Thursday, 21 June 2012

A Little Knowledge is a Tedious Thing

There is a certain type of tedious, pedantic dullard, who, when confronted
   with a wrongly positioned possessive apostrophe,
Will declaim, in loud, dramatic tones designed for all to hear, that this is a
   monumental catostrophe.
Any reasonable person might have thought that just because one small piece
   was missing from the puzzle of someone else’s education,
This wasn’t necessarily a forewarning of the imminent and total collapse of
   the whole of Western Civilization.

So anyway, a little later, when our dullard, 
Has recovard, 
You make your mind up,
To engage in a little pedantic wind up,
And use the word “stadiums” in a big, booming voice, loud and clear,
So that our tedious, pedantic dullard could not but hear.
Quick as a flash, the t-p dullard falls into the trap you have set. “Aah-ahh-
Surely you mean Stadia?!”
To which you reply that, being English, and therefore a follower of the rules of
   English grammar, when making a singular word plural you invariably add 
   an ‘s’,
And that changing the word ending to an ‘a’ to signify a plural would create a
   most unnecessary syntactic mess.
To which they reply, falling further into the trap, that, "Stadium is a Latin 
   word and one should therefore use the Latin plural if one wished to be 
   grammatically proper",
At which point you apprehend them, like a grammatical copper,
For, you point out, Latin words change their endings not just for plurals but
   also for the nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, ablative and dative,
And this could get really confusing if, every time you wanted to use a Latin
   word, you thought it necessary to speak Latin like a Latin native.
The Romans, you point out, really hitting your stride, would not have said “to
   the stadium” but something like “stadio”, neither would they have said, “of 
   the stadium” but perhaps “stadii”, so if you wish to avoid this semantic and 
   syntactic mess,
Well, then, shut up about pluralizing Latin words with an ‘s’.

Not to be defeated, the pedant then rails against your use of a noun as a verb,
As if there could be nothing on Earth quite so absurb.
“Who,” they scoff, “would be such a butcher of the English language as to 
   turn a noun into a verb?” and they wait in gleeful superiority as if to their 
   brilliant riposte there is no reply,
And you say, “Why,
Surely a certain Mr William Shakespeare was very fond of the whole noun-to-
   verb transformation?”
Highlighting yet another gap in the pedant’s education.

Now, the pedant, if he has any sense,
Will swiftly move to the other side of the pedantic fence,
And recant his former pedantry,
As a state of mind which is equivalent to being intellectually sedentary.
Pedantry, he will have realized, really, is cheap and ineffectual,
As a way of trying to appear innallectual.
The former pedant will hopefully have learned that the answer to this
   question: “How often is pedantry genuinely clever?”
Is, “Never.”

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