4 signs your marriage to the English language is on the rocks

Are you one of those people who think cracking a ‘Yo mama so fat’ joke is the winning come back in an argument? Do you find yourself writing ‘Dear’ in work emails at an increasingly alarming rate only to discover that it was never really used to address someone? Have all your Ws been replaced by Vs (What = Vot, When = Ven, and so on)? The past and present tense have become one big blur? ‘Imma let you finish’ is more than just a Kanye West rant to you?

 If all this sounds familiar, it is just as you feared. You, my friend, suffer from the mid-life crisis that is common to all marriages with the English Language.

Yo Wesbter! I’m real happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but Oxford is the best dictionary of ALL time!

Big flowing words just don’t do it for you like they used to. Watching My Fair Lady makes you lose your temper and beat up your kids. Work emails don’t require proper grammar, well, because grammar is for controlling infidels! You secretly long to beatbox with your friends till your fist and the drool on your face becomes one; your drawers are full of hidden notebooks with words like ‘duz’ and ‘lyke’ scribbled on the pages; and adjectives, adverbs, commas and exclamation marks that demand to be placed in the right place make you want to throw up.

You can’t take this controlling atmosphere anymore!

I have just one thing to say to you. Stop with the nonsense, YA hear! (See what I did there? It’s all about the reverse psychology); we’re going to try and sort this relationship out.

You can’t just hop from one language to the other (or in many cases, to gibberish). The first step to recovery is accepting the fact that you have a problem. We’re going to break it down to the 4 major signs that are a guaranteed way of determining whether its time to reach out for the nearest Dictionary/Thesaurus or whether its time to swallow your pride and just call Dr. Phil.

Isn’t it about time you start saying ‘YES’ to others and stop saying ‘YES to you?’

(Is this the kind of guy you want telling you what to do?)

Look, I can’t really blame ya (still on the reverse psychology). This mid-life crisis has been all the rage since them damn Hip Hoppers came on the scene. Who can resist a little black ass, err I mean, talk. It’s the bare minimum (hey, shame on you!), it’s simple and there’s a nice little melody to it. Who wants to say ‘Hello, how are you doing today?’, when a simple ‘Yo!’ summarizes everything you wanted to say perfectly. See, with a ‘Yo’ you can ask a dozen questions just by changing how you pronounce it.

Yo! : Hey! I’m having a great day, you?

Yeow!: Lets go hit the gym tonight, ya?

Youw?: You no get me ice-cream?:(

Anyway, we’re digressing, and not everything can be blamed on the advent of Hip Hop/Rap. There are other ways of killing this relationship, more subtle ways that come out in embarrassing moments, and result in unemployment (research shows that it is important to mention something related to the economy in order to write a successful article).

So let’s move on to the 4 signs of impending doom, shall we.

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# 4 – Spelling Mistakes becoming normal routine

We’ve all been there, the U’s instead of the E’s, the Here and Hear phenomenon. It’s not uncommon my friend, so don’t you worry about that. What you should worry about is when this doesn’t stay a mistake anymore, it becomes a HABIT. What was once a mistake (their instead of there or desert instead of dessert), becomes a lifestyle choice! ‘Here’ is off on vacation, having been permanently replaced by ‘hr’, and of course joined by the ranks of ‘duz’, ‘swt (sweet)’ and all the Zs (whoz, watz, thankz, and so on).

Look here, son. The Z is at the end of the alphabet for a reason. It wants to be in last place, it demands to be used less frequently, its plain lazy and happy to be that way. Stop messing with the system! Also, people like Lil John get paid to talk like that. Let me know if someone’s been willing to provide you with cash in return for your lip service (Oi! Get your filthy mind out of the gutter already; we’re a PG 13 site). And yes, you observed correctly, Lil John is indeed black (making it his birthright to shout out random letters at the top of his lungs. Hell, he’s allowed to make chart-topping songs out of them). Last time you checked, your momma wasn’t black, was she?

You’ll thank us some day.

The Verdict:

Don’t be fooled by this being Sign No.1, these are not in ascending order. This sign is one of the more serious ones, and it shows a serious lack of commitment and complete disrespect for the relationship you claimed to have had with the English Language. Just because you’ve found something new and fancy (fancy being a relative term here), does not mean you do a complete 180. A slap in the face, solitary confinement (meaning no TV, no iPod, no jewelry), and 2 months of watching nothing but Rex Harrison movies may do the trick. We’re sorry it has to be this extreme, but hey, we’ll let you keep the Missy Elliot poster. And if this doesn’t work, then it’s off to Dr. Phil for you (don’t say we didn’t give you the easy way out!)

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# 3 – Tense mix-ups creeping up on you

There are all kinds of people in this world. Some are like the specimen mentioned above, and their chosen path is more towards losing letters, growing dreadlocks, learning the art of spitting, screeching and speaking at the same time, and twisting the meaning of the term ‘Quality is better than Quantity’. There’s another kind as well. This kind lost its sense of time and place at some point in the relationship, and chose to put a sci-fi spin on it to make things ‘interesting’.

