Deprifun

I want to be singular!

Posted on: May 2, 2013

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People have an annoying habit of referring to me in the plural form.

I first noticed a few months ago: I happened in the area where someone I know had opened an Italian restaurant some time previously, and I decided to drop by and say hi. I found him much changed. Not only he had taken to making sushi: he had also grown distinctly Asian features.

I wrote him an e-mail to inquire about this puzzling turn of events, from my own e-mail address, signing with my name only, with such formulations as: “*I*happened at your restaurant…*I* wanted to say hi…*I* was surprised to see that…” and he replied soon afterwards: “Dear friends, you (plural) are always so kind, thank you (plural) for your (plural) concern. I leased the place to a Korean cook) [mystery solved!], but I will be sure to  tell you (plural) immediately when I open a new place”. Huh?

Once alerted to the peculiar phenomenon, I realised that this happens all the time. People inviting *us* to events. Asking me how *we* are doing, how *we* spent the holidays, what plans *we* have for the upcoming weekend.

I am puzzled. Have I developed multiple personalities without realising? Is my guardian angel suddenly visible? Is that a covert way to imply that I am fat? Do I look like the Pope? Or am I really the Pope? Could I be the first atheist Pope in the history of the Church? What were the good old Cardinals thinking?

I have a sneaking suspicion that by referring to me in the plural form they actually mean me and my FBFF. Because they also apparently tell her stuff and assume that I will be informed. “But how come you do not know?? I did tell your FBFF!”

Well, breaking news! I am not her! She’s not me! I am not we! She is not us! We are not you! You are not him! Him who??

When they go all plural on me, or ask me to do things like relaying a message or giving her something, I politely tell them that I have no idea of what’s going on with her, and that they should contact her directly.

She seems to have chosen a completely different approach: when people ask her about me, she simply makes things up. That brings about interesting situations, like something that happened last Sunday: I had an ice cream with a common acquaintance, and when I left to go home he observed that I was going in the same direction as always. He found that very surprising. I found his very surprise very surprising. Huh?? He explained that my FBFF had told him I had moved flats, and I should have told him, he would have been soooo happy to help. I evilly replied that I haven’t moved, but that I want to and I am very grateful for his kind offer and will make sure to contact him when the time comes. He turned slightly green at that. I wonder why, perhaps the ice cream had disagreed with him?

Anyway, I would like to use this opportunity to launch an appeal to all my friends and frenemies, none of which know about this blog, so my appeal will wander aimlessly through cyberspace like a message in a bottle, and will be retrieved in fifty years or so by a young  and rather cute journalist who was actually looking for something about depressed kittens, and he will come to the very old me for an interview, and I will brew him a steaming cup of tea with actual crushed dried leaves, and he will find this very quaint and will ask me where you can still buy the leaves and not the usual concentrate or a powder, and I will tell him that I had grown it in my garden, and he will love that and start planning in his mind a series of articles about the way you used to do things in the good old times, and he will ask me how did I manage to grow tea in this climate, and I will reply “Oh, but this is not actual tea, my dear”, and cackle evilly and later dispose of his body in the tools shed.

But I digress. So here is my appeal: Dear grammar debauchers, there is a reason why most languages have evolved a singular and a plural form, and it’s a perfectly good one! And no, it wasn’t to provide teachers with a further torture instrument – although that might indeed be the case for irregular plurals. So, use wisely and correctly this wonderful option given to us by the Gods of Grammar!

Thank you very much. We have spoken.

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7 Responses to "I want to be singular!"

Eats Shoots and Leaves

Errr… huh??

There is an entire book devoted to this and similar grammatical errors. It’s entitled Eats Shoots and Leaves. The text came from a zoological book about pandas but is used throughout as a prime example of how language is misused.
Your blog was so similar that I thought you’re a fan and I wanted to let you know that I’m a fan. Plan misfired. Sorry.

Ah! No, I didn’t know the book but I have googled and I think I would love it, thanks for the tip!

Pleasure. Having English as a second language has helped me to be a somewhat geeky about grammar. And books about grammar.

Funny

Thank you! I found your comment by chance in the spam folder, so tell me, are you a spammer? I have never met one in person. I hope you don’t want to send me any treatment to lengthen what I don’t have.

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