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Forty-Second Sort

The Language Police Catch Dear Jon

by Dear Jon
April 19, 2001

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Forty-Second Sort_Dear Jon-The Language Police Catch Dear Jon ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON

Dear Jon,

I am tired of all this talk about snobbery! Just because a person places different values on the importance of cultural events, it does not make his or her opinion more correct! A person who watches monster truck pulls and WWF has just as valid ideas as...where was I going with this?

Tired of Snobs


Dear Tired, Beats me. If you're tired from all the monster trucks, take a "mental break" and read some John Grisham novels.

ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON

Dear Jon,

Just because everyone's doing it, that doesn't make it right. There is no such thing as "daylight savings time." It's "daylight saving time."

Web developer in St. Paul with nothing better to do than to watch the river rise around his feet and write smartypants letters to Internet advice columnists who will next be reading what Dear Jon has to say about, "The Role of Snobbery in American Culture," to find out what we language police are doing for the country after he reads the Fortieth and Forty-First sort.


Dear Web developer in St. Paul with nothing better to do than to watch the river rise around his feet and write smartypants letters to Internet advice columnists who will next be reading what Dear Jon has to say about, "The Role of Snobbery in American Culture," to find out what we language police are doing for the country after he reads the Fortieth and Forty-First sort:

I did not know that. I always assumed that if everyone does something, it means it must be okay. Also, I did not know that Daylight Savings Time was really Daylight Saving Time. Also, I did not care. But thank you for writing, anyway. It lets me know I'm alive.


ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON

Is your spelling of trailer and observer with an o instead of an e a sign of subliminal highbrow desires? It seems to reflect the "I know something you don't know" mentality of highbrow-ness.

Rural Wisconsinite


Dear Rural: Anyone who is Middle Brow and cannot openly admit to "highbrow desires" is either neurotic or paranoid. I think I have made it very plain that my highbrow desires are not at all subliminal, they are quite conscious.

The "o" instead of the "e" is a phenomenon familiar to conscientious Middle Brow professionals, particularly in the field of education. No longer do we call this vowel substitution a "mistake." No longer do we ascribe it to poor spelling skills, or poor typing skills, or deadline pressures that must be met using old software without "spell check" because my readers are depending on me and I don't have time to look anything up. It is now called "non standard usage." Anyone who cares about uplifting the self-esteem of another realizes that spelling is no longer a matter of "right" or "wrong." It is a matter of "standard" and "non standard."

I am NOT kidding. My wife has Illinois Teacher certification study guides that are geared to making her "sensitive" to "non standard usages."

Besides, English spelling was not standardized until centuries after the invention of the printing press. The process of "standardization" was not at all democratic. So really, sticklers for such issues as "spelling" are subliminal captives to their own conformist arrogance, which was given birth during the Enlightenment and conditioned like so many of Pavlov's dogs in the classrooms of their youth.

Whether you buy that explanation or you tend to think the problem is with my rushed typing, Rural Wisconsin, welcome to the Post-Modorn Werld. Try not to lose any sleep over it though.


Coming Monday: Dear Jon catches up with poet Jon Deer. But keep the Dear Jon Letters coming! Use the simple anonymous form below.

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