Friday, June 18th, 2010
57

The "Snuck" Wars, Round Two

gonna SNEAK UP ON YA!If it is war you want, it is war you can have, Paris Review. Yes, some of us are pitied, mocked, shamed, ignored, etc., some of us receive a veritable Push of language-related insults, all for just the way we use English. (I, for one, do not use the word "iron" in public because of how it comes out of my mouth.) Believe me, I surely know far better about the shaming than anyone who spends long weeks composing copy for your tidy, august publication. Yet NEVER, never, shall snuck be a word and saying that it is, with your sole case being "because people say it is," still does not make it so. (And this is no case of "small people": there is no regionalism, no foreignness, no cross-cultural misunderstanding.) Yes, my literary dears, someone "told me" it wasn't a word. That is called "an education." You may write a note of thanks to those ass-people at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Drive. (Also, check the OED.) And though I also come from a people who say things like "y'all" and even worse things than that, that has no bearing on illicit creations of irregular verb tenses, and likewise no bearing on my expectation that your publication be a brave front guard against devolution, at the same time as it is a proponent of exciting evolution in literature! Snuck is one of those things and not at all the other!

57 Comments / Post A Comment

That looks like my cousin-in-law…

Art Yucko (#1,321)

or me at age 20, if i had fried my noodle on "Joe Kool" deadhead acid

scroll_lock (#4,122)

This is that abs guy from yestiddy, right?

That guy! He's here, too: http://thepoorman.net/

scroll_lock (#4,122)

A Tigger's a wonderful thing.

saythatscool (#101)

If you ever see me with that look in my eye scrolly, best to run and don't look back.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Is your bottom made out of springs, too?

bottom
Hee!

KenWheaton (#401)

TTFN! Woo-hoo-hoo! Etc.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Also, if they're going off on words, etc could they please attack the rampant use of "there's" instead of "there're". If it does not stop someone's getting hurt.

cherrispryte (#444)

But is "there're" a legitimate contraction?

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@cherri: Spoken more often than written. The point is, "there's" means "there is" and is grammatically incorrect when meant to replace "there are". And it's the bane of my existence.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

I just spent three minutes trying to say "there're", and every time it sounded like I had a Bit 'o Honey in my mouth. I tried!

scroll_lock (#4,122)

You're trying too hard. Let it flow naturally.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

The last time I was compelled to dramatically change my speech, my mom got me to stop saying "seen" instead of "saw" and "aks" instead of "ask." And she did it by smashing me with a wooden spoon.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

I seen her point.

A.R. Chrisman (#2,964)

Y'all is sum stuck up azzholez.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@A.R.: Correction: "All y'all"

A.R. Chrisman (#2,964)

I want to get The Paris Review's input on this.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Paris Review replies: Nous sommes les assholez.

Irregardless, I could care less about this.

saythatscool (#101)

See i still say "I could care less" because it's sarcastic.
Somebody tell me why I'm wrong, seriously.

kneetoe (#1,881)

stc: Because you're always wrong???

(I will be sorely disappointed if this fails to get the usual response!)

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@STC: Me and him think you're wrong. Her and her Mom think so too.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

You're wrong because, even though you're saying it sarcastically, whatever charm or humor it may have once had wore off long ago and the people that act mildly bemused every time you say it ironically are secretly hoping your tongue is torn out by the talons of a passing eagle.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

And there I go again with the bad grammar, using bemused instead of amused. I apologize.

saythatscool (#101)

@kneetoe: Damnit kneeetoe!

@petejayhawk: Fine, you don't like the phrase, but it's not wrong. You can still say it either way.

jrb (#3,020)

@scroll_lock And Zooey Deschanel will get up in your face, WNYC, if you say her band name is bad grammar.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@jrb: I'd also advise her that the name is spelled "Zoe". She'll love that.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

You'll have to take that up with whatsisface.

iplaudius (#1,066)

Wikipedia says it best: “Most irregular verbs exist as remnants of historical conjugation systems. What is today an exception actually followed a set, normal rule long ago. When that rule fell into disuse, some verbs kept the old conjugation.” (link)

The Paris Review argument would have certain irregularities turned into “normal rules” some of the time. I guess this makes sense, “if like a crab you could go backward.”

So, which irregularities, and when should they be adopted? When the literary folks writing for publications like the Paris Review decide that enough people are saying snuck instead of sneaked? This is not helpful!

scroll_lock (#4,122)

I just want the Brits to stop saying "smelt" for "smelled". I guess that's a lot to ax.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

::smack::

iplaudius (#1,066)

Yes, but then you can’t rhyme “must have dealt it.”

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Well, the word "impossible" was originally "inpossible," but was changed over centuries of use to the easier-to-say pair of bilabials. (Yes, teehee.) "Im-", of course, is not a prefix in any language I've ever heard of. A similar word in the earlier stages of this process is the neologism "input," which everyone thinks of as "in-" but instinctively says as "im-".

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Plaud: A problem easily avoided. Say "He who sensed it, dispensed it."

mickeyitaliano (#2,202)

I'm a Punch an Details guy

raygunn (#2,168)

I love a good language war, but "snuck" is in Webster's as a valid variant for "sneaked." And Webster's is the American dictionary of record, not OED. Just sayin'.

LesBeFriends (#2,786)

AGREED.
We might as well start asking the queen to appoint our president.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Choire, are you implying your "iron" comes out like "ahrn"?!

jrb (#3,020)

A lifelong skittish reaction to the improper use of "impact" or any use of "amongst," courtesy of my 11th grade English teacher.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

I hate it when "presently" is misused where "currently" is intended.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

A prescriptivist, eh?

La Cieca (#1,110)

"Snuck" is 100% correct if you're writing dialogue for a character who is an illiterate Southerner rafting down the Mississippi with a runaway slave. Otherwise, "sneaked," always.

KenWheaton (#401)

Yall did an impactful job concepting this blog post and its comments. Looks like you dove right into it.

kneetoe (#1,881)

HAHAHA ". . . publication calling itself the Awl"!

You best start heaping more scorn if'n you wanna win this war.

Garner says "snuck" is at Stage 3 of the Language-Change Index:
"The form becomes commonplace even among many well-educated people but is still avoided in careful usage."
(Curiously, the egregious misuse of "begs the question" is apparently at Stage 4.)

By which I mean to say: May God have mercy on our souls.

Neopythia (#353)

Stage 5 is when the missles launch?

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

I think Stage 6 is the one where you're only interested in dudes.

JKJV (#1,068)

Choire, I hate to be that person, but it's Dodge AVENUE, not Drive. I know this because I am often at the Dominick's up the street buying cheap wine.

HiredGoons (#603)

*call me

Right back at you, Choire:

"Brothers and sisters, with all respect, your declaration of war is an admission of defeat. We beg you to reconsider this folly."

http://blog.theparisreview.org/2010/06/18/open-letter-to-the-awl/

carpetblogger (#306)

OMG you guys! Have you READ THE COMMENTS? Let's go over their and fuck their shit up.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

People who just say "y'uns" don't have all that much to brag about unless they go the whole hog and also say "y'uns's."

Connor (#4,136)

At least your locals don't say "warsh" or "slippy".

grandpa27 (#804)

I never sneaked into bed, I always snuck. It's quieter,

BadUncle (#153)

That snucking sound you hear? That's the Paris Review.

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