The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 30, 2000


What's happening to our language?

Did you ever have something that just drives you crazy? Sometimes it's not even a long trip. In my case, my skin just crawls when I hear people say, "John and me went to the store." Now these same grown-ups, somewhat educated people, would never say, "Me went to the store." Somehow, the word and makes the use of the word me acceptable. Now we've all been saying, "It's me," for a long time and some of us have actually uttered the words, "It is I," but that's only when we are trying to impress someone. But to say "Me and John," that's too much for me. Actually, it's too much me as well.

Our parents hated double negatives. "I didn't do nothing," was bound to get a rise out of someone. "I ain't done nothing." For us it was a little extreme, but we usually knew that ain't wasn't correct even when used in a double negative sentence. Same goes for "I ain't got nothing." Even as I type this, my computer puts a red underline under the so-called word ain't.

Why do people, especially waitresses, say ,"Here you go" when they bring you your food? I'm not going anywhere. I'm planning to sit right there and eat whatever was placed in front of me. Maybe they know something that I don't know about the food and I should expect to be spending some time traveling with a paramedic.

"Ya-but." Now that's a sound that every parent has heard several hundred times. I think it translates into, "I hear you, I know you are right, but I'm going to do it anyways." Sometimes the conversation goes like this, "No, you may not jump off the Mystic River Bridge, you might die." Answer, "Ya-but, Tommy asked me to." Or, "No, the moon is not made of blue cheese." "Ya-but, Mister Hoppy Toes said so on TV." Or, "Turn off the computer and go to bed, it's after midnight, you will be all tired out tomorrow in school." "Ya-but, I have a study in the morning." The list is endless.

People say "like" at the beginning of their sentences and end with an upwards inflection. Others have to say, "You know," every fourth or fifth word. I don't even know that they are "you knowing" about. (How's that for a poorly written sentence?)

"I seen that movie already." That's another one. What happened to tenses? I sit here crabbing about spoken English, and worrying about whether or not I have placed my periods on the right side of the quotation marks. I wonder if anyone even knows the difference or even cares.

Please. Thank you. Excuse me. May I help you? Yes sir. Pardon me. What happened to all that?

We have become so casual in our use of the spoken word that the true meaning of our words is disappearing. You may notice that I have only mentioned incorrect English and its loss of meaning. I am truly shocked at some of the inappropriate language that has become so commonplace. I'm sure that it is absolutely impossible to do or place things where it is often suggested. Inanimate objects cannot do physical things either. I once had a very revealing conversation with one of my sons when he first started riding the school bus. We were discussing the difference between swearing and just plain filthy talk, and why both were not acceptable, no Ya-buts about it.

The way we speak to each other, and the way we treat each other sometimes belongs in the gutter. Our dress codes seem to have disappeared as well. Manners? What are they? Society used to speak in a united way. The home, the school, the Scouts, the church, and even the coach all used to reinforce each other. What happened?

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito