Very Super Prediction: English Language Will Be Butchered

With the kickoff of the Super Bowl only hours away, it’s time for fearless predictions of the perfectly obvious. And the biggest lock of them all is that throughout the game, and most certainly in the post-game interviews, the English language will be sacked repeatedly by people who have spoken this language their whole lives and allegedly graduated from respected institutions of higher learning.

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If butchered grammar grates on your inner ear like fingernails strafing a blackboard, beware: The jocktocracy charged with filling the airwaves surely will:

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o       Use “that” when they mean “who.” It’s so simple, guys; my kids have heard it a thousand times from me: “People are WHOs; things are THATs.”
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o       Add "very" to adjectives that already are superlatives, as in “that very spectacular kickoff return.” Or to words that make no sense being intensified, as in “their very mediocre performance.” (In researching this little post, I Googled “very mediocre” and discovered a new low in jock talk – Minnesota sports website Channel 4000 describing one of the NFL’s divisions as “very, very mediocre.”)

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o       Use that peculiar jock talk construction when referring to a hypothetical outcome that didn’t transpire. “If my offensive line doesn’t block for me on that third down play, I don’t complete the pass,” the QB will say, referring to a past event in the present tense. "If I don’t set my alarm clock last night, I sleep through the kickoff and cost my team big-time."

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- Jon Harmon

Comments

  1. Jon Harmon says:

    The proliferation of jock mis-speak is worse than I thought: today a rocket scientist is quoted in the NY Times using that peculiar what-if-some-event-that-happened-in-the-past-didn’t-happen present tense construction.
    “(NASA’s) Mr. Kessler said Western analysts agreed that China’s new satellite fragments would speed the chain reaction’s onset. ‘If the Chinese didn’t do the test (last month), it would still happen,’ he said. ‘It would just happen sooner.’
    Dear Mr. Kessler: Next time, say “If the Chinese hadn’t done that test, the chain reaction still would happen; it would just happen sooner.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/06/science/space/06orbi.html?hp&ex=1170824400&en=ec2e59140da81fee&ei=5094&partner=homepage

  2. Katia says:

    Good one! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one hearing this “weird” English people speak. The other day I watched BET and the English the VJ on air at the time was speaking sounded like a foreign language to me… and I’m a foreigner! :-D

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