Friday, 16 March 2012

Pet Peeves

So I'm perusing twitter and someone I follow writes,

True friendship is conversing with a bad English accent for a good hour without feeling like a fool. 

And although the tweet does not irritate me at all (in fact, it does almost the exact opposite) it starts me thinking about pet peeves. Don't worry, it'll make sense when you get to number 2 on my list. Honest.

Good old Wikipedia defines a pet peeve as:

A minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to him or her,
to a greater degree than others may find it.

Because I quite like this defintion, we shall gloss over the fact that I'm not particularly fond of the repetition of annoyance/annoying in that sentence and move swiftly on.
So, the idea of a pet peeve is that it's something which you  find particularly irritating. (I know you know all this already, I'm just mentioning it here so that I don't later get into trouble when my pet peeves are deemed ridiculous or trivial - same reason I underlined part of the above quotation too).
It's with that in mind that I shall make a start with my first (and peeviest) pet peeve.

1. Bad punctuation and grammar
Before you all roll your eyes and groan at me, let me explain.
I'm not talking about the complex stuff, like knowing when to use a colon rather than a semicolon, or understanding what the hell an ablative is, no, I'm talking about the really simple stuff which people learn well before they leave primary school, and then promptly forget for the rest of their lives.
There are many, many things which annoy me when it comes to the misuse of punctuation and/or grammar, but the three things which are guaranteed to nark me off are:

its or it's
People seem to use these interchangeably but THEY MEAN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THINGS.
its = possessive, e.g. The snail carries its house on its back.
Both the house and the back belong to the snail.
it's = contraction of it is/it has, e.g. It's time for EastEnders, so I have to go. It's been lovely talking to you.
You're actually saying that it is time for EastEnders and it has been lovely talking, but because you're so busy these days it's far quicker just to squeeze out and omit the 'is' and 'has'.
That little apostrophe makes all the difference, folks. Use it wisely.

your, you're
Same as above, really.
'Your' is possessive.
'You're' is short for 'you are'.
Always. No exceptions. Once you've learnt the rule you just have to stick to it. Simple really. People just can't be bothered to stop and think about which one they actually need and it's so irritating!

there, their, they're
Slightly more complicated because there are three to choose from this time? Nope. Same thing again; some people just can't be arsed to get their heads around the difference and instead opt for a pot-luck approach. Hey? Some people? Punctuation and grammar came about to make our lives easier: they exist so that you don't have to guess.
There = adverb/demonstrative pronoun (had to look it up), e.g. There is no need to guess at punctuation.
Their = possessive, e.g. When will people get it into their heads that grammar is important?
They're = contraction of 'they are', e.g. Why can't people understand that they're pissing me off by not using punctuation properly?

I studied Latin and Greek at university, both of which are all about the grammar. In fact, they're grammar mad. They just can't get enough of it. Maybe I chose to study them because I'm subconsciously more interested in the stuff than the majority of the population. Maybe people are right when they call me pedantic or a grammar Nazi. Maybe I should just accept that language is always changing and developing and that me ranting about the misuse of an apostrophe here and there isn't going to make a whole lot of difference.

Or maybe I should ignore the grammar haters and instead point them in the direction of this rather fabulous book by Lynne Truss in the hope that, by reading it, they may join me on the dark side and become grammar Nazis too.
*Evil laugh*

2. The 'British' accent
I quoted a tweet above in which someone wrote about speaking in a 'bad English accent' with a friend. What jokers they must be. Anyway, the point is that she called it an 'English' accent, not a 'British' one and while an 'English' accent doesn't really exist when you consider all the regional accents you encounter around England, it's a hell of a lot less irksome than calling it a 'British' accent.
Technically speaking, you see, 'Britain' refers to the entire island which includes Scotland, England and Wales and however hard you try, you will never convince me that Billy Connolly, David Cameron and Tom Jones sound the same.
I have absolutely no problem in being called British: I am. I was born and live in Britain. I just don't speak with a British accent: it doesn't exist.

Of course, the only thing worse than calling it a British accent is calling it a British dialect.
Hey, dictionary? How would you define a dialect?
'A subordinate variety of a language with non-standard vocabulary'.
Yeah. I resent that implication.

3. The English character is always the baddie
Okay, who started this one? Because whoever it was, shame on them.
American television and film makers nowadays seem to love making the English character the bad guy (notice I wrote English and not British: the bad guy never has a Scottish or Welsh accent, does he?)
Some examples to illustrate my point? Okay, sure.

- Magneto (X-Men)
- Nizam (Prince of Persia)
- Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)
- Stu (Mrs Doubtfire)
- Miss Trunchbull (Matilda)
- Lord Farquaad (Shrek)
- Boggis, Bunce and Bean (Fantastic Mr. Fox)
- Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
- Sark (Alias)
- Scar (The Lion King)

- Rex Buckland, Angel of Death, Mordaunt, Gideon (Charmed)
- Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)
- Hans Gruber (Die Hard)

(If any of those are wrong, I apologise. Don't shoot me.)

4. Leaving piddly amounts of things in packets or bottles
You'll be glad to hear that we're finally moving away from the pedantic.
When I say 'piddly amounts of things' I'm generally talking about a tiny amount of milk being left in the bottle, or two crisps being left in the packet. My dad has absolutely mastered the skill of leaving piddly amounts of things. I think he does it out of concern that the next person to come along would be terribly upset if whatever they wanted had all been used up, which is sweet and very considerate of him. It's just unfortunate that I find it far more irritating when I think there's enough milk for my cereal and then end up with a pathetic puddle at the bottom of the bowl.

5. The Aptamil follow-on milk advert
To be honest, it's not even the whole advert that annoys me. It's just one line. This line.

Breast milk is the best protection for your baby and nothing compares to it.
If you decide to move on, we've created Aptamil follow-on milk ...

Okay, so that's two lines, my bad.
Now, I'm no expert, but I'm fairly sure that EVERYONE moves on from breastfeeding. There's no 'if' involved, otherwise you end up like the 'bitty' sketches from Little Britain.

And with that marvellous image now in everyone's minds, I shall bring this complainy little bloglet to an end and ask ...

what are your pet peeves?

1 comment:

  1. Following three tractors home who merrily drive past a lay by despite the queue of traffic behind then being so long that I'm pretty sure the person at the back was driving in a different century.