wrong. That “S” stands for “Standard”, as in standard time (AKA nongov meddling time), which is what we fall back to in the fall. How hard is it to keep track of that? Further, if one can’t be arsed to do so, then don’t use the wrong bloody abbreviation; it makes one look careless or stupid. “MT” or whatever works just as well, most of the time.

Nope

Anyone else get murderous upon encountering a phrase such as “grow your wealth”?

Not really. But I've been thinking about starting a marijuana farm, which probably qualifies. [grin]

Regarding standard time: There originally was a reason to specify "standard". That's because "standard time" was not "nongov meddling time". That was "local time", based on noon at any given geographical location. Railroads began standardization to ease scheduling, and government eventually codified the practice. But yeah, the only time I bother with the "S" is when I need to stress the difference between the two... er, standards; like scheduling an appointment close enough to the clock shift that I want to remind folks.

Yeah, but...

"Abbreviating 'totally' to 'totes' saves one only two characters..."

Yes, but it saves you from having a double letter which slows down texting. A lot.

But, yes, this sort of thing bothers me and always has. If it isn't "text speak" it's stupid sports terms, or "Wazuuuuup?!" Lots of things bother me. I see it as my problem; not theirs. When things like this start to annoy me, I see it as a sign I need to relax.

Too true

I opened an account at facebook so I might be able to talk to my grandchildren more. It happens... but not too often. And when it does, they use a lot of the "texting" language which seems to have replaced the old "like" (every few words) and "you know" phrases. Maybe that is an improvement?

I could fuss at them about it... or enjoy the contact. Probably not both.