So, let’s talk about language

Anyone that knows me could tell you that I get very annoyed at the wrong use of the English language. I am not a perfectionist by any means and I make mistakes myself, everyone does, but I do get annoyed at the incorrect use of words by quite a large percentage of the English-speaking world. My biggest bugbears are the incorrect use of there, their and they’re and the near unrelenting addition of the word ‘so’ to the beginning of sentences. (The title of this post is ironic, in case anyone was about to jump on me).

Understanding how to use ‘there’ correctly isn’t difficult, it should be taught at school in early stages of English lessons. Even if someone had somehow missed that part of their education it is not hard to find out how to use those words, especially in these days of instant access to information via the internet. To me, the continued misuse is just laziness by most people. I used to point the errors out to those I know but even then it was of no use, I was ignored and they appeared to believe it wasn’t important. I no longer bother, but just grumble to myself.

On to ‘so’. For some reason it now seems to be the accepted norm to add ‘so’ to the beginning of nearly every sentence, especially when answering a direct question. It used to be a young person’s thing, I think starting in the States, but now you hear it almost continually from folk of all walks of life. Stop it! There was an interesting piece on the first use of the word to start a sentence in a recent edition of Current Archaeology1. Christopher Catling says in that article that he thinks it started in the 1960s, used by beat poets. He also thinks that its use to allow time for thinking at the beginning of a reply is acceptable, I disagree, it sounds awful and is unnecessary. At its worst it sounds arrogant.

I haven’t even touched on the use of ‘could of’ instead of ‘could have’ and the similar abominations. Nor have I spoke of my despair at the use of the greengrocers’ apostrophe. This bugs me so much that I rarely use an organisation or shop that displays one on their advertising.

I realise the the language must evolve and has been doing so for centuries but when we have clear conventions for the use of language these should be maintained. I accept, if not welcome, new words to English but its blatant misuse should be stopped.

There, I have had my say, it will be ignored as always but at least I’ve got it off my chest.


1 Catling, C. (2017) Sherds, Current Archaeology, 330, pp 64-65.

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