SANK! The word is SANK! The past tense of “sink” is “sank”…”sank”, not “sunk”. “Sunk” is the perfect tense, which is either being shamefully abused or ignored most of the time by people who ought to know better. If I have to listen to some talking head on a TV screen or hear a faux-authoritative voice on the radio tell me, “That-there ark Mr. Noah was buildin’ just up ‘n’ sunk on the way to Mt Ararat this mornin’”, I’m likely to scream…as I have been known to do upon other occasions. Whole bunches of other words have lost any connection to their past, present and future tenses as well. The word “might” has been kicked unceremoniously aside for the use of the word “may”. It makes me crazy.
The teaching of grammar and rules of English usage has reached depths that would have caused Mrs. Piper, my eighth grade English(It wasn’t language arts then) teacher (also my great aunt) to suffer a fit of the vapors. She already suffered enough having to teach me and some of my rowdier classmates. She did teach present, past, past perfect tenses (not to mention future perfect tense and subjunctive mood); she taught agreement of subject and verb, she corrected spelling. She once even attempted an English teacher joke about the word “anecdote”—a short, funny tale, saying that English teachers might refer to the fact that bunny rabbits had anecdotes. I was the only one laughing.
Punctuation and spelling seem to have suffered the same indignities that the perfect tense has, which probably at least part of the reason that a lot of the stuff that you read or hear seems to make no sense. The whole idea of a sentence containing a complete thought and that clauses ought to have some rational connection to meaning have apparently been abandoned. It can’t ALL be blamed on texting, I suppose, though that must be a contributing factor. Reminds me of a T-shirt from the BigDogs store : showed a Mexican sombrero-wearing mutt snarling, “Leashes? We don’t need no stinkin’ leashes!”
“Grammar? We don’t need no stinkin’ grammar!”
As I used to tell the seventh grade, “It’s all fun and games until somebody goes to court. Then every period and semicolon can cost you BIG BUCKS.” Yes, indeed. Who cares about your homophones then, my dear? There, their, they’re…can’t, cant…bier, beer…bight, bite, byte…dew, do due…sew, so, sow, yore, your, you’re…you get the picture. Don’t even get me started on affect and effect or lie and lay( The whole concept of parts of speech—subjects, objects, verbs and all that, is in decline). I’ve decided that paying attention to all this losing favor because it implies that one should think before speaking. A novel concept, no? Letting it all hang out is in vogue and the faster the better. No, thank you. A lot of what’s hanging out there falls under the classification of “TOO MUCH INFORMATION!” Much of the rest is just DUMB.
NOT dumb are the two middle schoolers out in Missouri who were so good at orthography that they forced the county spelling bee to go on for 66 rounds(last year’s went only 21)…until the officials ran out of words. By the end of round number 19 there were only two contestants left, an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old but they soldiered on, through such gems as “scherzo”, fantoccini” and schadenfreude. One of my personal favorites was “barukhzy” (I looked it up; it’s an Afghan hound, pronounced “bar-rook-zee”). Both of the spellers missed the hardest word which was French, long, and well-nigh impossible to pronounce. They went through the entire list of words provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee then picked 20 additional words from the Merriam-Webster 11th Edition but stopped for fear of choosing words of uneven difficulty. Organizers decided to call a suspension at 2 a.m. because the officials were really tired. The two youngsters, however, were still at the top of their game, all “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed”. The competition is set to resume on March 8. Personally, I think that they ought to just send both of them to Washington, D.C. for the national spelling bee. That would be inspirational, in my book.
Unfortunately, I might be the only one around that’s inspired by good spelling.
Stick with O.K., it’s hard to mess up.