I had a rather disturbing conversation on Thursday that has left me thinking and seething all weekend. It’s not about anything drastic like a potential war, famine or earthquake although each of those are disturbing in their own right. No, what had me up in arms and laying awake at night is something entirely different: the end of language as we know it.
I deal in words, trading, borrowing and generally being enticed by the shiniest specimens. In other words, I covet them and cringe whenever I hear or read them being misused, so can you imagine my panic when a friend of mine told me what she sees as the next progression in our living language: the general acceptance and actual inclusion into the dictionary of “your” as the full “you are.” The apostrophe would be gone, forgotten and never to be used again to separate the two words, and I felt my heart break.
We’ve already seen the start of it. After arguing with The Man about whether irregardless is a word (it kills me to even type it out), we searched the word on an online dictionary and lo and behold it was there. The Man insists that if it’s in the dictionary then it’s right. I’m not so quick to come to that conclusion. If irregardless has a spot reserved in the dictionary whose to say “your” will not mean the possessive you and you are? You see why I couldn’t sleep? All of those rules that were drilled into us will be gone and all because of sheer laziness. Does it really take that long to add in an apostrophe and an e? We had already made a concession to join the two words back in the day so what is next?
My friend made the argument that English is an evolving language and that other words we use now are nothing like their former form. Today evolved from to day to to-day and then finally today. I’m not as up in arms over the evolution of today because there was never a change in meaning. The next step may be to combine the ever-problematic “there, they’re and their.”
Then, my friends, I will officially wear black in official mourning. Why should we change something in our language just because some people can’t get their shit together? Instead of changing the dictionary, why don’t we go back to the basics and teach spelling, grammar, punctuation and the actual meaning of words rather than laying down and dying.