These Are the Things That Keep Me Up At Night

I am bizarrely fascinated by pronunciation.

(Let us pause to absorb the geekiness of that previous sentence. Carry on.)

Sometimes the differences are endearing.  I love to hear my dear British friend Yvonne say "garage" to rhyme with "carriage". I think it's adorable that my dad puts another "L" in "alleluia" (he says "alleluLia"). It's great fun that Hubs and I have bickered for 15 years over the right way to say "thorough" (he says "THUR-oh", I say "THUR-uh") and "roof" (his rhymes with "aloof", mine rhymes with "hoof").

But I don't always find it entertaining; sometimes I climb up on my pronunciation high horse. I visibly wince when someone pronounces "realtor" as "REAL-it-or". (Side note: This weekend I spoke to a real estate agent, of all people, who didn't say it the right way. I bit my tongue and resisted the urge to shout, "RESPECT YOURSELF, MAN!")  My Republican heart cracked a little every time Dubya said "NOOK-yuh-lur". And back in my office days I had a boss who insisted on saying "fLustrated" instead of "fRustrated", and I may or may not have made faces behind his back.

Since I am entirely inconsistent in my pronunciation moral authority, I don't feel qualified to make a stand on the following issue: the "r" in February. I've always said "FEB-yoo-ary"; in fact, I have a vague memory
of being taught in elementary school that the "r" is supposed
to remain silent. More and more, though, I seem to be encountering people who say "FEB-roo-ary". (And it's not pretty.  I think "FEB-roo-ary" sounds a little like the speaker
just had some painful dental work done, but she still has Novacaine and Valium in her system.)

This site says you should include the "r", this one says you can keep it silent. I hope those r-sayers are wrong, because I think I'm too forgetful and stubborn to make the switch.

How do you say it? Blog Poll

An Open Letter To Yankees Regarding Use of the Word “Y’all”

Dear Northern People (and yes, we really do call you "Yankees" behind your back, but we mean it in the nicest way possible),

It would appear that many of you are beginning to desire to add the word "y’all" to your vocabulary.  I do not blame you.  It is an excellent word, rich in culture, and full of practical application.  And we Southerners are gracious (MY STARS, we are gracious).  We will share this word with you happily, because we feel should not be discriminated against just because you did not have the good sense to be born in God’s Country.

So by all means, take our word "y’all" and use it with pride.  You are just as welcome to it as you can be.  But please, please, use it properly.  An improper "y’all" use is just a slap in the face of all we hold dear, and we cannot bear it.  Here is what you need to know:

1.  "Y’all" is never, ever, ever, EVER singular.  It must refer to a group.  If you refer to one person as y’all, then, I’m sorry, but we can hear your Yankee-ness loud and clear.

2.  Even if you have a thick New York accent, you must attempt to say "y’all" with a southern accent.  "Y’all" spoken with a northern accent just does not work.  Go ahead, throw yourself into it: YA-A-A-AWL.  Please pronounce every one of those A’s.

3.  You may hear your Southern friends say "all y’all".  This is perfectly acceptable for native Southerners.  If you are a transplant, tread carefully.  In order to pull off "all y’all", you have to have some heritage behind you.

4.  Conversely, do NOT use "y’all guys."  It is just wrong.  And when you leave the room we will laugh at you, but we will be sure to tack on a "bless his heart" at the end.

5.  Let us discuss the spelling.  "Y’all" is a contraction of "you" and "all".  Therefore, the apostrophe MUST go in the place of the "ou".  It is "y’all".  Not "ya’ll".

6.  Be prepared.  If you adopt our fine word and go back home to your northern friends and family, they will give you great grief for sounding like a hillbilly.  Bear up, my friend–it is a burden we Southerners have borne for years.  Be comforted that your new word brings with it the brilliant heritage of Faulkner and O’Connor.  And also cheese grits.

I Love You All, Even Though You’re Dead Wrong



Who knew so many of you pronounced it THUR-oh?  I’m a THUR-uh girl myself, even though Lisa said "I envision ‘thur-uh’ coming out of the mouth of a man named Jim Bob Billy as he is sitting in front of an old gas station with a piece of straw hanging out of his mouth."

Seeing as how I grew up around people named Jim Bob Billy who sit in front of gas stations, I suppose this would explain things. 

But really and truly, without a bit of sarcasm (OH, not a BIT) I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for participating so enthusiastically in a survey that publicly proves me wrong in a 14-year-old debate with my husband.  Oh, he’s just going to be a peach to live with tonight. 

Thoroughly Hopeless

Four children, three states, four mortgages, 427 bouts of stomach viruses and even more episodes of tearfully bad hair coloring (mine, not Hubs)…and I think my marriage may have finally encountered the deal-breaker*:

Is the word "thorough" pronounced THUR-oh or THUR-uh?

(And no, do not tell me how the dictionary says to say it.  Tell me how you say it.  And no, I won’t tell you which one is mine and which one is Hubs’, except to tell you that mine is the right one.)

*I jest, of course.  We are absolutely, totally, geekily, happily, grammatically in love.  There are no deal-breakers in this marriage.  Though if there were one, it would probably be related to bad pronunciation.  I’m just sayin’.

Works For Me: I vs. Me

WfmwsmallYesterday I wrote about containerizing Pop Tarts, and today I’m writing about proper grammar.  I’m not sure when I became the scary, nerdy librarian of the blogosphere, but evidently I have passed the point of no return.

