Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It isn't often I feel challenged by authors. Being an erudite has enabled me to comprehend and catalogue vocabulary in English as well as some French and Latin. So, when I began to read "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery, I was startled that within the first few chapters I was referring to a dictionary. This, in no way, discouraged me, instead creating a craving for this enjoyable use of words and commas. By the time I reached Renee's astounding shock at an unnecessary comma written by her educated mistress, her reaction was appropriate for my fellow word nerd....and grammar slammer.

I related because, I don't mean to edit everything I read. It happens so naturally that I am inclined to want a marking pencil when I read magazines, books, websites. Like a gardener seeing a plant meant for a shade garden, set within the flower beds that need full sun, it exasperates. To many, the faux pas is not obvious but, to those few who know, it is like a pebble in one's shoe that needs immediate remedy.

Thus, I find myself in this position, often. Incorrect use of than and then has caused inner turmoil. Lately your and you're seems to have lost all scrutiny - even to the educated. Your is possessive, you're is a contraction of you are. I have explained this to some, ignoring the glazed look. This is important, not only to me, but to humanity. When we allow our language to denigrate we will be left with u r instead, as text messages are frequently the mode of written communication lately. U r might have sufficed when schooling was not mandatory and paid for.

When Barbery challenged my intellect, I felt relieved. Relieved that there are morphemics among us. The feat that was most pleasant, however, was the discovery that Barbery sometimes had misused the words I was forced to examine. It seems iniquitous that I would delight in this, but I do. Perhaps I am more like the protagonist than the author.

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