Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Grammar is not as sweet as chocolate is? Whom cares!

Get ready to spend more, if you love chocolate, appears to be the advice from the Wall Street Journal:

Doesn't surprise me one bit; people in the old country have always had one heck of a sweet tooth, and with better transport and refrigeration chocolate becomes way easier to sell to a rapidly growing middle class.
"Emerging-market demand is the principle reason behind the steady and consistent rise that we've seen in the cocoa market," said Sterling Smith, a futures specialist at Citigroup in Chicago.
Read that quote again.

Did you?

Notice something that troubled you, like it was some stale nut in a chocolate bar?  (BTW, if you ever gift me chocolate, make sure it is plain and simple chocolate, without nuts or fruits!)

Did you spot that it was "principle" when it should have been "principal"?
Principal derives by way of French from the Latin term principalis, meaning “first in importance.” In English, it initially referred to a ruler, but the word also came to be associated with an amount of money on which interest is paid, because that sum is first in terms of priority and the interest (one hopes) is a relative small amount.
Principle, by contrast, though it was originally merely a spelling variant, came to mean “proposition or truth,” and later “law of nature” and “rule of conduct.” And, unlike principal, it does not serve as an adjective except in the form of principled.
Assuming that I am indeed on the correct side of the grammar accounting ledger, if we have problems with a language that is the lingua franca of the future, too, then, well, whom who cares, eh!
What, then, can we predict English will lose if the process goes on? An easy choice seems to be “whom”. English was once heavily inflected; all nouns carried a suffix showing whether they were subjects, direct objects, indirect objects or played some other role in a sentence. Today, only the pronouns are inflected. And while any competent speaker can use I, me, my and mine correctly, even the most fluent can find whom (the object form of who) slippery. So whom might disappear completely, or perhaps only survive as a stylistic option in formal writing.
It's not only whom that might disappear but perhaps the apostrophe too?
A battle is being waged over the apostrophe, and the names of two of the online factions—the Apostrophe Protection Society and Kill the Apostrophe—suggest an extremism usually reserved for blood, rather than ink or pixels. The former, founded by a retired British copy editor, provides a gentle guide to deploying the apostrophe. “It is indeed a threatened species!” the site warns, a little preciously. The Web site Kill the Apostrophe, meanwhile, argues that the mark “serves only to annoy those who know how it is supposed to be used and to confuse those who dont.”
So, in the very near future, chocolate-devouring English speakers of the world wont (hehe) be able to understand that awesome joke about "eats shoots and leaves" I guess.

What?  You dont (hehe) know the joke?
[A panda] goes into a bar, asks for a ham sandwich, eats it and then takes out a revolver and fires it into the air. When the publican asks him what on earth he is doing, he throws a book on to the bar and growls: 'This is a badly punctuated wildlife manual. Look me up.' The barman flicks through the book and, under the relevant entry, reads: 'PANDA. Large, black-and-white, bear-like mammal native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.'


Ramesh said...

The Grammar Nazi is back ....

Sriram Khé said...

He never went away ;)

Most read this past month