Bad Grammar Jesus

Anyone here remember Sister Redempta – the one who’d take a ruler to your knuckles whenever you so much as missed a comma?  Well, I do.  And I’m pretty certain that if she A) had access to your Facebook account and B) caught you grunting this out…

bad grammar jesus

…she would have taken a 2’x4’ to your face.

Yes, the above is from Facebook, and yes, starting a sentence with a period is a uniquely bold grammatical maneuver.  Also – a little English major pro tip here – there is a point where “and” ceases acting as a conjunction and instead changes into an indicator that the author has no idea where his/her sentence is going – or, for that matter, what it might do when it gets there.  Also, the individual who cobbled together the above (read: took a literary number two) seems to have something of a vendetta against apostrophes when used to indicate possession (“In Jesus name”) or a contraction (“Stop what your doing”).

So yes, let’s keep this going.  Specifically, let’s keep it going to the nearest grammatically inclined nun with sufficient upper body strength to take action.  I will air mail the 2’x4’.

And while she’s at it, Facebook has made me aware of a couple other pictorial theological attempts that should, in the words of the Book of Fife, be good and properly nipped.

In the bud.

barney fife

This next one is entitled, “Do you believe in angels?”

bad grammar angels

In my opinion, to get the full effect of the “do you believe in angels” schtick, you need to read it with a Brooklyn accent.  I’m also not entirely convinced that “angels” isn’t some sort of euphemism for the mob:

“Hey!  Hey, you!  Benny ‘n me – we heard ‘bout those problems you’ve been havin’.  An’ we jus’ came by to let you know, we’re gonna take care o’ them.  We gonna take care o’ them real good.  Now, just so we’re clear, we ain’ doin’ this for nothin’.  Someday, and that day may never come , we might be callin’ you to do us a little favor.  Know what I mean?  But for now, you can jus’ fuhgeddaboudit.  …So who we whackin’ again?”

Our last exhibit doesn’t so much fail the grammar test of Facebook spirituality as it does the test of logical thought.

bible cell phones

And here are the answers:

1. We’d have sore arms.

2. We’d be late.

3. We’d be issued a tinfoil hat.

4. We’d turn some heads at the ER.

5. We’d find a way to make it play Angry Birds.

If nothing else, all of this has given me a new understanding of history.  Romulus did not, in fact, slay Remus for jumping over his wall.  He slayed him for posting crap like this on his wall.  Not only was it the first documented homicide, it was, in the court of proper grammar (i.e., the only court that matters), the first documented justifiable homicide.

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Ms. Double Interrobang

by The Untamed Shrew and Rampage Productions

That cliché about judging a book by its cover?

It’s wrong.

It takes me a paragraph.  This was made very apparent to me when, upon enrolling in an online graduate program, I was tasked with my first assignment – a one-paragraph introduction to my digital classmates posted on the class discussion board.  No problem, I thought, forgetting I was an English major.  Ten minutes later, I was the first one done – my paragraph a beacon of hope and proper grammar for all to see.  Apparently, it was so awesome it blinded all who read it, for it took nearly seven days for the other responses to trickle in.  And then, even once those other responses trickled in, they were not text that could be read so much as deciphered.  That said and from what I could glean, the menagerie that is my classmates consists of the following:

Ms. Double Interrobang

Named for her favorite form of punctuation – the “?!?!” – she strikes me as one of those individuals for whom replays are just as exciting as real life.  Were she to be, hypothetically speaking, reincarnated in the Hindu tradition, she’d probably come back as a breed of dog with “miniature” tacked in front of its name.  Based on her grammar, she is simultaneously confused and startled by a wide range of topics, including her city of origin, her employment, her morning commute, dogs, babies, and jogging.

Ms. Messy Divorce

Despite the fact I have never met her, nor ever intend to meet her, and sincerely hope not to meet her, I know that she is currently going through “a messy divorce.”  She’s a big fan of clichés, alternating back and forth between such bold, declarative statements as “gonna live life to its fullest” and railing about her husband who left her for an iguana or whatever.

