Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Apologies for the radio silence...

I've been working on a number of different projects which have left limited time for the blog. Two quick thoughts which come to mind...

A) "Competency" and "resiliency" are not words. They're bastardized from "competence" and "resilience". Since each of the proper terms define "a state of", the bastardized terms literally mean "a state of state of being competent" and "a state of state of being resilient". Am I the only one who cringes when I hear these (and similar) words used?

B) While I'm playing word cop, when the heck did it become decent literary form to begin sentences with "It"? Certainly, languages become less formal over time. Sometimes, those changes don't become apparent for decades; in other cases, the changes become readily apparent in a much shorter timeframe. I'm a huge fan of mirroring one's written language to how one speaks, as all too often, the written word seems painfully stilted in comparison to the spoken one.

However, the "lazification" (see, I can make up words, too) of English is beginning to alarm me. More and more, I'm seeing sentences in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal beginning with "It". I don't mind that particular usage occasionally and informally, but the frequency with which I'm seeing this so-called "structure" is annoying. Admittedly, I learned English from very traditional and conservative teachers; I'm thankful that they cared so much about their craft that I became a reasonably decent and conscientious writer. But, I'm pained that the NY Times, a tome many consider to be the arbiter of American daily journalism, seems to be okay with "It" as a proper way to start a sentence.

What say you? Am I too much of a linguistic fuddy-duddy? Or do the two usages above give you pause, too?

1 comment:

  1. Live in the now, buddy... :-}

    Now that I think about it, you're right on the first point. It is going to piss me off every time I hear it used incorrectly, from here on out.

    The second point, however, seems to carry much less weight with me. It reads nore like a reflection of the linguistic style of your education than a pure "I do no think that word means what you think it means" as is the first. (Pardons to William Goldman.) It also seems to me that it would depend on whether the word "it" is used to refer to a previous noun, or as the "universal indefinate" found in idiomatic expressions.

    It should also be mentioned that in German, which has the same lingustic basis as English, the use of "it" (or "es", as it would bein the Germanic), is commonplace and acceptable.

    Overall, however, I think this points more to a surplus of either free time or neurotransmitters. It just isn't the end of the world.