Y’all know how I love good grammar, and there’s a simple tip to avoid a common grammar pratfall (I have to use this one all the time). 

When you’re writing or speaking about yourself and another person, it’s easy to mix up the personal pronouns.  For example, "Janie and I" or "Janie and me".  Which one do you use?

Just take out the "Janie and", leaving you with only the personal pronoun.  The one that sounds the most natural is almost always the right one.  Here’s an example:

Janie and me found a great bargain yesterday.

Take out "Janie and".  You’re left with "me found a great bargain yesterday."  Unless you are a caveman (with impressive shopping skills), you know that sounds awkward.  So it should read

Janie and I found a great bargain yesterday.

Let’s move it to the end of the sentence:

That fabulous sale was meant for Janie and I.

Again, take out "Janie and."   Would you say "That fabulous sale was meant for I"?  Of course not.  So the sentence should read

That fabulous sale was meant for Janie and me.

It’s a quick little short-cut that works for me, all the time.  And it probably already works for many of you as well (really, I do not mean to insult the intelligence of my fellow grammar lovers–I know there are many of you, and I adore you to the very core of my conjunctive participle). 

Have a WFMW tip you’d like to share with the blogosphere?  Leave your link below.  Remember to look through the guidelines, especially if this is your first time to participate.  As always, thanks for playing along!

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34. Tina in Thailand (less sugar)
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36. LeeAnn (AKA Frazzmom) quick change for crib sheets
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38. Mrs Pear (Freezer scones)
39. Mom Is Teaching (cleaning and decluttering)
40. Daiquiri (Frugal Family Fun)
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42. Womanly Pursuits (serving your hostess when you have dietary restrictions)
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108. Jack\’s Mommy (Household Budget Notebook)
109. Briggie (conversion chart)
110. fullheartandhands mama (Very Easy Homemade Pizza Crust)
111. Mommin\’ It Up! (backwards, hep with infant car seat

112. Beth@I Can Fly (Freeware for Memorizing Verses)
113. Miranda(soy sauce substitute)
114. Dawn @ Baby Addiction (How To Talk To Boys)
115. Llama Momma (cooling oatmeal)
116. Lorraine (Don\’t Squeeze the Charmin)
117. Jenny from Chicago (Scrub brush substitute)
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119. Coralie (baby footwear that never falls off)
120. Mama Says (Feed a crowd, under $5)
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186. Mamacita (cute bargain gift bags)
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188. Alana (Reading w/ kids)
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190. Amy@P2P (frugal tip)
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194. Sarah (get rid of smells)
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199. Kathy (quick cleaning for guests)
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210. SAHMmy Says (free photobook offer today!)
211. The Nourishing Gourmet-hearty quinoa cookies
212. Proverbs 31 (stain remover)
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217. Rag-Tag Believer (marinades & gravy)
218. The Garveys (jump start with Natl Frugality Week ideas)
219. Laane (flashlight near door)
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230. Jenne (Sibling Arguments)
231. Jennifer (handmade baby tag blanket)
232. Christine (three tips for taking great pics of your children)
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235. Christine (dry socks fast)

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Grammatically Speaking

This post was originally published on August 29, 2006.

My mom is an English teacher.  "Ahhhhh," you’re saying, "NOW I get it."

I grew up in a rural Arkansas town where poor grammar is as much a part of life as Friday night football.  Combine the two, and you had the weekly chant from the stands, as the refs carefully measured a play, "MOVE THEM CHAINS!  MOVE THEM CHAINS!"  Not my mother.  She instructed my brother and me that oh-yes-ma’am our family chants, "MOVE THOSE CHAINS!  MOVE THOSE CHAINS!"  We stood out a little, but around our house, it was appropriate to fall on your sword for good grammar. 

And it rubbed off on me, definitely.  The most romantic thing that happened to me in adolescence was a secret admirer who, for a period of a couple of weeks, covered my ’78 powder blue Pontiac Grand Prix with flowers overnight, every night, as it sat in our driveway.  The first morning, when my mother and I dashed out to investigate, we snagged the note that was tucked under the windshield.  It read,


These are for you; I hope you enjoy them. 


My mother and I, equally giddy, looked at each other and squealed, "HE USED A SEMI-COLON!"

So it should come as no surprise that my sweet Joseph crawled into my lap sniffling last week.  "Mom," he whimpered, "I hurt my toe badly." 

"Oh, sweet boy," I said, rubbing his foot.  "I’m so proud of you for using an adverb."

Works For Me: Its vs. It’s

I’m not a grammar snob, really.  Okay, so maybe I’m just a little bit of a grammar snob.  Teeny tiny.  Just on the big grammar doozies, like your vs. you’re and I vs. me and OH-FOR-THE-LOVE-OF-PETE its vs. it’s.  I’m sorry, y’all, but it’s time for the bloggers of the world to unite and master it/it’s.  I see it done incorrectly on blogs all the time, (including, ahem, my own, when I’m proofreading). 

Here’s my little trick to help me remember the right way to do it:

Imagine that the little apostrophe is the letter i.  Therefore, when you write it’s, you are writing it is.  When you are writing its, you are using the possessive form of the word (as in, "Shannon’s blog has reached its highest level of control-freakishness now.") 

Works for me!

For more riveting grammar advice, check out Dr. Grammar. I love this stuff!

If you’d like to share your advice with Blogland, please link below!