I was standing in the line in the lunch room, the din of the various lunchers filling my ears. This was back in the day when I could eat pretty much anything and before my digestive system turned into the disaster it is today. I had opted for the deli section, my eyes settling upon a sandwich in the “salad” family. I can’t today remember if it was chicken or tuna salad, but I am pretty sure it was the salad family. Anyway, there was this large female, fairly young by the look, behind the counter. She had a permanently sour expression on her face, but I could understand that and would have worn one myself had I been required to wear plastic gloves, a white apron and a hair net all day. It was my turn and I asked for the sandwich in the salad family and added tomatoes. She cut the sandwich and was about to hand it over to me when she opened her mouth and sounds issued forth.
“‘Wan pick-oh?” Is what it sounded like she said.
In my mind I could imagine a million tiny gnomes immediately jumping into overdrive and running around the library that is my brain. Images of them scurrying around and sliding across shelves of books on those large rolling ladders like you really only see in movies these days. It was obvious the female creature was trying to communicate but the language seemed foreign. It was going to take time for my brain to translate. I needed to buy some time.
“Pardon?” Said I.
“You wan pick-oh?” Was the reply.
Somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain one of the microscopic gnomes must have found the proper translation because the translation suddenly flashed across the front part of my brain in bright neon-red letters. DO YOU WANT A PICKLE?
“Yes, thanks,” I replied and smiled.
Something has happned to the english language over the years. I cannot for the life of me fathom how the word pickle can morph into pick-oh in someone’s brain. I guess it’s the educational system or the environment that the person was brought up in, but it escapes me why the letter “L” sometimes gives people so much trouble. I think part of the problem is the internet and I hate to bite the hand that provides me a creative outlet, but it is what I believe. It has suddenly become very acceptable to not know how to use or spell words.
Somewhere along the way the word “too” and “to” became interchangeable. Heck, the word “too” has evidently started to vanish from the language. I see far TOO many uses of the word TO in place of the word TOO and it makes me want TO teach a class in its usage. I have no idea how the word “two” feels about this.
I have also noticed that there is no idea when to use “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” People seem to have no clue which one to use and you see that the most often in chat rooms and text messages where people are too busy LOL-ing and ROFLMAO-ing and BRB-ing to spell or learn the english language properly.
Now, I freely admit that I don’t have a clue about proper punctuation. As a writer this is a significant embarassment for me. If you have read my postings you know I enjoy a liberal sprinkling of the comma the way some cooks enjoy a liberal sprinkling of pepper or oregano. I have never really learned the proper place to use dashes, colons and semi-colons. My method of dealing with that is simple. I just don’t use them.
I think that may be part of it too. I think it’s laziness. That extra “O” in the word “too” is just one “O” too many. I could learn how to properly punctuate a sentence, but I admit I am too lazy not only to look up the rules but then commit them to memory. I have more movie lines and sports stats to commit to memory.
Still, I think people have become very lazy when it comes to the use of words. Spellchecking has added to that, but it doesn’t catch things like the improper use of the word “to” or “too” or “their” and “there.” As long as the moron improperly using the word spells it right the spellcheck won’t let them know anything is wrong.
Of course, I live in Chicago which has to be the capital of improperly spoken words. Not long ago I was listening to a radio show and heard a man talking about going past a construction site. You have seen plenty of construction projects, I am sure. You know that concrete is often reinforced with metal bars known as “rebar.” Well, this gentleman kept referring to is at “rebard.” As if he had confused the vegetable rhubarb with the metal posts used for reinforcing concrete. Chicagoans also love to go to Palantine instead of Palatine and Soldiers Field instead of the correctly pronounced Soldier Field. For years the Sox evidently played at Cominskey Park instead of Comiskey. It’s a sea of improper english here.
Somewhere along the line the word “good” became proper usage. I heard it used on the news the other day. “She did good, right?” I heard a weatherman ask a crowd of people. I did that once and a teacher of mine, back in high school, reminded me that I did well and not good and that was all it took. Seeing the word “took” there reminds me once of the guy I heard say, “yeah, I’ve tooken him to a few games this season and he really liked ’em.”
As a writer and someone who aspires to be in broadcasting it hurts sometimes to listen to people. I don’t necessarily have a solution for this other than I wish people would just take the time to try and use proper words.
Watch out for those pick-ohs.