Friday, February 25, 2005

Butchering English

English is a rich and powerful language. Left alone, it has the capability of expressing a vast range of ideas and emotions. But some people just insist on 'butchering' it. One thing that really yanks my chain is misuse of the verb 'see.' The verb see is very simple and regular. I see; you see; he/she/it sees;we see; you see; they see. The past tense is 'saw' with no changes. i,you, he/she/it,we/you, they all saw something. The past participle is 'seen' and must be used with have or had. But listen around you. What you will hear is "I seen it last week," or "As soon as I seen the sign, I knew I was lost."

Here in the mountains of North Carolina I expect to hear such abuse of the language, since the way many of the people speak reflects their unique heritage and the poor educational system. Here you will also hear "I ain't saw him for a week." These people are really mixed up.

But listen to television news. You will see people, being interviewed all over the US, and saying "I seen it." These are not mountain people. Many of them have good educations. But somehow, they all can't seem to understand or remember this simple thing: the past tense of the verb see is saw, not seen. For God's sakes, this is not rocket science.

Whenever I hear this, I want to scream at the TV: "No, you idiot! If you ca't speak simple English then shut up!" But, as a true curmudgeon, I have never been know to be lenient about other people's mistakes.

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