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Pet Peeves Irk Columnist ... For Rill
I was asked the other day if I have any pet peeves. Of course I said no, seeing as how I’m such a nice, non-judgmental kind of guy. And if you believe that, I have a bridge over White River I’d like to sell you.
I do have pet peeves, lots of them -- so many, in fact, that they have to be categorized according to type and level of peevitude.
I have behavioral pet peeves. For example, when we are talking, please don’t put your hand in the air like a cop stopping traffic, and then take a cell phone call. Excepting, of course, emergencies. I’m not THAT peevish.
I have dining-out pet peeves. Waitperson, please don’t say “excellent choice” after I order. I highly doubt you are speaking from the heart. I could order a slab of lard with anchovy cream sauce, and I’ll bet half the waitpeople in town would murmur “Excellent choice, sir” just as a matter of reflex. Don’t worry, though. I’ll still tip you.
And I have linguistic pet peeves. One in particular has really been getting on my nerves lately: Rill.
I hear this a lot, especially from young people. It’s how they think you pronounce “real.” As in, “For rill?” Which they usually tell them the word is pronounced “reel.”
I hear the same sort of thing with the word “mail,” often pronounced “mel.” As in “I have to check my e-mel.” I keep wanting to ask, “E. Mel who?”
I’m not sure why these things stick in my craw the way they do. It’s not like I’m Professor Language Man. I have my own pronunciational foibles, owing to my Northern Indiana background. For instance, I tend to answer the affirmative “Yah” instead of “Yeah” or, more properly, “Yes.”
Why? Beats me. I’m not German. I think it’s because my grandmother, who was descended from Swiss Mennonites, said it that way. Maybe “Yah” was passed down through the generations, along with the dessert recipes.
I also have a tendency to lapse into the manner of speech I call the “Great Lakes Gargle.” It’s the accent of people who live where it’s so cold that they don’t really want to commit their tongues to any unnecessary exposure. That being the case, they tend to pronounce things in the back of their throats: “No,” for example, almost sounds like “Nole.” Does it come out of my mouth that way? Yah, sometimes.
At least I can blame my pronunciation on geography and genetics. I don’t think you can say the same for “rill” and “mel.”
Oh, and “ax” for ask. I’m sorry, there’s no excuse for anyone over the age of 3 pronouncing “ax” for “ask.” Or chimbley. I talked to a guy last year, had to be at least 40 years old at least, not stupid, who kept saying chimbley for chimney. I hadn’t heard that once since about the second grade. Just about drove me nuts.
Which, of course, is precisely what pet peeves are designed to do. All you can do is remind yourself that you can’t really do anything about them. Some things, I’m afraid, just have to be lived with.
That doesn’t mean you have to go along with them. But it would be best if you keep their annoyance at peeve level, because unchecked, a peeve can grow into something that WILL put you on top of a building with a high-powered rifle, and we certainly don’t want that.
© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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