Readers of The New York Times Magazine column On Language by the late (great) William Safire will recognize this little play on words. It made me double over with laughter when I first read it. Safire actually had a Portuguese Water Dog named Peeve. I'm sure he chose the name so he could have the pleasure of introducing the canine to visitors as "Meet my pet, Peeve." Mr. Safire claimed that this dog understood quite a few words, some of which might not be in my vocabulary. I think our dachshund Tobler (named after the triangular Toblerone chocolate bar), does actually know a number of words: Mommy, Daddy, cookie, walk, etc. However, when I say "outside" in a loud voice, he usually runs away and hops up on the furthest bed, chair or couch. This activity must be his idea, not mine. But I digress.
Many of my personal pet peeves have to do with language: specifically misspellings and poor grammar. Some of the things I hear people say and write make me cringe. (I won't name names.) If I had made these mistakes, My English teacher, Mr. Lloyd, would have certainly kept me after school at the blackboard. This particular instructor (ghostly pale and always wearing a black suit and tie) would get out his red pencil if you so much as used a contraction. He viewed it as a weak form of writing. Actually, I think he was right about that.
In my final job, I was the oldest person in my office. Several times each day, someone would show up at my desk to ask the correct spelling of a word or for assistance with grammar. Do they not teach these things in school anymore? One of my favorite moments was when a colleague challenged me about a phrase in an article. The interviewee had said "my children, having reached their majority," meaning that her offspring had reached the age of 21. This colleague, who was my supervisor at the time, was so sure I was wrong that she hadn't bothered to Google it.
I'll admit to being a language snob. Maybe I should get that T-shirt that says, "In my mind, I am silently correcting your grammar." I taught school for five years so I cannot help myself. When someone mispronounces a word, I have to bite my tongue. The Greek and Latin roots of words fascinate me. Crossword puzzles, Scrabble and writing make me happy. I'm a word person through and through. Just don't make me do algebra, calculus or even Sudoku.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.