Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Watch Out, It's The Grammar Police

“I can't write without music, and my biggest muse is the band Muse, ironically enough.”
-From Stephenie Meyer’s website

I have a lot of grammar and punctuation pet peeves. The difference between “its” and “it’s”; other improper uses of the possessive (CD’s for sale!); using words that don’t exist (irregardless, anyways); and using “lingo” that makes you sound like a douche (“The project was 'rolled out' last week!”). I'm a big fan of the book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.

But here’s a new one. For a long time, I misused the word “ironic.” I was in high school, I didn’t understand it fully yet, so it was forgivable. The definition of “Irony” is “Poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended,” according to Now read the sentence above. That the band “Muse” is a muse for someone is not ironic, it’s fitting. The statement above is kind of like saying, “I love to have my food blended, so it’s ironic that I happen to have a blender.” It’s not unexpected that a band named “Muse” could become a muse, and it’s not unexpected that if you like smoothies, you'll have a friggin Cuisinart on your kitchen counter.

For that statement to become ironic, it would have to read like this: “I can’t write without music and my biggest muse is the band 'Idea-Killing Mind-Numbing Noise,' ironically enough.”

For most people this is forgivable. Even for most college graduates. But Stephenie Meyer was an English major and a published author! Her not knowing the correct usage of irony makes me feel a little ill. This woman had to read, analyze and discuss about 40 books a year, if her collegiate days were anything like mine. How, in four years of that, did she miss the lesson on the definition of irony?

I’m saddened. But, it doesn’t mean I won’t continue to have Twilight fantasies, and wait with bated breath for Midnight Sun to come out. But it does mean that I’ve lost a tiny bit of respect for her education. I expected more from you and your straight-laced Mormon beliefs, Brigham Young. I expected you to at least teach your bicycle-riding, nametag-wearing missionaries what irony is. Those poor suckers won't even know to laugh sardonically when they're run over by a car full of LDS believers on their way to the temple.


Arlynn said...

I love this post. And I too, still love Stephanie Myers.

Bad grammer bothers me, but I can't seem to help myself from always making mistakes!

Occassionally my mom will call just to tell me that I've mis-spelled, mis-used or am grammmatically incorrect in my posting. She's a third grade teacher.


Joel said...

You should read June Casagrande. That's a link to her blog, where you can find links to her two books. She's a lot more fun than the others. I have "Shoots" and it is pretty good, but, like most grammarians, Truss tends to be a bit doctrinaire. I hate dogma. Except for the movie. I love the movie. Morisette is the best ever "God" in film. But I digress. June rocks. She is even my Facebook friend, which, I know, doesn't speak well of her judgment. But still.

Not to condone the misuse of "ironic," but there is something to be said for the irony of things actually fitting, yaknow, because they rarely do and we really don't expect them to. I think that's what's going on at least sometimes. "Wait, this is how it should be. That can't be right."

And, irritating or not (and I too find it irritating), there is a trend there that must mean something. "Literally" and "I could care less" (when meant as their opposites) are two of my peeves, along with "irregardless" for whom my annoyance goes way back. I think it has something to do with the negative question that expects a positive answer or the unsettling appeal of the double negative. Something negative.

As both a bureaucrat and professional geek, I try to be as self-mocking as I can when I overuse jargon, trendspeak, sesquipedalian obfuscation, ponderous politically-correct passivity and senseless circumlocution. It's pretty easy, actually. I find that I mock myself even when I didn't mean to. I'm not sure if that's ironic.

Robin said...

Too funny! I found you from your comment on Petunia Face...will be back :)

amy b.s. said...

okay, i'm glad i'm not the only one who thought the statement was a little odd of stephanie myers with the misuse of the word. and, although i devoured her books, i really got annoyed with the over usage of certain words. like chagrin. good lord! use another word once in a while.

now, with that said, i misuse words, make them up sometimes, can't spell worth a darn and don't like to us capitols when i blog. i live in a glass house.