Sunday, May 25, 2014

I'm baaaack...prepare yourselves.

Over 200 essays and a month later I'm taking a break from grading and preparing to enjoy the warm months. Unfortunately for you, I have a couple bones to pick with the general public. No, I'm not perfect, but I try to be cognizant of saying things that just don't make sense. Do you find these things irritating, or do you even notice?

Fewer vs. Less
Ok, folks. I know that I'm an English teacher, but still...let's get this correct. Most people use "less" interchangeably with "fewer," and that's just not right when you look at the denotations of the words. 

Less should be used when the amount of something isn't readily quantified. If a large body of water suffers evaporation from extreme heat, it's acceptable to say "Wow! The lake has less water in it than last week." I can't quantify the amount of water previously or currently present in the lake; therefore, I notice that there's less than before. 

Fewer should be used when the amount of something can be easily quantified. If a bag of M&M's suddenly seems a bit lighter, the bag contains fewer M&M's, not less. Assuming the number of servings on the package is quantified (it normally is) and/or the M&M's were counted before initial consumption, it is acceptable to say, "Hey! I have fewer M&M's in my bag. Someone's about to draw back a nub..."

The moral of this story: Fewer and Less should not be used interchangeably, but the world will tolerate it because most people don't give a rat's patoot.

Summer vs. Spring
Let's go back to the days of elementary bulletin boards outlining the days of the week, months of the year, holidays, birthdays, and SEASONS. Every season has a designated start and end date, yet we insist on treating Spring like the neglected child of Mother Nature. Everyone rejoices as the dark abyss of Winter breaks into Spring with dewy mornings, fresh blooms, and crispy cool evenings. That lasts for approximately two weeks until we, here in TN, experience a blast of 80-90 degree weather that makes Spring look like Summer's beyotch. Suddenly, we forget to call Spring Spring and we automatically dub the hot weather Summer. Yes, being out of school for a period of time does signify "summer break"; however, we actually have more of a "spring" break melded with the beginning of Summer which actually signifies our start back to school, typically marked by thoughts of Fall.  Did you follow that? 

Oh, and for the record: whether or not that silly little groundhog sees his shadow is completely irrelevant. Calendar wise, Winter is scheduled to last six more weeks regardless. So there. 

The moral of this story: check your dates. Tennesseans should be thankful for experiencing four seasons, as other places don't get the luxury. Each deserves its own credit. I'm going to bat for you, Spring!

Especially, Supposedly, Picture, and Library
People, people, people. ESpecially is not to be confused with EXpecially which is, much to your chagrin, NOT A WORD. ESpecially is the only acceptable way to say this word, so please put your "x" away and give "s" his due credit. 

SupposEDly is also a word that many folks botch in verbal exchanges. How many of you say SupposUBly? Stop it. Also not a word. 

A Picture is something that catalogs a moment in time visually. A Pitcher is something that holds liquid. They are not interchangeable; knock it off. 

Oh, the Library. It's a haven, a place of refuge from the loud, cruel world, and any reader's favorite field trip in free time. It, however, is not a Lieberry. If you're under the impression that these two words can be used in place of one another, I'll tell you that you've eaten one too many lie berries. 

And don't even get me started on ValenTIME's. It's ValenTINE's. "N" already gets lost in the alphabet song; can we just let it have its moment every February 14th? 

The moral of this story: please annunciate. Children all over the world are visiting lieberries and taking pitchers and that is expecially unfortunate. Supposubly they're also on "summer" break, but Spring will have its moment -- I'm sure of it. 

Stay tuned...there's more where this came from. Happy beginning of summ...errr...spring break! :)

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