December 7, 2008
Of late, I’ve grown more and more concerned by the condition of the English language. The grammar teacher in me (she’s still in there somewhere, even if she hasn’t been in a classroom in nearly 16 years) gets a little bent out of shape by a few of the common mistakes she hears time and time again. Here are a couple of the biggest:
Acronym versus abbreviation: If you can say it as a word, like “scuba” or “NASA,” it’s an acronym. If you have to pronounce each letter individually, like PDQ or USA, it’s an abbreviation.
Reflexive pronouns: A verb takes a reflexive pronoun if it is something you do to yourself: you can dress yourself, talk to yourself, pleasure yourself (sorry, couldn’t help it), etc. But you cannot tell someone, “If you have any questions, please call myself or Bob.” If someone else is doing the action, the correct pronoun is “Call me or Bob.”
As a bonus, my pet peeve is use of ampersands instead of “and.” Can you really tell me it’s easier to type shift-8 (&) than a-n-d? In my mind, it’s lazy and improper grammar to use that character instead of the word. My colleagues tease me unmercifully about this, to the point where one day I went out to my car to discover that the windows had been covered with chapstick ampersands. It took me week to notice there was one on the sunroof.
Okay, I feel a little better now.