Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hey Buddy . . . Wha'da'ya'say?


Yesterday evening as I was reading through some newer websites, I spotted an error in one of the comments below the blog's text. In part, it said, "...that advices its readers to sell..." The error was the use of the non-word 'advices'. The word 'advice' is a noun, while 'to advise' is a verb... One can offer, give, or receive advice but one can only advise.

I used to see that mistake often but hadn't noticed it being committed for quite a while.

Another grammar error that I have mentioned many (many!) times is the use of the term, very unique -- the original meaning of unique is one of a kind and you cannot be very one of a kind. But I fear that this valuable word is doomed and will soon come to be synonymous with unusual or exceptional or the like.. Why? Well, it's probably because so many celebrities are themselves, in their lack of a truly proper education, so often casually saying very unique. On his show, America's favorite surgeon, Dr. Oz, speaks of many products that he says are "very unique." And Talk-Radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity also often say it. Not to mention some of the politicians and televangelists.

In Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses Mark Twain wrote: "Use the right word, not its second cousin."

A writer-buddy and Doctoral candidate once told me, regarding my proclivity to call attention to grammar errors, "Gene, if I tell someone something or publish something that is not strictly correct but my listener or reader understands what I meant, then it doesn't matter whether it was grammatically correct or not."


Perhaps he was right.

But I don't think so.

The death of a once superior language? Since I am now in my 70s I may not live to see this travesty come about, but I'm pretty well convinced that it eventually will.

A news item I saw yesterday on ABC's The Early Show featured Georgetown Professor Michael Eric Dyson who teaches a college course on rapper (and multimillionaire) Jay-Z amazed me. Dyson has taught the ‘Sociology of Hip-Hop: Urban Theodicy of Jay-Z,’ so why, I wonder, with college courses as valuable as that one, are American students so often branded as being under educated?

Read about that HERE.

A comment at the end of the above article from a concerned citizen states: "This class should be taught, but in a different context, students should learn how these thugs have contributed greatly to the 'dumbing down of America' and our moral decay. How this 'teacher' or professor can glorify these gangbangers is ridiculous. If it weren't for Rap/Hip Hop Jay-Z would be a Gang Banger or parking cars for a living."

Although I've been contemplating the above, I still have come to no definite conclusion about it. But, I did recently read an ancient Hebrew proverb that said: "Do not confine your children to your own learning for they were born in another time."

Hm... food for thought indeed.

And . . .

John Holt
once said: "We don't have to make human beings smart. They are born smart. All we have to do is stop doing things that make them stupid."

Again, Hm . . .


Old age is compulsory, wisdom is optional.


  1. Other than the "concerned citizen's" baseless prediction about what Jay-Z might be doing for a living if he weren't a rich rapper, I agree with his comment. Misogyny and other flavors of hatred are just that. Words are never bad, but using words to instill and further ugly behavior is repugnant.

    Mr. Dyson, sir, The "Sociology of Hip-Hop" has nothing to do with Theodicy. Please look up the word, you fool.

    Still, we can't with any sense of justice blame Jay-Z with more than contributing to the cesspool of vacuous stupidity that the "American Audience" has become.

    After all, Gene, many American citizens watch television shows that insist on notions such as:

    "Two grown men ogling a sixteen-year-old girl; now that's hilarious!"

    The same television audience that shrieks its condemnation when a football coach is caught "allegedly" molesting children giggles when the canned laugh machine signals that they should.

    One version is deemed entertainment, while the other is labeled a sin.

    Don't trust the validity of my comparison? Imagine those same two grown men ogling a sixteen-year-old boy (would you still laugh along with the stupid machine?).

    Shame on all of us.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Anthony. Once again you have given me much to contemplate.