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Please, tell them I fought bravely
Sunday, August 26, 2007   7:47 PM

So I was at the bar on Friday when an acquaintance stopped the conversation to correct my pronunciation of something — prettymuch exactly the situation I mention in the Manifesto. Drive-by prescriptivism!

The word, ironically enough, was pronunciation. I've said "pronounciation" for my entire life and that variant is common enough around here that I don't feel like I have to retrain myself to say it the "correct" way. As I've noted before, with this word I'm much more concerned with my occasional pronunciation spelling.

Still: shibboleths. I didn't know what to say, and not just because of the booze. How could I explain this front of the Grammar Wars to someone who'd done nothing more than wander onto the battlefield with a pointy object? I had the courage of my convictions, but not the requisite wherewithal.

Short story: I looked mighty foolish, but luckily not in front of anyone who realized exactly how foolish.

However, since this is bound to happen again with some other acquaintance — and because I'm still nursing my wounded pride — I've compiled a list of snappy and/or suitably baffling retorts, each of them short enough to remember even after a few beers:

1. You got what I meant, didn't you? (slur this, angrily)
2. Language is the people's!
3. Lots of people say that.
4. Psh, look it up (coward! this delays the conversation until you're sober, but will backfire spectacularly if someone has wi-fi).

1. There's no need to bring Strunk and White into this.
2. Well, have fun with that "rule" while you still can.
3. Psh, go back to [the 18th century / 19th century / 1934].
4. Verily!

1. Psh, you heard me.
2. Oh, that's not how we say it in [dialect area. your hometown?].
3. Whatever, it's not important. (roll your eyes for this one)
4. Sorry, did I pronoonce that wrong? (this isn't my idea, but I can't remember where it's from... McKean maybe?)

Note: that last one doesn't work if the word you're pronouncing incorrectly is pronunciation. Freaking shibboleths... what's wrong with us?

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Usually when some corrects me on pronunciation (which almost never happens) or grammar/word usage I say something like "No one asked you, you can leave/sit down now" if I'm feeling extremely childish.

However, what's better IMO (and obviously more mature), is to say "Mmm, I really don't care," and show the person that it genuinely does not matter to me. That really throws people off because most people just give in and apologize if they make a "mistake" in their grammar or pronunciation.

After I say that I don't care, I make an effort to use the word/grammar construction again =P

posted by Anonymous John at November 13, 2008 12:31 AM  

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