Archive for the ‘Language usage’ Tag

GERUNDS, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER, AND “YES.”   5 comments

Yesterday I called my sister to wish her a happy birthday. In the conversation I said something like,” I’d like to talk about gerunds.” Her response was immediate and enthusiastic, loosely quoted, “It makes me furious.” There was no need to explain my intention. So when did it become correct to say “”I appreciate you coming with me,” instead of “I appreciate your coming with me?” Obviously it’s now acceptable, but when did it happen? My sister, the former teacher and MFA, can explain in detail the new relationship. As she pointed out, we learned the gerund rule way back in grammar school but we have to accept that language usage changes, even though it causes ear pain. I for one, though, expect to continue saying, “I appreciate your coming.”

But then, what does it really matter when the cover of the “Intelligence Report” from the Southern Poverty Law Center says “The Year in Hate and Extremism: The ‘Patriot’ Movement Explodes” and spells out in the interior contents the details of growing racism, hate, and consequent violence.

In the same reading session, however, I found an article in “Yes” magazine where Frances Moore Lappe says “A new way of seeing that is opening up to us can form a more life-saving mental map. I call it ‘eco-mind’ — looking at the world through the lens of ecology. This worldview recognizes that we, no less than any other organism, live in relation to everything else.” Gong on, she elaborates six inherent traits we can foster, once we learn to navigate the world with the map of eco-mind.

1)    Cooperation

2)    Empathy

3)    Fairness

4)    Efficacy

5)    Meaning

6)    Imagination, Creativity, and attraction to change.

Pages 12-15, Yes” Spring 2012. www.yesmagazine.org

I want to believe those traits will overcome hate. But then, I didn’t say I expect they will.

WHO CARES ABOUT I? ME DO.   15 comments

There’s been an interesting discussion going on in the “Definitive Serious Writer’s Group,” Terrence Brejla’s creation on LinkedIn, about the use/misuse of the English language. Mostly it’s people who love the language, bemoaning the contamination so common now in everyday parlance, including – even especially – in the media. I share the pain. I also remember my big brother’s argument. Absolutely meticulous in the use of language, he argued, nevertheless, that the purpose of speech is communication. If one grants that, then it’s important to avoid using language as a cudgel to shame others. It follows that one sometimes modifies usage to join with the other speaker(s) in a community of understanding.

I think he was right about the community-of understanding argument. On the other hand, the usage rules we’ve learned along the way are designed to facilitate just such civil discourse. How do we avoid cudgeling – assuming we adopt that purpose – and still uphold the beauty and purpose of the language? Let’s face it. Language is always changing, and some of the things that upset us now will be in the textbooks somewhere down the road.

Take, for example, something like, “Me and him went to the movies.” Who would say, “Me went to the movies,” or “Him went to the movies?” Yet when they go as a couple they become objects. How did that happen? What about community? Back in the olden days, there was a courtesy. “He and I went to the movies.” We’d never have said, “I and he went to the movies.” Does that say something about a general tendency to put ourselves first, reflecting a changing attitude toward community?

Then there’s the phenomenon that reminds me of the feeling of being the nasty person who wouldn’t allow smoking in my house. That was “rude,” preventing one acquaintance from entering my house ever again. The look I get is similar when I say something like “Mary went with him and me.” The classy version, it seems, is “Mary went with he and I.” Would that same person tell me “Mary went with he,” or “Mary went with I?” How did the change happen?

I mean, Just sayin’, ya know

Posted March 20, 2012 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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