Because grammar.

Is it odd that I am a lover of grammar rules, but I also appreciate creativity, evolution, and innovation in language use? 

I think there is a difference in saying something like “Will you borrow me a pencil?” (my personal #1 pet peeve) and denominalizing words (as in the article “You’ve Been Verbed“).

The first example is giving a word its exact opposite meaning. It’s not creative. It’s lazy. The speaker knows that they mean lend, but don’t use it because… I don’t know. The kindest explanation I can think of is a kind of Jedi-mind-trick idea of framing the question as if the action has already taken place (because nothing can be borrowed until it is first lent). Or maybe some folks really do think that “borrow” and “lend” are synonymous. Regardless, I prefer innovations in language to come from more deliberate consideration. Innovation can make things simpler without being lazier, if new meanings are extrapolated from the original definition of the word.

One of my favourite positive examples of this is highlighted in The Atlantic’s article “English Has a New Preposition. Because Internet.

It discusses how because, traditionally a subordinating conjunction, has developed a new prepositional meaning. A highlight of the article (other than the hilarious tweet at Donnie Whalberg) is, “[…]the usage of “because-noun” (and of “because-adjective” and “because-gerund”) is one of those distinctly of-the-Internet, by-the-Internet movements of language. It conveys focus […] But it also conveys a certain universality. When I say, for example, “The talks broke down because politics,” I’m not just describing a circumstance. I’m also describing a category. I’m making grand and yet ironized claims, announcing a situation and commenting on that situation at the same time. I’m offering an explanation and rolling my eyes—and I’m able to do it with one little word. Because variety. Because Internet. Because language. “

Now go write something. Or read something. Or clean under the bed because you and I both know it’s been a while.

S.E. Lund

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s