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After watching Collingwood council meetings on Rogers again, I felt I should re-post a link to a piece I first wrote several years ago, then again in 2014, then re-wrote in April of this year:
Every time I watched the meetings, I also watched councillors say the same thing: “move by myself.”
The incorrect use of the reflexive is like nails on a blackboard.
We don’t expect all of our elected officials to be English majors, or great orators, but we do expect them to know – and speak – the basics. We expect them to speak better than some TV trailer park characters.
“Moved by myself” is like hearing them say “I seen…” or “yous guys” or calling the library a “lie-berry.”
Trying to improve someone’s idiomatic speech is a Sisyphus effort. I realize it makes me seem like a tired old pedant to keep harping on it.
But even if I don’t like their politics, I don’t want to be embarrassed by our town’s official record. I don’t want outsiders watching it and snickering at what they perceive as hayseeds who can’t speak well. I want us to come across as cultured, mature and literate. And the way to do that is to speak properly.
I suppose this is just me pushing the rock of literacy up the steep slope, but it matters to me how others perceive us. With our reputation already in tatters, and the common perception we’re an aggressively anti-business, anti-growth, anti-development and anti-progress community, I’d rather not add to our disgrace with something more easily corrected than bad policy.
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