Monday, 3 September 2012

Pedants, Unite!

My name is Art Lester and I’m a pedant.

There.  I feel better already.
In case anyone is looking for the child abuse hotline, let me spell that for you again:
P-E-D-A-N-T. That’s letters away from “pederast”.  I want to avoid the fate of that poor paediatrician in a Portsmouth riot a few years ago.

I’m getting so bad that there are whole publications I can’t read and TV programmes I avoid, because the writers and presenters say things like “There are less people here now.” My wife, Gilly, bears the brunt of my righteous wrath. I always give her a lecture about someone confusing words of quantity with words of number. I rise from my chair and shout. I say things like, “The only way to have LESS people is to put them in a blender and liquefy them, and pour them into unequal amounts into two containers. Then you’d have LESS people. Otherwise, &@!!**!! it, you’d have FEWER people, as God intended.”
Maybe it’s because I go around speaking a foreign language every day that I have become hypersensitive to word usage. I have to remember to say “lorry” instead of “truck” and “got” instead of “gotten”. If I slip up and say “gotten”, someone among my British friends is bound to laugh and point out that I’m still very American. “Yes, I’m the only begot son of some Yanks, alright,” I respond, but the irony is usually lost on them, poor fools. They must have forgot.

In some ways, clichés affect me even more gravely. I can remember eavesdropping on a conversation on a bus one day, in which both participants spoke entirely in clichés, to the extent that I couldn’t fathom their meaning. Things like, “At the end of the day, it’s all swings and roundabouts, innit?” Response, uttered sagely, “Horses for courses.”
And I’m, like…”what?”

I’m joining Pedants Anonymous.  This afternoon. I’m doing that, because if anyone says “vast majority” in my range of hearing, I will be forced to maim them.