Key West Poet Laureate Kirby Congdon (Photo by Richard Watherwax)
Key West Poet Laureate Kirby Congdon (Photo by Richard Watherwax)

by Kirby Congdon…….

A Scotsman and I talk about English there in his native country and here in the colonies. We have some pet peeves by which we alienate people and send them to hell and damnation.

We decided a major annoyance was hearing “I seen” instead of the past perfect. Journalists on television often swallow the verb “have” and perhaps we just don’t hear it. But in daily spontaneous speech this isn’t always so.

An error of my own was brought up. “Personally, I think so and so” is over emphasizing the first person. The pronoun, “I” is already personal.

The double negative as in “I don’t do that no more” is self explanatory in saying the opposite of what one means. This usually goes along with a careless use of “may” and “can” or “like” and “as.”

A more subtle mistake which professional speakers often make is to slide over the word “hundred,” and say “hunnert.” This is like playing a particular note in music and not being quite adept enough to give that note its full value. The “dread” in “hundred” can be difficult if you’re talking fast and want to get beyond some figures without stumbling.

We all have our idiosyncrasies, which makes me wonder is “we all” as inappropriate as “you all”?

I suppose it’s a matter of taste and how can anyone teach it or learn it except by osmosis. My English teacher in high school was my first exposure in print of bad poetry. He knew better. I congratulate myself in this competitive world that I did too!

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