Mariner is a noticer. While watching poor broadcasting content on television, he is prone to dissecting the tiniest elements of advertisements looking for irrelevant but irregular details. The most common error is lack of continuity between different takes of the same scene. His favorite commercial is two young men obviously from a low income neighborhood in Philadelphia, PA. They are espousing the wonderful Philly steak sandwich that is a trademark of Philadelphia. As they speak, there is only the tiniest relationship to English. Their elocution is so bad and is subject to colloquial expression that one cannot understand a word they are saying. Mariner misses that commercial.

He mentions this because though not intended as such, ‘noticing’ can be prudish. He used to be a prude about language. For example, during his teen years, pop music shifted from lyrics that were understood to lyrics that were no more than vowel slurs. Today, the art of incomprehensible lyrics is an art form of its own competing with the lyrics of opera. Elocution, along with cursive legibility, long have been absent from our education syllabus.

Further, mariner is an advocate of having a large lexicon, which is having lots of words at hand to provide specificity and nuance in writing and conversation. He is a fan of George Carlin who believed there weren’t enough words; George pointed this out by focusing on seven ‘unacceptable’ curse words whose meanings were specific emotional expressions that could not easily be replaced by acceptable words. Still, mariner has noticed that easy elocution displaces standard elocution. It has taken years of explanation from his philologist friend Robert to accept that language is subject to changing convenience both written and spoken. He and mariner often exchange colloquialisms like ‘skoeet’ – a full sentence.

One of the most entrenched changes that separates written language from spoken language is the word ‘wud’. For clarification, mariner will use it in a sentence: “Wudjoodo?” Still not sure? How about “Wudydo?”

Oh well, don’t blame prudishness, blame old age. Mariner grew up in a low income neighborhood. It wasn’t until he was sixteen when his father moved the family to a middle class town that mariner realized he said ‘nuffin’ instead of ‘nothing.’

A final thought about cursive. It is truly obsolete. Internet based communication has established a new age where letters, if one must use them, are intensely abbreviated (widely known example: LOL). Letters can be avoided if one chooses to create a glyph. We do the ancient Egyptians proud (We haven’t discussed grammar).

Only recently we have seen that chickens can learn to peck simple decisions. So can smartphone users.

Ancient Mariner


4 thoughts on “Notices

  1. You truly are becoming a grumpy old man. New language, like technology, is passing us by. Legible handwriting and grammar are not important to this generation. While I too am prudish regarding grammar, spelling is my pet peeve. I always tell youngsters ( anyone under the age of 40) that if they can’t spell a word, they can’t use it.

  2. Stu and I notice that on TV – both scripted and unscripted – people use incorrect pronouns ALL THE TIME. Things like, “It’s a great opportunity for Ed and I” instead of “Ed and me” and vice versa.

    As for text shorthand, “nmu” took me a minute to decipher the first time I saw it.
    A: What’s up?
    B: nmu

    … Not much. You?

  3. Wonderful post! Yes, language rolls on like an unstoppable juggernaut, and we can only look helplessly as sounds change or disappear, treasured idioms disappear and words lose their meanings. I could fill a page with changes that sadden me. One I really dislike is the constant use of “awesome” for trivial things like a new dress or a Big Mac. These are not awesome, Krakatoa blowing up was awesome. The Big Bang was awesome. I also despair when I watch as a final D disappears or becomes T. I head DITN’T all the file for DIDN’T. So, all I can do is try to use words as correctly as I know how and try to add a few good old words like “vouchsafe” and “whom.” The Book of Common prayer and the King James Bible are great places to see the beauties of the English language.

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