OPINION – Whenever there is an accident, crime, fire, shooting or other newsworthy event the TV reporter invariably chooses to interview the dimmest person present. And what do they say as soon as the microphone is thrust in their face? “I seen it, or I seen him, or I seen them, or, I seen her, I seen the kids, or I seen the guy with the gun.”
Give me a break! Not only does it sound wrong, it is grammatically incorrect. The correct usage is, “I saw it,” whatever it was. You don’t have to be a teacher, writer, or linguist to figure this out. And nobody ever corrects these morons. They don’t know or care if they speak like an idiot.
Why does this phenomenon exist? I’m not sure, but it is probably the same syndrome that makes aliens land out in the country. That way a farmer, hunter or fisherman is the only one who sees the UFO. And what does he or she say, “I seen it, It come down out the sky glowing like a fire cracker lit on both ends and spewin’ out the middle.” There is one other guy who can confirm the above, but he’s a poacher and won’t admit he was there.
So we are stuck with these clueless eyewitnesses. Sometimes they’re humorous but most often they just sound stupid. Maybe the reporter should say, ‘Describe what you saw.” Then they would probably say, “What I seen is this.” I know it’s nitpicky but it is a pet peeve of mine. Like people confusing there, their, and they’re. This is something you have to see in writing to ascertain the right word. A person who writes, “It was there gun cuz I new he was gonna shoot it,” probably seen it happen.
So why be so holier than thou? Because there is a right and wrong way to speak and write our language. That’s why this whole text vocabulary and things like spell-check really bother me. If a little old lady writes LOL she means lots of love, not laugh out loud. That could be funny or cause serious misunderstandings. Millions of people are texting WTF when they have probably never said it during their lifetime.
We have an entire generation of young people who can’t spell. They just use spellcheck and move on. That doesn’t take into account the use of the word, homonyms, or homographs. These same people can’t tell time or tie their shoes. They can read time on a digital readout or connect the Velcro strips on their shoes. True, they can program our VCR for us, but that’s different.
England and America are two countries separated by a common language. It shouldn’t be the same for us and our youngsters.
Take a minute to ponder the following. What if the crime took place in front of the Harvard Law School and the alien landed at MIT? Then we might be faced with, “The alleged perpetrator, a Caucasian of medium build, brown hair and eyes, no distinguishing marks or tattoos was seen fleeing the scene.” Compare that with, “I seen a small white guy book.” Take your pick. Would you rather hear,”The creature, short in stature with an almond shaped head and encompassing green aura apparently tried to communicate in a tonal manner,” OR, “This strange little green dude made some weird noises and disappeared, I seen it.”
If the proper response is perhaps somewhere in between the two extremes mentioned above, it could be stated thusly, “I saw a little white guy run away or the funny sounding alien vanished.”
Maybe I have been too hard on our “seen” people. What prompted the above rambling rant was a rainstorm at Sun River. I was at the pool when it began to thunder and I saw several lightning strikes. I barely got home in time before I was drenched driving my golf cart. Along the way to my house I saw people standing in their garage or by the front door watching the deluge. It was as if they had never experienced rain before. It was the first time I saw it rain at my new home but not in my life. People ran out to look in the gulch or gully. It was a real frog strangler! The water was cascading down the street and over the rocks. A guy came walking back up the street when things had quieted down. “There was whitewater down there, I seen it,” he said. How did he know I was a reporter, I wondered.
Submitted by Larry Harris
Larry Harris is a Vietnam veteran and a retired teacher. He participates in a creative writing group at SunRiver St. George. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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