Staff Rants and Raves: Language
From the unnecessary and stupid rules to the struggles of learning and speaking, here’s what our staff has to say on languages.
Feb 27, 2020
On Creative Use of Punctuation
Anna-Dmitry Muratova, Deputy Managing Editor
Dear Creative Writing student, please, pretty please (!), stop NOT putting punctuation into prose pieces. Unless it’s absolutely necessary and you’re able to prove how in at least three minutes, at least include periods. It isn’t artsy, nor does it add the air of sophistication to your writing! Your writing is beautiful without such an artificial attempt at decorating it.
On Being Misunderstood
Sasha Cohen, Books & Theater Editor
I recently realized that a lot of people do not understand me. Now some of you are probably wondering, “Do you just mumble or something?” But I can assure you that my enunciation is up to par. Others of you are maybe thinking “How could this be, Sasha? How are you misunderstood?” Look, I was just as surprised as you are when I discovered the unimaginable: Yiddish is not mainstream. Oy vey, I know. Please hold your gasps and groans or any other kvetching until the end of my shtick. Yes, I may be a typical NYU student, but my favorite activities include noshing on a bagel with shmir kez and schmoozing with my friend about what it means to be a mensch. Yes, I know I could exclude these words from my daily conversations, but I can’t help myself. I’m kvelling here … KVELLING! So next time you miss your bubbe, need a friend to wipe the schmutz off of your face, want a yente to plotz with or need someone to prevent you from hoarding more tchotchkes, consider me your mishpucha. Yiddish may be considered a dying language but it is alive and well in my vocabulary!
On “I before E except after C”
Helen Wajda, Deputy Opinion Editor
After misspelling “receive” as “recieve” and “field” as “feild” too many times to count in elementary school, my mom taught me the popular mnemonic device, “I before E except after C.” But this rule only came in handy a few times. In fact, most of the time I diligently applied it, it led me astray: I misspelled neighbor, weigh, beige, feisty, protein, weird and seize for an embarrassingly long time until someone took pity on me and explained how to actually spell them. All I have to say is, did the person who came up with this apparent rule just want to make people look stupid, or did they genuinely not realize that only 44 words follow the rule, while over 900 break it? Either way, I’m still recovering from the trust issues that younger me developed from devoting myself to following this rule.
Paul Kim, Deputy Managing Editor
What, on God’s green Earth, motivates people to riddle their formerly easy-to-read paragraph with these nasty Cronenberg marriages between a comma and a period? Two sentences are always, in every case, easier to read than one really long sentence scotch-taped together with a semicolon. Semicolons are really more of a loophole than a punctuation mark. Just know that if I’m editing anything, I will rip that semicolon out like it’s a heart and I’m the villain in the second Indiana Jones movie. Of course, this isn’t entirely the fault of some late-teen, early-20s writer who read a blurb on Purdue Owl once and decided to overplay the semicolon like it’s a newly discovered Ed Sheeran song. This is, in part, the fault of the system, by which I mean the keyboard. Christopher Latham Sholes, the inventor of the QWERTY keyboard, when deciding where to put the semicolon on his creation, failed to apply the same logic to the semicolon that he did the emdash. Semicolons are too easy to type (notice how I could’ve used a semicolon to start this sentence, but abstained). If you give a monkey a hammer, nobody blames the monkey for smashing a hole in the wall. Similar logic applies. At the very least, the apostrophe key should be where the semicolon is now.
Gabby Lozano, Deputy Opinion Editor
Whenever I think of high school Spanish, my brain goes to the Kahoot theme song. While I want to expand upon my knowledge of Spanish, I hope I can do so without hearing that song again.
On Learning Spanish
Arvind Sriram, Sports Editor
I’ve taken Spanish since the seventh grade, and I still have difficulties understanding when to use preterite versus imperfect.
On the Oxford Comma
Kim Rice, Deputy Copy Chief
There is nothing better than an Oxford comma. NOTHING. Have you ever written a list? That comma between the last two things on the list? The supremacy, the royalty, like nothing can touch it. If not for the Oxford comma, how would we differentiate between the last two things on a list? We couldn’t; there would be chaos, and the only thing that keeps that from occurring is the Oxford comma. There is nothing better and I will continue to fight for the rights of the Oxford comma, especially when it comes to AP Style. Plus, I mean the Oxford comma is the only punctuation rule that I can stand and that makes full sense to me.
Clarification: I know the Oxford comma is optional and that most people don’t use it but I think that should be illegal and that we should all, constantly, use an Oxford comma.
On Speaking Spanish
Mandie Montes, UTA Editor
I love when I tell people that I’m a daughter of Mexican migrants, because they assume that I don’t speak/understand Spanish because I was born in the U.S. and not in Mexico. And while that is problematic in and of itself (discrimination, etc.), it makes me feel like I have a superpower when other folks speak Spanish because, well YES I CAN SPEAK, WRITE AND UNDERSTAND SPANISH. So I guess be careful the next time you make assumptions about others in regards to language and culture.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
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