Why? Why do Americans insist on adding syllables to English words, or twisting around existing syllables? Why do people add letters where there should be no added letters? Whatever happened to checking to see if you’re saying something correctly? Have we become so grammatically careless as a nation that it is now acceptable to simply make up the language as we go along? (Rhetorical, please. I’m afraid I already know the answer.)
Here, for your listening and dancing pleasure:
Nasties for Which Folks Should Get Mandatory (Grammar) Jail Time
- It’s realtor (two syllables). Not real-a-tor.
- Mischievous has THREE syllables: MIS’-chie-vous. Miss Cheevius was your 4th grade teacher, and she did not have a sense of humor or a proclivity for pulling silly pranks.
- Someone who builds brick structures for a living (or, as in Adam R’s case, someone belonging to a secret society of satanic axe murderers posing as upstanding pillars of the community) is a mason. Masons practice masonry. May. Son. Ree. Mason-ary is not a word. Embrace that truth.
- Your voice box — the organ in your neck that houses your vocal cords — is called your larynx. Lare-inks. Lare-inks. NOT lare-i-nicks. Two syllables, friends. Only two. And watch out for the “ynx” and “nyx” confusion.
- Et cetera is a Latin phrase meaning “and other things.” Notice it is two words. Excetera is, well…wrong.
- Ku Klux Klan. This clan of idiots reportedly derived their name from the Greek kyklos, meaning “circle.” Notice there is no “L” in the first word, so please resist the uniquely American temptation to add stuff to make it sound cooler. So when you speak of them with repugnance (which you should always do when you speak of them at all), get a clue; don’t say “Klu.”
- This is a case of subtracting a syllable, which is equally as offensive as adding one. The word referring to a group or series of elements which are ranked is called a hierarchy. Not high-arky, but higher-arky. Let’s get the height of our arkies straight, shall we?
- Interpret. Not in-ter’-pet. There’s an extra “R” in there, sweety.
- If you say acrost one more time, I am going to slap you across your face with a trout.
- Sandwich, people. It’s sandwich, named after the Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, who was said to be “an inveterate gambler who ate slices of cold meat between bread at the gaming table during marathon sessions rather than get up for a proper meal” (Online Etymology Dictionary). It’s not samwich or the even more ridiculous sandridge.
So there’s the list for today. Trust me, I got a million of ’em, so the above does not indicate the final Schmenglish post. I just wonder where we went wrong, you know? You never hear of a Mexican or Puerto Rican person butchering Spanish, or a Parisian speaking French all wrong. Maybe it’s because English is such an international language that there are undoubtedly more chances for people to abuse it. But why is it abused so badly in our own country?
I’m all for informal writing. A cursory perusal of this very site will reveal a metric ton of slang. (See?) It’s in the everyday usage department that we seem to not care about falling off the grammar wagon. This is war, friends. Somebody hep me, because lest we forget:
Ouch. I’ve probably violated these and more. It’s the Hoosier in me — how’s that for an escuse. Thanks for raising my awareness. Here’s one that I hear frequently: flustrated, as in you’re flustrated with shmenglish. Keep up the good fight, but I beg for mercy regarding my jailtime.
Satanic axe murderers? I always thought they did it Jack the Ripper style or with their little hammers.
I too am guilty of (most of) these shmenglish accusations.
Being related to the one posting “Shmenglish”, I must be careful. I do, however, live with a husband that isn’t careful. ;0) He’s a born and bred Texan. Speaking of mercy on jail time from Shmenglish persecution! ;)) HA! This boy could write his own dictionary!
Your stuff is so much fun to read. Thank you very much.
I also want to thank you for including “Realtor” here. I am one and the hair goes up on the back of my neck everytime someone mispronounces it. You also educated me on a couple that I have unintentionally destroyed.