New readers of this blog may be shocked to learn that I can be a bit of a jerk. The truth is that I can, at times, be a real ass. As previously noted a few months ago, I can be judgmental, self-righteous, and unabashedly opinionated.
I can be rather intolerant when it comes to bad grammar. My mother reflexively corrected my grammar as a child. It didn’t matter where we were. No sentence could end with a preposition. Lazy words, such as Like, were not accepted. This is not a complaint. I never resented her interruptions. I didn’t welcome them. I simply understood that these were serious errors that needed to be addressed.
Did my children resent my policing of their language and grammar? I don’t know. I never asked.
I raise this issue because I have the devil of a time restraining myself whenever I hear adults misuse certain words. The biggest offense, the one that drives me nuts, is the substitution of goes for said or says.
There are days when people close to me completely abandon words such as said or says. The entire retelling of a conversation might include a half a dozen or more goes. Some sentences may include two or three offenses. It takes all of my self-control to remain silent.
Worse, this misuse of the word goes is becoming more common. Today, however, may have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I was at a seminar hosted by a major insurance company. The speaker, nationally known and respected, was funny, informative, and capable of ending on time. All three are very important. Unfortunately, his grammar was atrocious. Among other things, he repeatedly substituted goes for said.
Sitting there, working hard to absorb the valuable parts of his message, I was doing my best to ignore the goes. But he wouldn’t stop. My mother might have interrupted his presentation. I simply repositioned myself in my seat. Again and again and again. The people behind me probably speculated that I was suffering from either hemorrhoids or poison ivy.
So, if a professional, a best selling author and educator, stumbles through the difficult terrain of the English language, how can I judge harshly average Americans who trip over the usage of goes vs. said? I promise to grit my teeth, shift my weight, and to work harder at remaining silent.
I’ll still be a jerk. It just won’t be as obvious.