This is a serious question, and one that has always puzzled me. It relates to the increasing number of folk who consistently use your, you’re, their, there, they’re, lose, loose, affect, effect, its, it’s, ensure, insure and similar terms incorrectly.
What do these folk think when they see the terms used correctly? Do they cringe and wonder why most folk have no idea, or do they just not notice? Are they oblivious, or are they wilful?
In England the overwhelming majority of motor car drivers cheerfully, thankfully, simply copy the actions of others and drive on the left-hand side of the road. They move in a clockwise direction around roundabouts, stop at red lights and screech off only at amber. The vast, if not actually overwhelming, majority will follow a crowd through doors marked “Entrance” and leave via doors marked “Exit”. The be-hooded youth (the “yoof”) have taught each other an entire, if utterly meaningless, panoply of strange finger-signals quite inaccessible to anyone of more mature years who may have a touch of arthritis or incipient carpal tunnel syndrome. Virtually our entire population move as a herd, stampeding towards their credit cards at the merest hint of the release of a new electronic toy. Damn it, millions upon millions watch the same television programmes, they go to work within a hour or so of each other, they come home in a mob and they all shop for food at ASDA or TESCO or HARRODS or wherever, buying the same oysters, drinking the same wines and wearing the same UMBRO tracksuits. If someone shouts “jump” they all, as one, jump.
Why then does this growing army of language-shagging numbnuts not also follow the mode in the matter of the very simple terms there, their and they’re?
Why has exposure to the [largely, still] correct environment of advertisements and product markings and magazine or newspaper articles not encouraged the theiy’re masses to simply follow, for fear of being seen as separate from the herd?When such folk hear others in the asylum exercise yard saying “There are nuts over there, they’re nuts, let us go and kick them in their nuts” why do they never seem to wonder where the “are” disappears to, or how there/they’re/their to them seems to mean three different things, or why other people have three variant spellings of what they think is just one word?
I dunno [sic]. I’m serious though in my curiosity. What is the thought process? Is there a thought process? If they stumble across these words (and others) in isolation or without context, do they just guess at the meaning?
Given the level of wax in most people’s ears these days it’s quite understandable that some of these errors have arisen with homonyms. Most people these days speak as though moving their lips, tongues and epiglottis requires some unthinkable waste of energy. The difference is surely obvious though on first glance at most FaceBook posts, so why is it not obvious enough to trigger the herd instinct?
Language is a code, and the more you bugger about with the rules the less intelligible the code becomes. As a certain gentleman once said on the radio during a time of some tribulation:
I have, myself, full comphidance that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arangements are made, as their being made, we shall prove arse elves once again able too defend are Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tympany, if necessary four years, if necessary a loan. At any rate, that is what we are gonna try too do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Goverment – every man, of them. That is the will of Parliment and the nation. The Bridish Empire an the French Re-public, linked togever in they’re cause and in they’re need, will defend to the deaf they’re native soil, aiding each other like good comrades too the utmost of they’re strengf. Even though large tracks of Europe and meny ole an fey mouse States are falled or wilfallin to the gripe of the Gestarpo anall the odius aparattus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail We shal go on to the end, we shal fite in france, we shal fite on the sees and oceans we shal fite wiv groweing confidance an groewing strengf in the air we shal de-fend are eye land watever the cost may bee we shal fite on the beeches we shal fight on the land-ing grounds we shal fite in the feelds an in the stretes we shal fite in the hilles we shal nevva surender and evenif which I donot four amomentebeleivethis I land ora largepartofitweresubjurgated an starvin,thenOurEmpirebeyondtheseesaremdand garded by the BritishFletewouldcaryonthestruggeluntillinGodsgoodthymetheneworldwivallit’spowerandmitestepsfourthtotherescyouandthelibationoftheold oiiagv[o08ut4q0484nlgn[oa83u83nflanepi4iuuwpitndgih etcetera, etcetera, etcetera as the King of Siam once said.
[not forgetting, of course, the rising pitch at the end of what is not, in fact, a question, yeah?]
Ugly, innit? Lose the code, lose the structure and you lose the message. You might as well just put your hand on the cave wall and spit ochre all over it, because that’s the only way you’ll ever transmit a message to the future.
All I ask is two fings.
Firstly, for the sake of my gnarzi blood-pressure, please just do your best.
Secondly, someone please, please, please tell me why seeing decent grammar in the majority of communications doesn’t seem to raise so much as even a mild concern among those who loose they’re mind when their writing.
Talk clear. Do right. Write grammatical.
E&OE, fnarr fnarr.
[Wanders off towards the horizon with a tear in this eye and a quite uncontrollable demonic chuckle rising in his froat.]