E arlier this week, for reasons now forgotten, I was looking back over some old articles I had written and came across one which had the phrase ‘Occupied France’.
It may (ie; will) sound crazy but I remember that phrase caused me a lot of consternation at the time. Not due to the fact it stirred up visions of the French people under the oppression of the Nazi jackboot but rather because I wasn’t sure if I was meant to cap up the O in Occupied.
I know that won’t seem like such a big thing to most people out there but having a love of language and being someone who makes his living using the written word, it’s crucial for me that spelling and grammar are correct.
If I’m honest, it’s also a personal bugbear. I know not everyone can be a wordsmith and if you’re spelling something like Czechoslovakia, then fair enough if you’ve got a letter or two out of place (don’t bother checking, it’s right).
But continuing the opening theme somewhat, I fully admit that I am a total grammar Nazi. Albeit that word causes me more fretting – should Nazi be capped up also? This is an important thing to know.
I know this is rapidly turning into a column about fascism in a roundabout way but the bastardisation of the English language, inadvertent or not in some cases, is pushing for the top spot in the countdown of things that really wind me up. Honestly, if I was going on Room 101 tomorrow, it would be sent into the ether along with the guests on the Jeremy Kyle show and Piers Morgan.
Language can be a beautiful thing when used in the proper way. Look for example at songwriting. In the right hands, a phrase can make you laugh, smile and wonder in the space of a few words.
Par exemple (a different language there just to keep things fresh) Brian Wilson’s “If you should ever leave me, though life would still go on believe me, the world could show nothing to me, so what good would living do me?”
If you haven’t got a lump in your throat from reading that, then you’re a robot. But to the same degree, it baffles me how we’ve gone from that to Sk8er Boi by Avril Lavigne. Yes, sadly it is real. I had to do a bit of searching to find such a terrible song title and once I happened upon this one, I did the Three Stooges collar pull (popularised by the Simpsons, look it up – hey, I’m entertaining AND educating here) in frustration at how bad it was.
So I know I’m fighting a losing battle – the popularity of text messaging etc has seen to that – but as long as I can read and write I’ll continue fight the good fight. Much like being in Occupied (capital O) France in fact.