Know Your Words

The other day, I was listening to the radio when I heard an insurance commercial. I was only partially giving it my attention if at all, but something at the end caught my attention seconds after I heard it.

“Tomorrow, there will be a pop quiz!” said some random female voice, presumably impersonating a teacher.

I may not have the exact phrase from the commercial, but I know I have the gist of it. I have heard the commercial only a couple of times since, but I only paid attention enough to make sure I was hearing what I thought I heard. I didn’t need to know anything about the commercial other than that last line.

The thing is, pop quizzes aren’t announced. What makes it a “pop” quiz is that you don’t know it is coming. Otherwise, it is a quiz. Or maybe a test. But pop quizzes by their very nature are sprung upon the students as a way to see if they are paying attention or keeping up with their studying.

Yes, I pay attention to these types of things, because language means a lot to me. I’m that person who cringes if someone asks if one of the teams got a home run while I am watching a football game (and I’m guessing some of you don’t realize the difference now). I have certain expectations when it comes to people knowing what they are talking about when engaging in a conversation. Otherwise, I would just recommend not saying anything.

The commercial is an example of someone completely blowing it. With the commercial coming from a major nationwide company, I had much higher expectations. It was surprisingly lacking in research and, at least to me, completely missed the target.

I’ve harped on language issues before, but it seems as if we are going in the wrong direction. Maybe it is the influence of social media or possibly it is just laziness, but we live in a society where getting words right is almost considered wrong. People are rewarded for lacking a clue when it comes to which words to use.

I’m sure I will continue to point out the issues we have in this world with using proper language, but hopefully others will appreciate that we have a problem. If not, I guess we will continue beating a drum that nobody wants to hear.


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