The Real Word Butchers
When I first started blogging almost four years ago, I soon became aware of the term “word butchers” that many used to apply to IndyCar bloggers. Then I saw the term altered to “word butcherers”. I suppose the use of a non-word like butcherer was meant to imply a further degree to which we bloggers will butcher the English language.
The thing is – most of the bloggers that I follow are articulate and seldom have misused or misspelled words in their posts, other than the occasional typo that is nothing worse than a letter left off of a sentence. I am certainly not the king of correct grammar, and thank God that my brother is one of the first to read my posts each day (Happy Birthday, by the way). He’ll send me an e-mail at 5:30am with a list of typos that I hastily correct before most people start reading the site.
I have always maintained that most IndyCar bloggers are not journalists. We are fans who do this simply out of passion for the sport we love. I have great respect for the real longtime journalists who have earned their credibility (and living) over the years covering various subjects. In the IndyCar world, we have Curt Cavin, Robin Miller, Marshall Pruett, Jenna Fryer, Gordon Kirby, John Oreovicz and several others who do excellent work. They dedicate their lives to their craft and don’t get enough credit for what they do. This is not aimed at them.
Instead, this rant is aimed at some of the up and coming would-be journalists that either didn’t pay attention during English class, or they simply don’t take pride in their work – or both.
Being the crusty old goat that I’ve become, I often groan about our local newspaper in Nashville – The Tennessean. I understand that newspapers are going the way of the powdered wig, but other than the old-school columnists – it seems they have dragged the bottom of the river to hire their current pool of reporters. These aren’t sports reporters, mind you. These are the ones found on the front section of your daily paper. The sports reporters are actually the cream of the crop when it comes to proper grammar.
This is the first generation of reporters to completely grow up with SpellCheck and I suppose that they have grown to rely on it. Unfortunately, the built-in software isn’t idiot-proof to prevent someone from using one spelling for a word sounding similar to what they are trying to say. The worst of it is that some of these young guns apparently are not even utilizing SpellCheck, because they are coming up with words that are nowhere to be found in the dictionary.
I have complained about this to some of the few twenty-somethings I know – OK, my son and a 21 year-old I work with. They both say the same thing, which is essentially “…Dude, get over it. You know what they’re trying to say. It doesn’t matter”. Well – I’m sorry, but I think it does matter. Correct spelling and not using made-up words are still important for communication skills.
Give me some examples, you ask? OK – these are just some of the flubs I’ve recently spotted in our local paper…
Till: Yes this a real word, but not in the sense it was used. The reporter was not describing a box to keep money in, nor was he discussing the act of plowing a field. Instead, he was phonetically using the contraction for until, which is ‘til. In an article about the Governor, I’m not sure the use of a contraction would be appropriate anyway. “The bill will not become law till it is signed by the Governor”. Please.
Your/You’re: I walk on shaky ground here, because I’ve done this one on this site myself – by accident. But I’ve read entire articles with the consistent use of “your” where “you’re” would be required. Mine was a single mistake that SpellCheck wouldn’t catch. It came from typing fast and being careless. It happens. Consistent use though, tells me that the author has no idea that there is actually a contraction for “you are”.
Must of: Again, we see another example that the use of contractions was apparently omitted from the most recent journalism programs. Obviously, the author meant to be using the contraction “must’ve” for “must have” when he said that “…the City Council must of thought that no one was paying attention”. Huh?
Could of: See above. “Metro schools could of closed schools yesterday, but opted not to. [sigh]
But at least these were real words being misused for other real words. In my opinion, the most egregious offense in the journalism world is the making up of non-words that would never exist in SpellCheck. Some recent examples I’ve seen are…
Irregardless: This is not a word, nor does it even sound like one. The word is “regardless”. It already means you’re discounting something from the conversation. There is no need to put “ir” in front of it.
Rampid: “The flood waters were rampid”. I can only assume the author meant either “rapid" or "rampant”. There is no such word as rampid.
Undoubtably: “Mayor Dean is undoubtably upset over what the City Council is proposing”. Um…the word is undoubtedly.
Flustrated: This is my favorite. To be fair, this one I’ve only heard verbally and have not seen it print, but I’m sure it’s coming. You are either “frustrated” or "flustered", but you are not "flustrated".
So when you attach the non-word term of “word butcherer” on someone, don’t put it on the IndyCar blogging community or IndyCar journalists. They are doing just fine, thank you. It is in the upcoming crop of mainstream journalists that deserve that unforgiving moniker. I am not naïve enough to think that this creative vocabulary is limited to Nashville or the south. More than likely, it is everywhere.
Ignorance can run rampid anywhere. Irregardless, I undoubtably become very flustrated when I think of what might of been in what your reading. Till next time…