Friday, June 26, 2009

Color Me Surprised

I was reading an article today about the remains of a 35,000-year-old flute that was found in some cave in Germany. Whether or not the average person would find that interesting, I have no idea. It piqued my interest, being a music major and all, that even primitive man had a culture that included music, and even more that they actually crafted instruments. Halfway through the article, however, another of my passions was aroused: grammar. Actually, I wouldn't call it a passion, so much as a pet peeve when I find errors in places where there really shouldn't be. Seriously, is it so hard to proofread?

Sure, I make errors, just like anyone else. I try to catch them all before I hit "publish," but occasionally some will slip through. Still, there are two big differences between errors in my own writing and errors I find in articles like this: I don't have an editor to double-check my work, and I'm not getting paid.

Back to the point, I stumbled a bit when I came to the phrase, "The cave, which was occupied for millenniums . . ." Millenniums? Really? Well, imagine my surprise when I looked up in the dictionary and found that millenniums is actually an accepted word. It sounds a bit clumsy to my ear, but I suppose that's just because I've never heard it before. It's always been millennia. But either way is apparently correct.

I'm sure that anyone learning English as a second language would be thrilled at another word that simply needs to add an 's' to become plural, rather than memorizing some other strange rule. I've just started teaching myself German, and in that language, there are seven possible ways to form the plural of a noun. Seven! There certainly are patterns that emerge, but there are also a lot of words you just "need to know." (And I'm sure anyone who's studied a foreign language knows exactly what I mean about those certain things you just "need to know.") I can't compare to English, since I really couldn't tell you off hand how many abnormal ways we have to turn words plural, but Italian was so much simpler.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, just letting you know your new blog is being read.
    SD's blogs are probably the only thing keeping me sane at work (though I can't post comments from work - interweb overseers)