Monday, February 05, 2007


Not to worry, this is not a gripe session about illegal immigrants. (I could very well do that, but at this point I feel that the language issue is one of lesser importance in that debate.) This is about good ol' American nationals who have been here for generations but have somewhere, I assume, skipped way too many English classes--for generations.

I realize that I live in the land of milk and honey and misused adverbs, but even I was stunned the other day by a customer service phone call I participated in. I'd come home to a message on my machine about furniture that was ready for pick-up. We'd purchased furniture from this store, but there was nothing remaining that had not been picked up or delivered long ago. So already, someone had screwed up. And I was bracing myself for having to tell the situation over several times, as businesses never seem to hire the brightest bulbs for their customer service.

Well, having called the number that was left for me, and being redirected (not through a transfer--I had to REDIAL and pick a different option) I was on the line with a young lady for whom I again explained that I expected no furniture. She then queried, "You got no service call scheduled or nothing?"


She asked if I was still there. Yes, I was there. In a slight state of shock. I strained to answer her, fighting the urge to correct her. Didn't she stand in need of correction? But was it my place? If not mine, whose? Thankfully, the conversation ended relatively quickly after that. It was truly difficult for me to converse with an adult who would unabashedly use such grammar at all, let alone during the business day. As a professional. If I ran across a professional Rocky Balboa impersonator, that would be a different story. That would be fun.

#3 comes home with all sorts of 1st grade "language." And right or wrong, it takes me 10 or more repetitions of "butt" in her giggly little potty voice for me to register that I need to take action. "Ain't got no . . .," only one.

I'm no grammar snob. I'll let my participles dangle. I'll end a thought with a preposition. I use the American "you" in place of the more proper "one." I even find incomplete sentences can add interest and emphasis. My spoken "been" rhymes with "zen," not "seen."

But please, if you're working with the public, at least be able to PRETEND you made it past 1st grade. Or you may hear some potty language comin' from me.

2 fishy comments:

Jenn said...'ve hit upon one of my biggest pet peeves. I agree with you completely - a few Americanisms and casual speech don't bother me at all, but truly horrendous grammar is like nails on a chalkboard!

Laura Lou said...

I feel complelled to finalyy add a comment. Let me add an AMEN SISTER to your rantings. I've nearly been brought to histerics by the commonly used "we was" instead of "we were" here in the state of Utah. The locals actually went so far to include it in one of their commercials. I have to turn my TV off when it comes on. I feel my toe hairs absouletly curl in knots at the sound of poor grammar.