Language is a shong-ing

For those who may not know, the title is an homage to Steve Martin's comedy routine in which he riffs on "for the times they are a changing," except instead of changing, he pronounces it shong-ing.

Anyway, I'm digressing. This morning over my Saturday breakfast, the only sit down breakfast I eat in the week, I was reading last Sunday's newspaper. Sad to say, I've been so busy that this was the first opportunity I've had to catch up on the news, at least the printed variety.

In the Outlook section of the Houston Chronicle, there was a great piece by William Safire on how our language is changing.

I read this eagerly because stuff like this has always interested me, even before I took a History of the English Language class in college.

The interesting thing I found was that, today, our language seems to be changing because of the public utterances of celebrities who, dare I say, speak less articulately than others. They butcher words and use words incorrectly which reminds me of a comedian many years ago who did the same and got big yucks. Anyone remember Norm Crosby?

Mr. Safire made no value judgment about this, and neither do I. Actually, I think it's better that our language has the ability to change with the times and evolve. I don't foresee us ever doing something like the French who actually have passed laws to make sure French stays "pure" and unblemished by the addition of foreign words and phrases.

Still, there is a part of me that does cringe when I hear someone in the public eye who speaks without regard to the basics of subject-verb agreement or misuses words or says "ain't" (when I went to public school this was a cardinal sin!).

Guess that explains the T-shirt I designed for my Smart Chick shop. When I wear it, I get a lot of looks and laughter. It's the tee with the Bette Davis quote: "I always make it a point to speak grammatically. Who knows? It might become popular again."

Maybe I should send a t-shirt to Mr. Safire.

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