I have a thing about words, about language, enough to be thoroughly embarrassed when I get it wrong. I try unsuccessfully not to lovingly nurse my peeves about grammar and word choice. Something grates on me about the incorrect differentiation of farther/further, as/like, fewer/less, well/good, skeptical/cynical, and the ubiquitous its/it’s. Fingernails on a chalkboard couldn’t be more disturbing than “they” with a singular antecedent, reference to “these kind” of examples, or quotation marks (British translation: inverted commas) used as decoration rather than a contribution to meaning.
My irritating pedantry softened somewhat after spending hours listening to a linguist/historian teach how language predictably evolves—crude usage becomes standard, poor grammar gravitates to being the norm, and mispronunciation drops its “mis.” It was downright humbling or at least deflating to learn so much of my revered correct usage began life as something, in its time, thought by persons of refined taste to be crude, uneducated, or vulgar.
Should I abandon my religious (!) addiction to the verbal rules I value so much? Maybe chilling out would liberate me to say discomforting things . . . like its obvious that everyone knows they must adjust to less rules even without farther examples. Yet, in the afterlife all those less obsessive than I will surely get their comeuppance. I can see the attraction of religion.