Sound familiar? Words like ‘tensed’ and ‘jealoused’ are so frequent in conversation that people start avoiding you because you’re confusing them as well. You start getting replies to work e-mails demanding work that was overdue because you wrote it all in the past tense! And it’s alright if you realize what you’re doing and make an effort to fix it. But if you start behaving like this is how the language works and we’re all buffoons, well then don’t come crying to us with ‘‘w w… wedgie’’ stuttering out of your mouth. Giving examples of a space time continuum and worm holes that allow tenses to transcend time will only result in more beatings.

The‘o’ goes in and comes out on the other side as a ‘z’ because what seemed like seconds has actually been years, see!

The Verdict:

This can be fixed easily; you’re safe from the prying (literally *shudder*) hands of Dr. Phil for now. Since you don’t show signs of dropping half the letters in your words leaving only two at best (refer to Sign 1), it’s safe to bet on your relationship having a full recovery. All you need is a 2 month course on Basic Grammar, and perhaps a new job.

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# 2 – Lapsing into monosyllables (Blast! It’s those big words again)

Vocabulary. The very word makes you shudder and hide under the covers for safety. That horrible demon that insists on being shoved down your throat by books, teachers, pseudo-intellectuals who judge you on how difficult your words are (the more words they don’t understand, the more they like you. It’s a pseudo-intellectual thing), and even parents (Hah! Our child just used ‘nymphomaniac’ in a sentence, can yours?) This pressure to know big words has resulted in having an opposite effect on some people. Instead of trying to learn new words, they’ve stopped using words altogether.

The thing is, I’m not an advocate of big words myself (notice how I’ve used next to none in this article), because hey, my vocabulary is in shambles. But to stop using words altogether and to replace them with masterpieces such as ‘lawl (yes, this is the third generation of what used to be ‘laugh out loud)’, ‘jk (just kidding – we wish!)’, and ‘omg (Oh my God)’ is heading into dangerous territory. You’re really in danger if you’ve actually starting speaking like that too ‘He did what?! Oh em geee! Oh em geee!’.

The Verdict:

If you’ve started speaking in twisted monosyllables, that’s almost as dangerous as Sign no.1. It shows how utterly indifferent you are towards the language; perhaps you feel the language has lost its spark and you’d rather just get by with what few letters you want to throw together. Let’s hope that’s the case! Because then there is hope, my friend. To avoid getting in any deeper you must remember the following things:

– MIRC was eons ago; people don’t talk like that in real life. Get off the internet and have a REAL conversation.

– Screeching out letters strung together may bring short term enthusiasm and acceptance, but it will also result in long term labeling (think of your future children!)

However, if you lapse into monosyllables just because, and you think that’s exactly how one should write/text/speak, then I’m sorry, all hope is lost. Because you may not have realized it but, the English Language, man she left you a long time ago.

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# 1 – Dropping of prepositions (prepa-who?)

The thing about this language is that it’s just a tad too complicated. Adverbs, prepositions, acronyms, similes, there’s just no end. Other people in a similar relationship share your frustration. They have days where they just wanted to throw ‘being proper’ out the window and blurt a few nasty things out. Turns out that feeling of chucking ‘being proper’ out the window goes a bit too far at times and one ends up dropping a few very key words completely. Sometimes the meaning of the sentence comes into question, ‘Have you complete report? (Makes one wonder whether the question is regarding a report being completed, or whether one is being asked if the entire report is indeed present and half of it isn’t on holiday’). It gets worse over time, ‘Give message time, please’ (the ‘on’ got trampled on).

The Verdict:

While this Sign is common and not a very serious indication of the relationship going south, it is better to tame the beast before things get ugly. If someone sends you work emails that are a preposition nightmare, the normal thing to do would be not to respond in kind. Try to keep it simple, and try not to get too excited about the new feelings this use of less words is giving you. It’s short lived, because sooner or later someone is going to take that preposition drop seriously and before you know it you’re going to be spending most of your time giving explanations of what you really meant.

There you have it folks, the 4 signs that help determine if the water is as deep as it looks. We’ve all experienced at least one of the above, and we’ve all felt compelled to just plunge into the depths of temporary separation and try something new. But no matter how sexy those vowels seem, no matter how appealing the prospect of using only letters to represent an entire sentence looks, just remember that you brought this burden upon yourself. You choose this language, you ran after it desperate for some form of gratification, and a strange urge to be accepted. Keep in mind that this serves as more of a guideline than a self help book, hence these signs may be spot on or they may be off by miles. Either way, do yourself a favor and give the language the attention she deserves…

or try Urdu for a change.

Fiza Waheed is a Humanitarian (a real one) by day, and a wandering space cadet by night.

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One Comment on “4 signs your marriage to the English language is on the rocks”

  1. mariasusername
    July 24, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Rest assured, this made me laugh out loud. (Why, that wasn’t difficult at all!)

    Rex Harrison movies! 😀 And “Last time you checked, your momma wasn’t black, was she?” Hahahahaha! Shit. Good stuff, Fiza.

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