Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Weep For My Mother Tongue

So, I'm watching the podcast today of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates talking shop, and I'm amazed at how these people are all (I include the two underwhelming interviewers) are making the same grammatical mistake repeatedly. Basic subject/verb agreement shit. Two of these people are demonstrably not dumbasses (although one of the hosts clearly is- Jobs, on the subject of his disinclination to comment on new things said he'd previously been chastised by employees who had described Apple as a "ship that leaked from the top". There was a pause as she thought about that and then said that she didn't "get it" and that a "sweater with no sleeves is a vest" Fucking idiots...).

So, as a free service to the best and brightest of Silicon Valley, here are the grammatical rules that were broken:

There is, or "there's" goes with a singular noun. Example- "There is the fucking moon"

There are. or "there're" if you are committed to contractions or mumbling, goes with plural items. Example: There are a bunch of assholes.

I heard sentences like "There's computers that will... (fix my fucking atrocious grammar?)" throughout this show. Billions of dollars in the bank and they can't speak like a native (as in "native English speaker" - don't get off on a racist tangent here). I mean honestly- what do you learn in any foreign language study right away? The words for being- "I am", "He is", "You are". This is basic stuff, and I'm amazed at the allegedly smart people that have yet to learn it.



Blogger meno said...

I'd go link this video, but i don't know where it's at.

(That one is one of my annoyances.)

7:38 PM  
Blogger slaghammer said...

I have an old book on the shelf called “Mother Tongue.” It primarily deals with the origins of the English Language and interestingly points out that an amazingly high number of the most commonly used words in the English language are Saxon, if I remember correctly.
A secondary premise of the book is the inevitability of change with some change bringing welcome relief. Contemporarily speaking, some of that relief is coming from recognition that Latin and English, after being forcibly glued, nailed, and wedged together by the church in ancient times, should be granted a divorce, or at least sleep in separate bedrooms. Regardless of how logical or workable that scenario might be, I think within thirty years, English as we know it today will be a mostly forgotten dialect.
Consider the words, reconize, probly, nukular, exscape, and dud’n, as in, he “dud’n” know the correct “pronownciation” of the word, recognize.
Consider my own inept punctuation and grammar, and I actually give a shit.

12:21 AM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

They don't distinguish between singular and plural in Japanese.

There is no such device, other than to say many or give an actual number.

That makes more sense to me...

11:40 AM  
Blogger Judith said...

Is it me or is Jobs and Gates at a Hare Krishna convention ??(see audience; plus the only female that seems to be there is up on stage)

1:29 PM  
Blogger General Catz said...

Some friends and i had a lively discussion about this very thing recently. I've now noticed it numerous times. I figure it's because people tend to change their minds halfway through a sentence as to what they're going to say that they speak this way.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Stucco said...

Meno- oh yeah, that's another one. Ending sentences with prepositions. Although I do like the Churchill quote: "This is the sort of language, up with I shall not put"

Slag- explain this one if you dare. "Funna", as in "I'm funna go to
the store".

Scott- Is it my untrained ear, or does everything in Japanese sound angry?

Judith- It's a cult to be sure. I don't think they hang out at the airport though. As for girls- these guys have "challenges".

Catzy- you may be right, however if that is the case, then the mouth needs to slow down and let the brain catch up. Must be a product of too much Fox "News", where volume trumps meaning.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Committed to contractions, so long as they are done correctly. I'd've, you'd've, we'd've, they'd've.

3:43 PM  
Blogger mrschili said...

Oh, DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED! Subject/verb agreement pisses me off, to the point where I wrote a Grammar Wednesday post about it a while back. "There's a million reasons why you shouldn't date that guy." The subject there is REASONS - not "a million" - so the verb should be ARE! GAH!

5:39 PM  
Blogger Vulgar Wizard said...

I have one thing to say . . .


And I can't make it stop.

9:27 AM  

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