Weird Al | Word Crimes (Blurred Lines parody)
Today was a horrible news day. The Malaysia Airlines crash, Gaza, a super racist casting call, the transphobic cover of Science magazine. So I thought I would go home and watch all the Weird Al videos that came out this week: Foil (parody of Lorde’s Royals), Handy (parody of Iggy Azalea’s Fancy), Tacky (parody of Pharrell’s Happy), and this.
And somehow, even Weird Al managed to irk me! He’s clearly a smart guy, and it’s disappointing he’s pushing a prescriptivist message here - that there is one correct grammar, and that’s the grammar of white people from the ’50s. Anyone else was raised “in a sewer” - or, you know, grew up speaking a different dialect or language, or didn’t have the privilege of receiving an upper class language arts education.
Language is a living, breathing thing, and like it or not, “literally” now means “figuratively,” and we can end sentences with prepositions whenever we want to. (See what I did there? Sorry.) Using “proper grammar” is an indication of your class, not your intelligence. It may seem like a frivolous thing to be irked by, but to me, the attitude of self-proclaimed grammar nazis is not much different from a xenophobe’s declaration that “we speak English here in ‘murrica”: it’s about whether or not you speak the “right” language to signal that you fit in with the upper class.
Equally irksome: A LINGUIST IS NOT A PERSON WHO EDITS YOUR GRAMMAR! A linguist is a person who studies languages. Of all people in the world, linguists are probably least likely to endorse this type of message, because their entire job relies on understanding that language is a social construction.
Also, I will never stop using emojis and YOU CAN’T MAKE ME, Weird Al. 💩