Mr. Nice to “Meet” You

This fellow is sort of a modern day Invisible Man in the Ralph Ellison tradition.  I don’t know anything about him.  No one knows anything about him.  He stubbornly refuses to post anything about his own state of being, but each time someone else introduces themselves, he responds by posting, “Nice to ‘meet’ you,” presumably under the impression that adding quotation marks to the statement made on an online message board makes it ironic and/or funny.   To be fair, he is generating some humor, but it’s not the sort he intends given you have exchanges like this happening:

Ms. Messy Divorce: My husband left me for an iguana.

Mr. Nice to “Meet” You: It’s nice to “meet” you!

Ms. Jammies

She proudly proclaims she has structured her days, nay her very existence, around being able to do things in her “jammies.”  Jammies, in this case, is what those of us over the age of four would term our pajamas.  She works from home… in her jammies.  She attends class… in her jammies.  Does she own pants?  Damned if we know, but why would she need to so long as she doesn’t engage the webcam?  Or, failing that, keep the view from the waist up.

Mr. Types with His Face

It takes a special sort of man to turn “no” into a four-letter word – and not that type of four-letter word.  Rather, a four-letter word that is wrong on every conceivable level: “nooe”.  Frankly, I’m pretty sure he just rams his forehead into the keyboard a few times, hits enter, and que sera, sera.

The Missing Link

They, personally, are missing a link – specifically, the link between their Smith Corona typewriter and the iPad 43 or whatever they were issued for the purpose of taking this class.  The Missing Link has offered one post to date wherein he/she does not acknowledge a gender but does acknowledge eligibility for an AARP card and a general sense of bafflement regarding anything not powered by steam.  His/her singular post is less an introduction than a cry for help with the requisite technology, begging, of course, the question of why he/she enrolled in an online program to begin with.

There are, of course, others amongst the colorful cast of characters assaulting the message boards.  However, time and space dictate that such a recanting must inevitably end.  Thus, I will not further detail the individual who chose a squatting toddler making a “gonna poop” face for their professional profile photo…or the individual who lists “covert ops” as an “interest” although they are currently unemployed and have never worked in law enforcement.  Yet of this much be assured: the online learning experience has imparted at least one bit of knowledge – the internet tubes’ filters aren’t strong enough.

English: Unabridged Awesomeness

Why is one of the most prevalent languages on Earth native to a tiny population housed on a chilly, soggy, remote island floating somewhere in the nondescript gray seas northwest of continental Europe?  (Well, aside from that embarrassing period of world colonization.)  The (other) answer: unabridged awesomeness, my friend.  Behold the following evidence:

1. Mongrel and proud

While other languages can be neatly classified into distinct points of origin – e.g., Germanic or Romantic – English is the bastard child of approximately fifty-three fathers, seventy-two mothers, and possibly a couple one-eyed sheep.  (Don’t think too hard about the biological mechanics.)  Yet rather than preoccupy itself with an identity crisis that requires decades of counseling to overcome, English has embraced its mongrel origins and flagrantly celebrates them.  “Yeah – the left blue eye came from my Celtic father, Seamus, the right brown eye came from my Roman mama, Francesca, the horned helmet was a gift from my Viking Aunt Brunhilda, and that patch of fur on my back – I got that from my Saxon Uncle Gottfried.  But the ruffly collar?  That was hand-knitted by Shakespeare himself.”

2. Unabashed thievery

If it sounds cool, we’ll wait for you in a dark alley, beat you over the head with our unabridged OED, pinch some nifty adjectives from your syntax, and go merrily on our way.  Don’t expect a billet-doux in acknowledgment.  But lest you accuse us of having carte blanche, of being ungrateful, and expect a mea culpaau contraire. You will get credit for your bon mots, creativity, et cetera in the illustrious Oxford English Dictionary.  Isn’t that thanks enough?  Besides, English is one of the few active preservers of the Latin language and is thus one of the few who will be linguistically prepared for the resurgence of the Roman Empire.  Don’t blame us for planning ahead where you have failed to do so.  The ant and the grasshopper and all that – ad nauseum.

