“Oh, yes, I’m the great green Teddy Bear,
pretending that you are around…
~Edyth Shuey, circa 1955
Unless you read a lot, novels and magazines and newspapers, maybe even some poetry…as far back as early high school, even earlier if you’re especially verbal, unless you did that, then the language you write with today in college comes to you through your ear as much as through your eye. Think about it: all that TV, all those friends, all that chatter . . . You’re oral, as much as literate (writing).
“Oh, yes, I’m the great green Teddy Bear. . .
is what we used to coax Edyth to sing, to the tune of the Platters’ The Great Pretender: ‘Oh-oh, yes, I’m the grea-eat pretender, pretending that you are around…
She sang it beautifully, did a black falsetto as well as any white girl could, and
we would all crack up and hide the fact that we were messing with her. She got a lot of praise from us, a lot of requests for Platters songs. We spray painted a teddy bear green for her. No one told her for four years. (Today’s hell-raisers had nothing on us!)
Now it’s your turn: share with us one of those things you got wrong as a kid, and if you were young enough, you couldn’t even hear people’s corrections. Send it to me here; I’ll put it in: email@example.com
The guy that draws the art on these pages? He used to say Pocchino, for the puppet with the nose. His brother called the little acquatic icthyic life forms in the fish tank… ‘Wook at the wittle siffies,’ he’d say.
“Fishies, Chris. The little fishies.
“Siffies!” he’d nod, impatient. We let it drop.
He’s got it right today.
Once you groove in a mispronunciation, it takes work to iron out that groove. You probably have to get it right at least as many times as you did it wrong heretofore, for the correct pronunciation to come up first, naturally.
If you say, I am prejudice (for I am prejudiced, or even I am not prejudiced), and he suppose that he would go (for he supposed that he’d go),
then you have to retrain your ear to pick up that d on the end of it; so you don’t misspell it when you go to written code.
Some of these very soft endings are actually dropping out, because so many of us don’t hear them: ice cream, once upon a time, was iced cream.
Iced tea still has the d, but you’ll see it misspelled in menus as often as not.
(How do you spell Ice-T? Probably not with a d, right?)
So really the only way to correct this in yourself is first, to become aware of it. . .
prejudiced supposed iced tea (I’ll add them as I think of them, plus the send-ins)
. . . and then notice it in print, and of course, get it right when it comes to your turn.
Just add these guys to your own list of spelling demons:
becoming beginning leisure neither independent separate and so on…
You have to see it right, now, more often than you hear it the way you’re use to hearing it. /// Did you catch that one? the way you’re
used to hearing it.
We don’t hear the d because it assimilates to the t in to: usedto
if you are writing the word udderly for being utterly flabbergasted,
or–what was that one I saw on an exam I was grading this morning…
supaflewus ! Or it’s a doggie dog world or various asundry
or the like, all I can tell you is you’ve got more repair work to do than even the suppose and prejudice crowd.
[ superfluous it’s a dog-eat-dog world various and sundry ]
But you know, that 4 in A Grammar 4 Dumbies, stands for the 4 years you will have had at college here. For what it’s worth (shame, jobs, love lost, lower income, diminished social status, and possibly internal organic complications), why not learn it now? Why wait till you’re dead? In heaven, they don’t cotton to incomplete or faulty PSGs (Phrase Structure Grammars).
And you know, why should they? Everything’s perfect. They probably still say iced cream, on a warm day in heaven.