Grammar /ˈgramər/ a : the study of the classes of words, their inflections, and their functions and relations in the sentence (merriam-webster.com) b : The study of how words and their component parts combine to form sentences (the free dictionary.com).
Whilst working in an office, I’ve come to realize that there are far worse things that could happen among colleagues than getting stabbed in the back…like getting stabbed in the ear! So far, my eardrums have suffered severe scarring from grammatical misfires (which unfortunately have now been widely accepted in Lagos as friendly fire). I can recall numerous instances when I would call the telephone extension of a staff member in another department and, if someone else picked the call, the response I would get was most often, ‘He is not on seat’ or ‘She is not on seat’. Whatever happened to, ‘He/She is not at his/her desk’ or ‘He/she is away from his/her desk’? Who cares about the damn ‘seat’ anyway? The desk has your files, computer, stationery, etc. but your seat only becomes important when your ass is on it. In some job functions seats are not even used – that’s why you’re used to hearing ‘customer help desk’ and not ‘customer help seat’! Think about it.
I’ve also observed that the word ‘lend’ is fast going into extinction. Coworkers have often come up to me to ask for an item of mine and they’d make requests like, ‘Please borrow me your pen.’ We need to establish who is who here: You, the borrower, want to borrow while I, the lender, may or may not want to lend to you. Therefore the borrower could say, ‘Could you lend me your pen’ or ‘Could I borrow your pen?’ I think that sounds far more appealing to the ears, don’t you? Even more disturbing is the subsequent remark to express gratitude for your assistance; ‘I appreciate’. C’mon…how lazy do you have to be not to be able to make a complete sentence? I appreciate what? Just say ‘thanks’ and we can all move on with our sanity intact.
Some people take ‘lazy linguistics’ too far. I’ve been in an elevator (or lift, if you prefer) and have been told by a staff member wanting to exit, ‘Excuse’. When I turned to look at the seemingly rude staff member (with him thinking that he must have been rude) he then said, ‘Please, excuse.’ Excuse who for God’s sake??? Couldn’t he just say ‘Please excuse me.’ like the educated human being he’s supposed to be? If you think that’s baffling then what about the catchphrase used when someone is rushing to an open elevator that will close any second – ‘OLIT!’ If you haven’t guessed it already, this expression was generated from two words, ‘Hold it’. With time ‘hold’ became ‘ol’, as transformed by the elite illiterate few.
Sometimes I find myself uttering some of these blunders because my ears and brain are constantly subjected to them – a classic case of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’. But I refuse to give in. It’s not enough that you know what that person is trying to say but if we don’t start to correct them then these verbal blunders become the norm and will be passed from one generation to the next. If you have any common grammatical errors you’re bombarded with often then please share or compare 🙂