3. Detail oriented

If you can conceive of a thought, English has already conceived of a word to express it.  How many languages have created a single word that means throwing someone out a window?  (If you don’t know the word I’m talking about, you ought to be defenestrated.)

4. Bountiful synonym buffet

If you want to call someone a blithering idiot, English does not bind you to a single mode of expression.  Rather, it invites you feast upon the Synonymous Buffet/Cafeteria/Lunch Wagon/Salad Bar/Snackery/Smorgasbord, the menu of which is a tome dedicated entirely to documenting a nearly infinite number of synonyms for every word of the language.  Thus, rejoice that you find yourself not merely surrounded by blithering idiots but also by blabbering blockheads, driveling dimwits, jibbering jerks, and prattling pinheads.

5. Not for the faint of heart

First case in point: English does not bind itself to the laws that govern sane men.  In fact, it doesn’t even apply the same laws equitably to itself.  Consider, for instance, that the prefix “in-” frequently negates things (e.g., The invariableness of your inattention to that inexpensive gnome is indefensible.), and one might reasonably assume that their “inflammable” suit of armor is “not flammable.”  But then, while standing nonchalantly by a roaring fireplace, they will burst into flames that cause them to simultaneously sing the praises of the incomprehensible richness of the English language – and curse the negligence of their ESL teacher.  Because that’s how we roll.  Logic be damned.  Can’t keep up?  Scurry on back to your German class, fräulein.

Second case in point: Rhyming in Romantic languages is for sissies.  When 99% of words end with a vowel, writing a poem is a matter of closing your eyes, throwing some darts at your Italian dictionary, and seeing where they land:

Here’s some garlic to mangia / It’s goes-a good with your pasta.

But try finding something that rhymes with “orange” – go ahead, I dare you.

6. The hellacious homophone

Thanks to a host of words that are spelled the same as other words – but mean something entirely different – and words that sound like other words – but mean something entirely different, English speakers may claim themselves masters of the most majestic – and deadly – of the linguistic arts – the Pun.  Only in English can you see an eye doctor on an Alaskan island and later discover they’re actually an optical Aleutian.  Only in English do we realize that propaganda is really a gentlemanly goose.  And only in English is such a romantic tale possible: She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.  The solemn elegance of the homophone is perhaps best immortalized by Larry the Cucumber in the following Veggie Tales musical tribute:

7. Darwinian advantage

In the sea of constant linguistic change, English has demonstrated immense adaptability – akin to an evolutionary marvel with the quickness of the cheetah, the breadth of the hippopotamus, the foresight of the giraffe, the cuteness factor of the bunny, and the cynicism of the platypus.  (Because you cannot have the bill of a duck, the body of an otter, the butt of a beaver, and freakin’ poison spurs in your feet without being something of a pessimist.  It just isn’t allowed.)  Over time, English has responded to various invasions and intrusions by nimbly absorbing and internally digesting those foreigners – (cue music) beware of the Blob:

Challenge us to an arm wrestling match, and we’ll digest your arm clean off – slowly, over the course of a few centuries.  Meanwhile, the paranoid French attempt to maintain some semblance of “linguistic purity” by quickly quashing the influence of foreign tongues upon their language.  (Has anyone recently checked their courriel?  Didn’t think so.)  Why engage in fruitless worded warfare (a literal tête-à-tête) when one could instead quietly vanquish said intruders by giving them a big old hug while rifling through their back pockets and relieving them of a noun or six?  Yes, you Frenchies may have made au naturel sound cool, but English stuck a flag in it and added the connotation of naked awesomeness.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Japanese adverb I’ve been eyeing – if you know what I mean.