Thursday, January 1, 2009


I have, from a very young age, had to work to dumb down my speech and writing. Really, as bad as I am now, as a teen, Troop would have had to beat me up on sheer principle. It took me years to master the word "ain't".

Of course, referring to it as "dumbing down" is somewhat pretentious in itself. It's a combination of reducing vocabulary and using simpler, smaller or more common words and slang, using simpler grammatical constructions but primarily being concerned with communication.

That's what it's all about, ultimately, right? Communication?

A lot of grammar is contrived. That is to say, it's bullshit. Not ending a sentence with a preposition, for example, is one of many Latin rules that were imposed on English that just don't make sense. It's one thing to champion a rule for the sake of consistency if it doesn't sacrifice any clarity, but the preposition thing results in some highly convoluted phrasings.

One I've given up recently is the use of "their" for "his or her". I've gone from using "his" (meaning "his or her") to phrasing sentences so that "their" agreed with the verb ("The children open their presents" versus "Each child opens his presents") to just using their, even though it doesn't agree ("Each child opens their presents."). My justification is the 1,000+ years prior to the subject-verb agreement rule where English speakers have used "their" with no ramifications.

I was thinking of this because I've given up on "Yeah!" I think most people see that and pronounce the "eah" as though it were the same vowel sound as in "bat", which it can be. But it can also sound like the vowel in "bay".

Problem is, in writing, as an exclamation, it's not really useful. If I write:


You don't know if I'm doing an Austin Powers "Yeah, baby!" or if I'm cheering for something.

So I've broken down and started using:


This post is really just a not gentle reminder that your host is a serious word nerd.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. what about "yea"

    just kidding

  4. Thy art most geelful in thine countance dear sir nonetheless.


Grab an umbrella. Unleash hell. Your mileage may vary. Results not typical. If swelling continues past four hours, consult a physician.