Last night I went to a very interesting talk on “language pet peeves” given by a professor of Linguistics from another school. She did not mention one of my big pet peeves, which is people using i.e. when they really should use e.g., but “ironically” and “literally” being used “wrong” came up, as well as the singular use of “they/their” and the incorrect use of “its/it’s.” To my surprise, these usages (linguists do not call them “mistakes” like English teachers do) are actually quite old and not something that the Millennials invented. The speaker suggested not going “grammando” on people who use “literally” when they mean “figuratively,” but just giggling to ourselves at the mental image of their heads “literally exploding” or whatever wonderful image we get from their statements. I do have to admit that I am guilty of asking people, “What’s ironic about that?” when they use “ironically” to mean “coincidentally” or even just as conversational filler. From now on I will try to refrain from going grammando on people. After all, if we understand what they are saying, there is no need to comment on their linguistic choices. Leave it to the English teachers of the world to attempt to teach people “proper” English, if there even is such a thing.
Speaking of language, today as I was listening to my Irish CD, the lesson was sports, and it got me thinking about how I used to be such a tennis fan. I used to play tennis a lot, although – and I can’t emphasize this enough – I was terrible at it, and I used to watch it on TV. In some of my novels, my characters played it. What happened? I kept losing tennis partners, it is true, and I still enjoy watching people who are good, like when Tiffy and I stayed with a couple from my choir in Estes Park, and we watched them playing with their friends. Maybe it finally dawned on me that I will really never be any good at tennis, and so I moved on to other pursuits. I’m not even 100% sure where my racket is, but it dates from the late 80’s so I’d probably get laughed off the courts if I showed up with that old thing. Just to show you how much tennis has dropped off my radar, there are only five posts on this blog that mention it (besides this one), and two are just about how Travalon’s phone changed my name to “Famous Table Tennis” while one is about tennis shoes. Hmm… maybe I should add tennis to my life in my pursuit of fitness. It couldn’t hurt! First I’d have to find a partner… Travalon always laughs about how I said in high school I used to play with one friend so much that I “almost didn’t suck.” Perhaps I could reach those heights once again.
And continuing on the language topic, today I am listening to my Pandora station that is supposed to play R&B, but it has morphed into a classic hip hop station. I didn’t really mind, since I love Tupak Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., but suddenly it occurred to me that I was listening to music full of very bad words at work. Oops! Fortunately, nobody seems to have noticed.