Hatin’ on vowels

This is my secret passion. Are you ready?

It’s grammar. I admit it. I am a grammar nerd. I’m annoyed when I read badly constructed sentences, I grit my teeth over misspellings, and I’m on the email list of the Chicago Manual of Style. Now, laugh if you must, but words are what make the world go round (God spoke all things into being, remember?), and I like talking about them.

Today’s topic: vowels. Why do people hate them?

At my place of employment, we serve low-income mothers by providing baby supplies. In the normal course of service, I ask the new earthling’s name. Today’s winning answer: “J’siah.” Last week’s winner was “Z’nya,” although I confess that I’m at a bit of a loss to assign a vowel to that apostrophe. Perhaps an “a” would do the trick?

And replacing vowels with apostrophes is hardly the only atrocity committed upon them. Daily, I hear vowels tortured into new and terrible shapes and sizes, elongating them past the point of recognition. “Dog” is one syllable, not two. Same with “can.”

Sometimes I listen to NPR just to hear the vowels and consonants ring out pure and crisp. Local color is not to be disdained, but thank goodness for General American.


5 responses to “Hatin’ on vowels

  1. Z’nya. Hmmm. Variant on Zinnia? I knew a guy in high school named Antw*on. I kid you not. I always wondered how he filled out the bubble sheet for the SAT. I don’t recall an asterisk bubble in the name blanks.

  2. My guess is Z’nya = variant spelling of Xenia.
    The consonant Z stands in for both the “X” and the “ee” sounds, the apostrophe is a hat-tip to Irish or Scottish surname spellings (universally favored, as you must know, especially in the South). The Z is also intended to prevent the skim-reader from mistaking the pronunciation of “nya” as it would sound in the name “Enya.” “Z” has us automatically scanning “zee” rather than “zeh” or “zuh”–by which we’re provoked to ponder a long vowel (its absence makes our hearts grow fonder) rather than a short vowel. Ah. But did it work? Aye–or should I say, “‘y’. Th’r”s th’ r’b.”

  3. Hmmmm….so many thoughts running through my head. (you need a life?) I happen to agree with you about people slaughtering language, but I’m not going to write about it! Oh wait….I just did!

    MIss you!!! Hugs!!!! How’s the knee???

  4. I hear you loud and clear. These four little words are the bane of my Wal*Mart experience:

    “Twenty Items or Less”

  5. I was just blogging around and saw this post. It’s interesting to find people who have that sound standard for the English language. Even though it’s not my first language, I find it amusing to look at grammars on every written piece I read.

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