In a newspaper article a couple weeks ago, a reporter wrote, “While the outcome of Arkansas’ 41-38 loss to Alabama is one Razorback fans had just assume forget, the…”
The saddest part for me is that the story appeared in The Northwest Arkansas Times (NWAT), a daily newspaper in my home state. My initial excuse for this was, “Oh, it’s just sports,” but even a casual glance at other sports publications reveals how short-sighted that would be. Some sports writers are excellent wordsmiths who, unlike the more well-known sports announcers, do not use the same handful of four-syllable words so often they become meaningless.
The NWAT is a respected and award-winning publication, but the editors obviously let this one slip.
I admit that as a child I never knew exactly what people were saying when they used the phrase, “I’d just as soon shoot myself as admit my wife shot more deer than I did.” I thought maybe they were saying, “I’d just assume shoot myself…” Obviously, the former is correct, but the mumbly hick warble we southerners often endure made it hard to understand.
Turns out, as the reporter proved in the line I quoted above, I might have been hearing them right; perhaps they were saying, “just assume” all along. In my opening example, it was used by a person educated beyond high school, and managed to sail past the proofreader, also presumably a learned person.
Yet, there it is. Plain as day, in print: “had just assume forget.” The only correct way I can imagine this is, “would just as soon forget.” Arguably, because the contraction “I’d” can be interpreted as either “I would,” or “I had,” a child learning the language can become confused. Still, despite this confusion, a professional crafter of sentences should have caught this one (or is that should of?).
Speaking of “should of,” I’ve covered similar subject matter in a satirical post that had some scratching their heads, some chuckling.
Out of curiosity, I searched Google for “had just assume forget” and got three hits, all linking to the article I quoted here. When I searched for “just as soon forget,” I got 22,800 hits. I’m not trying to brag, but had that reporter worked for NWAT competitor The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas (as I did years ago) the search results would have numbered zero, because the phrase never would have seen daylight.
In a less surprising turn, the same article offered another blooper. The Razorbacks’ coach, Houston Nutt, was quoted as saying, “What a fierce competitor, unbelievable fighter, warrior — all the adjectives you want.”
Even in today’s world of using nouns as other forms of speech, “competitor,” “fighter,” and “warrior” are not adjectives.
English abuse is not limited to my home state, and somehow I find warped comfort in that.
I cringe internally every time I hear an otherwise highly intelligent, professionally successful co-worker use word combinations like, “I have went.” Oddly, I rarely ever heard that growing up in a predominantly rural southern state. For good measure, sometimes they threw in a “he don’t” or “she don’t,” which I definitely heard a lot of in Arkansas.
My brother and I are products of Arkansas schools, all the way through college, as is our dad. Mom completed all her school, including college, in Kansas, and taught elementary school for a few years. I can’t remember who corrected our speech more growing up, but reasonable deduction points to my mother. None of us speaks perfectly all the time, by any means. Other things in life are far too important to get bogged down in such details. That said, we all know how to adjust when appropriate.
As I suspect is true in most states, Arkansas has smart people who sound dumb and dumb people who sound smart. The latter can be much more dangerous than any other combination of these traits. Are there dumb people who sound dumb. Oh, yes, but I “had just assume forget” that.