“Hey, no problem, ya know?” she replied.
It occurred to me that she had not jumped aboard the Rifftides Department Of Language Reform (DOLR) bandwagon. Despite our periodic efforts to encourage clarity of expression, Americans and other speakers of English continue in their wanton linguistic ways. I concluded that it’s time to rerun this item from more than three years ago.
The Rifftides Department Of Language Reform (DOLR) has been neglecting its duties. Its members claim that their failure to stop the misuse of “absolutely” and “no problem” (see this archives post) discouraged them. At a staff meeting on the subject, the DOLRers moaned that they despair of succeeding where Fowler, Strunk, White, Bernstein, Ciardi and other titans of proper English usage have failed. They pointed out that people still say, “ya know” every few seconds; still say and write, “they” when they should use, “he” or “she;” millions still bloat their sentences with “on a daily basis” and “on a national basis,” wasting words when they could streamline with, “daily” and “nationally.”
“Never give up,” I told them. “It’s God’s — or Webster’s — work.”
“Maybe we’re being too fussy, too pedantic,” they said. “Maybe the language is just taking its evolutionary course, and what sounds wrong today will be right tomorrow.”
“Shut up and watch this,” I explained.
Thanks to Bobby Shew for calling this delightful wig bubble to our attention.
While I’m grumping about lousy usage, I’ll grump at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. They are among the newspapers and broadcast news outfits that seem to have succumbed to budget pressures by firing their copy editors. Folks, the past tense of sink is “sank,” not “sunk.” The past tense of swim is “swam,” not “swum.” Thank you.