411 Focus

When a Wheel of Fortune contestant asks to buy "a A, a E"... I scream aloud; then I'm thankful for choir directors

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

Grammar Patrol: Nothing from nothing ...

Okay. I’m a lexophile, I’m a grammarphile, and, when I was younger, I was a bibliophile. Those sound pretty “phile,” don’t they? You might think you have not a clue about those words up there, but you know that Philadelphia is “the city of brotherly love,” so you’re partway there already. Now, if you need any more help, the “brother” part comes at the end.

If you haven’t figured out all of the words, I know you have mastered one of them. Yep, I’m a grammarholic. Bad grammar boggles my mind. It rumples my forehead! It gives me a headache. Needless to say, I have a lot of headaches, some of them gifts from friends, and even former students. Let me share some of the horrors. Hopefully, they’re not yours, or, if so, you’ll be moved to ditch them when you see them referenced here.

One thing that drives me bonkers is using – a or the – (pronounced thuh) before a vowel sound. When a Wheel of Fortune contestant asks to buy “a A, a E, a U, or a O,” or some other vowel, I scream aloud, glare at the contestant, and instantly get a splitting headache! My brain bangs inside my head. How can someone manage to put two sounds together… that actually fight with each other?

At times like that, I am so thankful for choir directors, for no bonafide choir director will allow the choir to sing, “Thuh angel came from heaven…” It sounds horrible! The sounds attack each other! How can a singer not feel the discord?

Then there is the problem of personal pronouns, when to use nominative case, and when objective, especially when more than one person is involved. People have no problem saying “Invite him,” or “Invite me,” but cannot bring themselves to say, “Invite him and me,” saying instead, “him and I” If you invite him, why wouldn’t you invite me? Both of us will go to the same party! We’re still the same people! “And” is a conjunction. It doesn’t have that kind of power!

The only thing and can do is join two things. It cannot change either of them! Teachers would tell their students, “Take each separately: ‘Invite him. Invite me.’ Then put them back together…without changing either of them!

Alas! It could not happen! Some grammar devil interfered, convincing the writer – or speaker – that there had to be a change made!

Yet I cannot give up. One day, the mist will disappear and the deep, dark mystery of reflexive pronouns will clear, and newscasters will finally realize that none can be singular… or plural, that “none of the passengers” is plural, while “none of the food” is singular… that it all depends on whether it is counted, or measured.

Sometimes the stuff just doesn’t make sense. How can you count – or measure – nothing…?

Story Posted:02/03/2018

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