Last week I received an email from a grade school teacher and friend asking for gently used clothes and household items. She went on to explain that these “hammy downs” would be used to help “diss dressed” families. (Of course, if these families were dissed for the way they dressed, I’m not sure any of my contributions would help.)
Then, over the weekend I read a newspaper health column about the dangers of high blood pressure. It seems that if you leave it untreated you could be susceptible to “my grain headaches.” (It wasn’t clear to me whether that was related to being allergic to gluten, but it certainly made me rethink my choice of having cereal for breakfast.)
While this is only two of the most recent incidents, it made me realize that the Slurvians were here, and they were beginning to take over. In fact, if you take the time to notice, you’ll find evidence of them almost everywhere.
Go out to Google and check…there are 202,000 results for “lactose and tolerant,” 178,000 for “all in tents and purposes” (and that wasn’t including the camping stores), and 16,000 hits for “infer structure.”
It’s the Slurvians…they’re taking the English language and turning it into…well, Slurvian. They’re hell-bent on taking our beloved English language and twisting it into something strange and bizarre. They have no regard for tradition, rules, or structure. They can take the simplest of words and phrases and make them into something unrecognizable.
We have to band together and stay strong. It’s the only way to keep the language safe. The difficulty is in recognizing these Slurvians. They’re insidious and clever, yet completely normal looking. They could be your friend, your co-worker, or your next-door-neighbor. But, no matter how innocuous they seem, you can’t trust them. If you’re not careful, they’ll take over your writing and turn you into a Slurvian, too.
[With special thanks to Richard Lederer, who introduced the term “Slurvian” in his 1987 Dell book Anguished English.]