Friday, July 23, 2010

I’m Often a Softy

I am actually not much of a word snob though I do try to watch my P’s and Q’s when it comes to spelling and the proper use of language. My folks have always been big readers and have great respect for the written word, so I think it is what you would call a family trait, or CURSE … I’m not sure which? If I send a fast e-mail or scribble out a Post-It note to someone and I inadvertently misspell a word, or make some other grammatical ‘faux pas’, I will literally CRINGE at the thought for days after.

Honestly it is not an ‘ego’ thing since most people who know me, do not have extraordinarily high language expectations from a bonafide ‘Ya Ya’, with the I.Q. of a saltine anyway. You see just there, I am not above making up my own words (actually my father’s word), crafting glorious run-on sentences, or using non-standard English to make a point even if obscure. It’s just that when it comes to communication, I DO CARE to get it right someday, as opposed to my lack of mastery of truly difficult things like ‘loading a dishwasher’, ‘working an ATM’, or ‘setting an alarm clock’.

So what sparked all this verbal dysentery (my 8th grade science teacher’s pithy assessment of my gift for relentless self-expression) was simply the word ‘OFTEN’. When I was young, I was taught to say this word with a silent ‘T’, therefore the pronunciation is the soft-sounding “ AUFF-EN”. As I have aged and dried up, like old cheese and watered-down wine , it appears that more and more people are pronouncing this word with the hard ‘T’ sound as “AUFF – TEN”. Now you may say ‘who cares’, but to a ‘melon-head’ of my ilk – this is of great importance indeed.

I mean for wordsmiths, this is on the level of ‘big deals’ that equates to religious folks, debating that Jesus just knew Mary Magdalene as the ‘Apostles of Apostles’, or the ‘J-man’ ‘KNEW’ Mary after one too many ‘goat-sacks’ of Gallo. Hey I know pronouncing ‘Often’ correctly won’t prove I’m a Saint or a trollop, but it sure will change how I pronounce other verby words like ‘Listen’ ‘Unfasten’, ‘Hasten’, &‘Soften’. Hmmm, suddenly I’m flushed and feeling a little spent. if I smoked, I think I just earned a cigarette? Guess that clears that up – I’m definitely a ‘soft-T’ Trollop.


  1. I'm a trollop too, then! :) (soft-T only!)

    Your writing makes me smile...:O)

  2. I'm the same way. Mispronunciation and bad grammar, especially bad grammar, drive me batty. And too, if I misspell a word, let's say when leaving a comment, I am in anguish. I want to take it back.

    This is how wrongly uptight I am about it. I had a boy in college who would write me passionate love letters confessing his love for me.It took everything I had not to circle his errors in red and send them back to him. I know this is just awful, but I will confess, one of the main reasons I stopped seeing him was because his spelling and grammar were so poor. So, there, I've said it. I broke up with someone because they were a bad speller. I am horrid.

  3. Don't even get me started on frequently misspelled words. "ALOT" really gets my goat. It's A LOT!!! What is an ALOT?!! A monster?

    That said, I do pronounce "often" WITH the "T", and I don't think that's wrong. Of course, I AM CANADIAN....errr....sort of.

    According to my sources:
    [aw-fuhn, of-uhn; awf-tuhn]
    \ˈȯ-fən, ÷ˈȯf-tən\

  4. I'm a joker
    I'm a smoker (quit thank goodness)
    I'm a midnight toker
    I get my lovin' on the run

    But now YOU are a member of Team ICB
    I Can't Blog

  5. I pronounce often with the soft T also.
    But how do you pronounce "trollop" with
    a soft T? wouldn't that be more like "Rollop?"

    And, as I think about it, I never knew males could be trollops. If they can, please don't
    tell me about it.