Monday, June 1, 2009

Don't infer it if I don't imply it!

I was reading a news article this morning and made the mistake of simultaneously drinking a soda. I was forced -- yes, forced -- to spray copious quantities of Diet Coke out my nose when I came across my least favorite grammar error. I will have to paraphrase, because when I read it, and after I wiped the still-bubbling liquid off my keyboard, I closed the browser, threw my laptop against the wall, and promptly tried to forget what article I was reading. Aaaaaaauuuuugggghhhhh!

What got me so upset, you ask (yes, I know you're asking)? The gist of it was as follows: "I don't mean to infer that I don't care." What?????? What ??????? W H A T ? ? ? ? ?

Grammar 101 here. I can IMPLY that I don't care. I can IMPLY that the writer is stupid. I can IMPLY that I wished that the author of that sentence would have been fired before the puddle on my floor dried. Thus, I will have "stated indirectly" the preceding points. You, then, can INFER that I don't care. You can INFER that I think the writer is stupid, and you can INFER my hatred of the author. Thus, you will have "drawn a conclusion" from what I said.

Ack! This kind of error akin to those of people who can't tell the difference between "affect" and "effect," or "continual" and "continuous." Did these people not go to elementary school? (Or did they just have my high school "Honors" English teacher teaching them basic grammar?) These words are not fungible. They are not synonyms. There is a reason they are not the same word. Stop using them as if they were. Otherwise, you can infer from my upraised hand that I'm going to slap you.

Note to self: Future post on Ms. Batson, teacher of Honors English at Start High School, who regularly said: "Class, the bell already rung. Sit down." "Rung" was pronounced "wung." She also taught Animal Farm out of the Cliff Notes. I'm pretty sure she taught Honors English because they figured our class would be less damaged by her incompetence.

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