Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Minor Quibble

I'm not a Grammar Nazi, per se.  I frequently mangle the English language out of speed, exhaustion, convenience, artistic license, and brain-deadedness. Sometimes, I do it out of ignorance as well.  My apologies - I had a public education.  Zing.

What about University, you say?  That kinda learnin' will make you smart!  Case in point: "Fool me once..."

Yes, a college education is very important.  You will learn many wonderful things you may never learn otherwise. However, is grammar one of them?

A common misconception people have about the English Literature major is that grammar is taught alongside the sacred words of Byron, Wordsworth, Austen, and Shakespeare.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  Once you've entered the halls of high-brow English literature at the university level, professors assume you're grammatically proficient and never touch upon this technical area.  We are directed solely towards studying literary criticism, analysis, and interpretation.  "This is English Lit 202.  Get your inks and nibs out, and spank me out a 200-page paper on the themes of gender and culture in Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman.  By the way, Shakespeare was gay and Byron loved his sister.  Any questions?"

Unfortunately, I've personally witnessed the error of this assumption.  Many of my fellow English Lit students were ignorant of simple grammar as well as the standard/accepted method of writing an essay (at the time, the English Lit department at my university was ranked third in the nation.  Scary, no?).
Therefore, I am not one of those folks who will blast you to hell, and resurrect you only to blast you again, if you make some grammatical mistakes.  (The pillaging, burning, and murdering of the English language by many evil Netizens, particularly our glorious "entitled" youth, however...I will save THAT for another day.)

Still, I do have a few quibbles, among which I must, must, must, must, must bring to attention:

Hanged v. Hung

My 7th grade English teacher actually hammered this little jewel into my head:  A person is hanged, a picture is hung. Hung.

Throughout my years of reading books, magazines, newspapers, online news, blogs, and community forums, I have only witnessed a handful of people who made the correct distinction between "hanged" and "hung."

It's not a glaring error (unlike "their, there, they're" and "you're, your"), but it does make my tear ducts sting a little.  Just a little.

Therefore, please, if you have the (mis)fortune of running across this particular blog post, be sure to spread the word!


  1. I must say, old chap-- this entry moved me to tears! Pip pip!

  2. Is it wrong that I looked at "motherfucker" and started questioning its spelling?

    Just sayin'.