Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm gonna scream!

The New York Times offers this summary of words that were introduced or popular during 2010. I'd like to give my candidate: Gonna.

As in going to.

Look, this has always been a lazy contraction. I remember reading a transcript of my own testimony over a decade ago, certain that the stenographer had misquoted me. But no, I had often slipped into this slurred version of going to. It caused me to train myself not to, and I have pretty much killed the habit.

But none other than our Commander in Chief has now made it acceptable. He uses it all the time. Here's one example.

I argue that his persistent use of the word has now influenced the entire country.

A sign of how pervasive it has become is that I heard it from an NPR radio announcer! OMG, the bastion of good grammar and pronunciation has been corrupted. Are we gonna have to stop listening to Weekend Edition?

Even the spellcheck on this blog service does not recognize it as a mistake.

Please, Mr. President, along with giving up smoking, can you give up gonna?


e-Patient Dave said...

As someone with a pretty good SAT score in English and longtime proofreader and editor, I feel your pain. I long railed against the fact that English is a living language, dagnabbit, and all languages evolve according to how they're actually used. Like it or not, Canute.

(He's the guy who, according to legend, proved the futility of kings' power by issuing an order to hold back the tide. Image here, from History For Kids.)

Scott said...

Really? "lazy"? It may not have a place in formal writing, but it's an accurate description of the way people talk...and people don't talk "lazy." They just talk the way they talk. It'd be like saying somebody breathed lazy or blinked lazy. My advice is not to worry about this one.

Sharon said...

Sooo agree with gonna. About 3 years ago I forced myself to pronounce all "ing's" and replaced "yahbut" with "yes, however". Fairly easy self-improvement!

Joanne said...

Here is another mispronunciation I hear on NPR and elsewhere: FebUary instead of February!

Scott said...

Are you kidding me? Feb-yoo-ary is the first pronunciation listed in Merriam-Webster. To my ear, pronouncing the "r" sounds like an overcorrection. It would be the same (to me) as pronouncing "colonel" the way it's written.

If you think you need to hear the "g" in "-ing" then I suggest you start pronouncing "colonel" much more like "colonial."

People, just because somebody pronounces it differently than you do, it doesn't mean it's wrong.

e-Patient Dave said...

Again, I'm one who's railed against evolution (or, some say, degeneration) of the language, so I'm not apologizing for sloppy. But:

After 15 days of travel I'm now reviewing accumulated Boston Globes, and I ran across this from 12/2:

Out of the Gutter: How slang sneaks into the language

Conniption. Jamboree. Flunk. Pub. Wallop. Awfully, in the sense of “very.” Bogus, in the sense of “fake.” Today they’re English, but if you’d used them a century ago, you’d have found educated people looking down their noses at you. ...

I know slang isn't the same as sloppy. But both are evolution.

My personal persistent irritant is "alright," which EVERYONE knows should be "all right." (Just because already has one L doesn't mean all right should!) But look: it's now .... eeeesh.... accepted:

Increasingly I see that my urge to make the world stay in my childhood just makes me... old. Like Mrs. DelPlain, my second grade teacher. Now that was old.

If I keep this up I'll start smelling like baby powder, as she did.

Anonymous said...

Priceless, on-target analysis as usual, Dave.



e-Patient Dave said...


I might add a realization from that Globe article - "if you'd used them a century ago..."

I realized that anyone over 50 has been alive more than half of that (ancient-sounding) century!

Anonymous said...


Yes, but I don't smell like baby powder.


76 Degrees in San Diego said...

The problem is ginormous (dʒaɪˈnɔːməs)

Anonymous said...


Steve Kirstein said...

You "should of" mentioned this one as well.