As hard as I try to accept trends and changes of the 21st century to demonstrate I’m not a stuck-in-the-good-old-days crone, I cling to a few old-fashioned values I’m unwilling to let go. One such value is trying to write with correct grammar. That doesn’t mean I’m not learning to allow generally accepted changes—such as plural pronouns with singular antecedents to avoid sexism (Each contestant will find an entry form on their chair.) Even though I cringe, I’ll overlook it. But I’m still fighting the use of lay as a substitute for lie, as in, “Just lay down for a few minutes until your dizziness subsides.” (I just remembered I've already discussed my pet peeve—see my August 26, 2009, post if you're interested.)
I cringe when period TV writers have scripted characters that should have impeccable English with the sloppy stuff that passes for today’s usage. For instance, in Showtime’s “The Tudors” series (I rented the first season), Henry VIII occasionally says something appalling. I realize “The Tudors” depicts Henry VIII in his early twenties, but I am positive he wouldn’t have said, “I order you to tell Sir Walter and I about your mission.” Imagine if he used today’s twenty-something grammar to announce, “Me and the queen are getting divorced."
This week Hubby and I received an invitation to what sounded like a lovely party, celebrating a particular achievement of an academic department at our local university. We were invited because of our long-standing connection and history with that department. As I unfolded the invitation issued by two full professors, my heart began beating a little faster. Maybe I would need to buy a new elegant blouse . . . maybe I would even dig out my dressy shoes with the tiny high heels. I’d refresh my best manners and employ my straightest posture to hobnob in the company of these scintillating intellectuals and academics. What fun it would be to take part in the liveliest of conversations.
Let’s call the two hosting (and unrelated) professors Lora and Jake. As I read through the invitation, I arrived at its closing sentence. Here it is, intact:
Please join Lora and I to celebrate this important milestone. Jake
Hubby was going to be out of town that date, anyway, so it’s unlikely my fantasy would have come to fruition. But I don’t feel so bad about missing it. When I RSVP, perhaps I’ll just write, “Hubby and I are sorry, but him and I can’t make it.”