Somewhere in the last thirty years, willful ignorance has settled into our language (and, I will argue in future posts, our culture).
The arch, self-mocking where it’s at [~a phrase useful mainly for distinguishing a speaker as hip and outside the stuffy bounds of language – and yes, it was said with tongue in cheek~] was joined by generic, unmocking, ignorant – and ever-present -- where are you at? and that’s where I’m at.
The word fewer apparently disappeared from the [American] English language. Why, that team has less than forty players passes without a blink.
For some of us, it can’t pass without a tear.
I get mocked, and mock myself, for pet peeves regarding prolixity, redundancy, or plain old bad diction, syntax, and grammar. But I’m actually not immune to big-ass mistakes, and I’m aware that an imaginative expansion of language, or contraction from needless complexity, is an altogether good thing.
What’s troublesome about the examples I began with, though, are that people knew better, and still know better. They’re frequently just afraid to demonstrate that they know better.
They’re afraid to be learned, and willfully adopt ignorance.
Erudition is now a handicap, apparently.
You know, I think I’ve finally hit on the real reason for the decline of this once-great republic. “Smart” is just not where we’re at right now.