Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grammar According to Momma

I saw this product while shopping at Target on Sunday.  It caught my eye enough to make me stop, scowl and take photographic evidence of this blatant and absurd transgression of grammar.  There are two things that bother me about this:
1.  They are selling a plaster, paintable "OMG."  What are you supposed to do with it, paint it and hang it on your wall?  What meaning does a shortened version of "omigod" have as a wall hanging?
2.  The more abhorrent violation of the two:  The text at the top of the package says it is a "plaster word."  WORD??  REALLY??!  Since when did teenage text acronyms qualify as words?  As a matter of fact, since when did any acronym make the cut?

I don't have a problem with "omg," per se or abbreviating things for the sake of time while texting.  It is a convenient and practical thing to do.  But, I do have a problem with this little gem snaking it's way into everyday conversation enough that people are actually considering it a word.  I have observed "omg" in two non-cell phone commercials, one sitcom and a billboard before sighting this one at Target.  I don't have strong opinions about a lot of things, but this seemingly trivial thing really irritates me.  "Omg" is trite, meaningless, unnecessary and IT IS NOT A WORD.

I'll admit that, as you may have already guessed, I am a card-carrying member of the grammar police.  I know every grammar rule there is, and I abide by most of them.  I break out the red pen for misuses of "I" and "me," "effect" and "affect" and "there" "their" and "they're."   I have relaxed about certain things over the years, like the rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition or "not using a preposition to end a sentence with," as we grammar comedians like to say.  I finally had to face the fact that saying, "With whom would you like to speak?" just sounds snooty.  Another place I've given up is using "their" when in the context of the sentence, "his" or "her" should be used.  Example:  "Does everyone know where their pencil is?"  If phrased correctly, it should be "Does everyone know where his or her pencil is?"  (If you don't know why, I'm not going to deign to tell you.)  Using "his or her" is very cumbersome, and I'm annoyed with whomever thought up our gender pronoun system for not coming up with a gender neutral pronoun.  Technically speaking, you can just say "his" and that's supposed to include everyone, but frankly it's just plain sexist.
So, because I am the utmost authority on the matter, I have come up with a sample list of April's New Grammar Rules, because whomever wrote them in the first place, had no idea they/ he or she needed to remind everyone that "omg" is a pathetic excuse for communication.  Here you go:

  1. You may substitute "they" or "their" for "he or she" or "his or her" when the gender of the party to which you are referring is unknown or includes multiple genders.
  2. You may end a sentence with a preposition, but ONLY if it sounds absurdly pretentious to do otherwise.  For example, you can say, "Who does this belong to?"  instead of the stuffy, "To whom does this belong?"  You may under no circumstances say, "Where's it at?"  or "The road has to be finished for cars to drive on."
  3. You may use text-originating acronyms only while texting.  Anyone using "omg" anywhere else shall be flogged.
  4. If you are typing an email  or text to a friend and you are in a hurry, minor typos or spelling/grammar mistakes and typical abbreviations are acceptable, but we will make fun of you.  If you are typing a business email, writing a formal letter or for the love of god, a resume, all spelling and grammar should be absolutely correct.  All mistakes made in formal documents will be published to a website with a link on Google's homepage so that we grammar mavens can smirk and feel superior.
  5. Let's talk word misuse.  If you are a sport announcer, you are banned from using the word "literally."   There shall be no, for example, "He literally ripped his head off!" during football games.  Really??  I guess he's under indictment for murder then, since he "literally" committed a heinous crime in front of millions of viewers.
  6. If you are a sports announcer, Alanis Morisette or anyone else who is not absolutely positive they know the meaning of irony, you may not use it or any derivative thereof.  Newsflash:  coincidence is not irony.  "Ironically, he's playing the best game of his career against the team of his former college roommate," is in no way, shape or form a correct use of irony.  I could use a whole posting to illustrate the proper use of irony, so I'll leave that for a later time.  
  7. This last rule is probably the most important one of all.  If you are trying to type a grammar-related post for your blog because you are trying to do something that makes you feel a little more intellectual than listening to "Do You Know the Muffin Man?" on repeat eight-six times in a row, but your 2-year-old is doing acrobatics in your lap and shouting "I type!  I type!" you are indemnified from all typos, grammar mistakes, misspellings, word misuse, run-on sentences, fragments, awkward sentences and anything that ends up not making sense.  Thanks and goodnight!

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