Tain't so....

In this week's mail, we received one of those glossy sales promotion cards for a local automotive dealer where we take our Prius for servicing.  It was addressed to my husband, Don and it encouraged him to scratch off the Summer Savings dollar to see how much we could deduct to save on servicing for the car. In addition, there is a lucky number we can take into the dealership to match in order to potentially win an new iPad Mini.  That incentive caught the Apple my eye and I began to give some attention to this material.

It was on the reverse side, in all CAPS that caught my attention:
"DON, HOW TIME FLIES! IT'S BEEN AWHILE SINCE WE LAST SEEN YOU."  The message went on in usual upper and lowercase text suggesting his taking advantage of the special summer specials.

Okay, given that this marketing mailer was probably already in production, I was willing to ignore the fact that Don actually did utilize their service department within in the last thirty days.  In reality, it hadn't been that long ..."SINCE WE LAST SEEN YOU."  It was the sour grammatical blunder that was disturbing me.

Suddenly, I was wanting to immediately drive over to the dealership to suggest that they give me the contest iPad in exchange for my willingness to proofread any future printed materials they wanted to mail to customers.  This glossy, four-color folded advertising card probably cost them more than the iPad Mini they bought to give away, so maybe the management would see how wise it would be to give me the iPad so that I could assist in editing better promotional materials.

Then I started to give myself a hard time that I was being so picky about all this.
Who do I think I am?  I am not a scholar. Nor am I even a college graduate. Yet the protracted misuse and the laissez faire attitude in our society about language, grammar and spelling distresses me.

Being a logophile, I often feel protective of words and give great heed to my own vocabulary. I am also fan of word games like Scrabble or Perquackey.  Most recently, I admit my strong attraction (addiction?) to the new electronic game, Words With Friends (WWF).  This mobile app game is hugely popular with celebrities and civilians alike.

However, I often find myself confounded by certain words that the game allows...or for that matter, doesn't allow.   WWF often allows proper nouns or popular acronyms that have almost become words.  I have also seen them not allow words that I can confirm from my two or three different dictionary reference sources.  In protest of this, I have 'resigned' from a few games where in my view, the game play was in error. However, that has only served to frustrate me an annoy my opponent.  The "rules' of the game are not really made evident and often feel rather capricious to the game's creators.  I have yet to find a way to contact Zynga to ask them questions about game rules or discrepancies.

Does any of this really matter in the scheme of things? Advertising has long been wielding a heavy hand in how it steers the linguistics of the average consumer.  I worry how any self-respecting English teacher would be able to compete with what a student who sees, hears and hence, learns via the multiple media venues by which we glean our own culture.

Do we really care if in today's culture Xerox is the accepted name for almost any version of a photocopy made on a big printing machine? Or, that Kleenex is what we call almost every request for a paper tissue we need at those tearful or congested moments? It doesn't seem to have hurt either of those two corporations, so why does it hurt us as individuals?

Maybe we just need to assuage ourselves that it won't matter much anyway since we are reducing the written word to a few characters or icons that will fit within a text message or Tweet.

Tain't so fer me.





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