Sunday, May 25, 2008

Grammar Grievances

I’m not sure when my obsession began, but it must have caught fire over the summer. I started listening to a pod cast about grammar and I became nothing more than simply intrigued. When I came back from summer break, my head began to spin as suddenly I realized I was talking to my friends who couldn’t construct a grammatically sound sentence. Worse, they were oblivious to their errors. For example, after the first choir concert:

“You did amazing, August!”

I smile and say, “Thank you very much,” and try not to scream. How can I think about my compliment without ignoring the blatant grammatical errors screeching louder than an air horn during an AP test? I performed amazingly, not amazing. Amazing is an adjective; it describes a noun. Yes, the performance was amazing, but the performers did amazingly. Amazingly is an adverb, so it describes an action. Didn’t we all learn this in elementary school?

Then there is a lovely gift, accompanied by an earnest, but annoying statement: “I got something for you,”

I wince and say, “You do?” What can she mean, she got me something? How does that work? She must mean she has something for me… that must be it. But why can’t she just say so?

Telephone conversations are frustrating as well. “Where are you at?”

It may be a grammar myth that ending a sentence with a preposition is wrong, but why in the world would he purposely do it? It just sounds so wrong, and to most traditional grammarians it would be. If a sentence like that worms its way into his college entrance essay it will be hook, line, and sinker. True, he probably doesn’t know how ignorant he sounds, but I can’t focus on explaining to him where I am when he talks like that, and it is only harming him in the long run.

I must say, girls are worse than boys, probably because they talk more. “You know Chris; he’s the boy that took me to Prom…”

Yes, I know Chris, but I didn’t know that he we was an object! Shouldn’t it be something like, “You know Chris; he’s the boy who took me to Prom…” That is for objects, and I don’t care if we’re only gossiping on the phone, Chris is a person, not a mop.

Not even in the retail world am I safe from the horrors of the sagging standards of the English language. For instance, at the grocery store, the sign above the speedy checkout line reads: “Ten items or less,”

Less is for a noun that can’t really be counted, like water, for example. But the last time I checked, you can easily count if you have ten items or fewer. I know I can tell when the person in front of me in the speedy checkout line has twelve cans of soup, but once again, that was something we learned in elementary school, so you never know.

The most horrific grammar incident can happen only in writing, but nevertheless I loathe it: “Buy one; get one half off!!!!”

Would you ever use more than one period at the end of a sentence to reiterate that the sentence was over? No, of course not! Then why do advertisers, as well as overzealous texting teens, use multiple exclamation points to stress that the sentence has not only ended, but that it was exclaimed from rooftops? Maybe I’m just a stingy Puritan caught in a time warp, but one punctuation mark is enough.

I’m not a good listener all the time; I’ll be the first to admit. When the grammar is poor, I can’t focus on the meaning, only the mistakes. What was once the subject of an interesting online radio program is now the obsession of my short editing career, not to mention the constant distraction from civilized teenage conversation. I may seem pessimistic now, but just wait until I copy edit your term paper…

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spread Thin

I am, (already?) coming to the end of another school year. Junior year was crazy, especially in a brand new school. I though I knew what being 'busy' was until this year-- boy, have I learned a lot!
In the fall, it wasn't so bad at first. I got used to classes, went crusading to convince the guys that asking a girl to homecoming is not a proposal of marriage, and worked on my online Spanish class. I kept myself mildly entertained with creative writing, choir, and yearbook. Math wasn't too bad yet, and I was treading water in AP American and Honors Physics. I taught piano and still practiced an hour each day. I also worked at a wedding reception and event center on the weekends.
But as winter approached, it only got wilder. We had our first few deadlines in yearbook, and after much anxiety, hair pulling, and tears, the staff got the pages error free and sent off to the plant. I auditioned for productions, an after school class, somehow reasoning that as long as it wasn't a class in the school day, I'd have time for it. I still did choir, creative writing, and I still did online Spanish and worked on the weekends.
Then there was the slight 'Winter Break' vacation, what I like to call the calm before the storm. Come January second, the musical rehearsals began: every single day from five to seven in the evening. Math suddenly became so foreign I couldn't tell if my teacher was speaking Greek or Yiddish. I still had to keep up with physics and AP American, not to mention my online Spanish (and the deadline was all to quickly approaching). I had to prepare for solo/ensemble festival because I was doing a vocal and a piano solo, which required more practicing time then I could afford. We had two yearbook deadlines- back to back and only a month apart. Two of our staff members dropped at the semester and I had to pick up the extra slack. Work was especially busy with Christmas Parties. The choir performed at a few Christmas gigs as well. I had my own parties to go to, and I had to pencil them in six weeks in advance.
Once the musical was performed in March and my online class hastily finished, I thought I would have plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, not so. The final touches for the yearbook were due, and there seemed to never be enough time, even though I was taking two yearbook classes. Math was harder than ever, and my highest test score was about a sixty percent. The AP American test was just around the corner and I had to make up for all the lost time from the musical. Work got busier in the spring (people love getting married in the spring) and I added two more piano students.
After I took my AP American test, I had to go back and make up all the work I had put off until after the test. I was behind and I was worried I would never catch up. But I could only do one thing at a time, which was why I felt horrible. Although I was in many things, I couldn't devote myself to them 100% because I was spread so thin.
And even when everything was finally winding down, the worst happened: I lost momentum. I was out of gasoline and I wasn't going to drive another mile. I've never been so tired in all my life! The whole year caught up to me. Why did I do so much, and why did I try to keep decent grades? I don't even know anymore... but I can't wait until next year. What's on the agenda? To name a few: yearbook, piano, productions, an internship with the paper, all the extra required classes I didn't take earlier, and a job.