So you think about taking a little time off over the holidays, and where does it get you? I thought “I will take a little break from the blog, let people catch up on some of the entries they have missed, and let some newcomers get in the groove.” But some people (OK, mainly my friend Melodie) have been bugging me to get going again. So I am going to get going again. Going.
Did you notice anything unusual about that first paragraph? It did not include a single contraction. You know, where you put two words together, take out a letter and add an apostrophe? In fact, I am going to try to write this entire blog entry without using a single contraction.
What brought up this obscure topic of conversation, you ask? I saw “True Grit” last night, the remake of the classic John Wayne western that stars Jeff Bridges. A little way into the movie, I noticed that the dialogue sounded a little different, but could not put my finger on what it was. Then it hit me: they were not using contractions. They said things like “I do not know this man.” It made me wonder if the writers had really done their homework. So I did a little homework.
After an exhaustive search, Answers.com gave me this information about contractions: “Written contractions are fairly recent. They are attempts to record in spelling the way people actually pronounce certain word combinations when speaking easily and informally. These “contracted” pronunciations, however, are very old, going all the way back to the earliest period of English.”
Great. That tells me a lot. Contractions are fairly new, but very old. At least they did not use contractions in the explanation. The fact of the matter is that, as Americans who regularly butcher the King’s English, we have started to depend quite a lot on contractions. In fact, my friend Melodie and I tried to go the whole day without using a single contraction. When speaking, it was really tough. When writing, not quite as bad, although I would not be surprised if someone found me using one in this entry, even though I am consciously trying not to. It is just not that easy.
Just to get into the spirit of the contraction thing, I thought I would include the School House Rock song for contractions at the end of this post, but you know what? I SCOURED youtube and the net for it, and could not. Did they not make a School House Rock video for contractions? I thought they did. So instead, I will include my personal favorite School House Rock video…Verb.
And tomorrow, try going the whole day without using a contraction…and let me know how you do.