WHEN IT SOUNDS SO RIGHT
by David Sisler
It was wrong when I wrote it, and it wasn't caught. Shame on us. And right above James J. Kilpatrick. Ignominious blunder!
Last week the opening paragraph of my column (as it appeared in print) said: "There is nothing more precious than a child. I know first hand, because God blessed Bonnie and I with four of them."
When the first phone call came in Saturday morning, I cringed! Good googilee moogilee! That sentence should not have said, "Bonnie and I." It is so easy to say that (and it is the way I wrote it). The correct way sounds so wrong, but it should have said, "Bonnie and me." The way to have caught it, of course, would have been to have left Bonnie out of it (hard to do when she is the mother of the children) and read it out loud — "God blessed I?" Dr. Leonard McCoy's shuttle pilot in Star Trek III talks that way. Jedi Master Yoda talks that way. But it ain't proper English!
So to the writer of that improperly turned phrase, and to the readers who failed to catch it before it went into print, a hearty wack across the knuckles with an elementary school grammar book.
We say a great many things which sound correct, but are not, or things we want to be correct, in spite of the fact that we know otherwise.
One example comes from Rebecca Hale, the director of public information for the Seattle Mariners.
Last week the Mariners moved into a new $517.6 million ballpark. It is major league baseball's most expensive stadium, the major feature being a roof that can be opened or closed, depending on the weather. The 11,000-ton roof is made up of panels which are computer programmed to overlap as needed.
On Friday, July 16 the retractable roof on Safeco Field was closed because it was raining, but the Mariners and San Diego Padres complained the roof was not water-proof. Water dripped into right field and near second base on the dirt part of the infield. Officials said two of the three panels that make up the roof were not aligned correctly by a computer, and the field got wet in two places.
But, according to Ms. Hale, the roof does not leak.
"It's not a major thing," she said. "We're still adjusting. The second and third panels were not overlapped as they should have been. We had a little water coming in, but it wasn't a leak."
If a computer glitch allows water to get in through the roof, did the roof leak or not? It would have been difficult convincing fans on the first level of the three-tier of the stadium, near the Mariners' dugout, that the roof did not leak, because they were rained on, too.
Atlanta Falcon fans are becoming accustomed to professional football players who say one thing and mean another. Offensive right guard Gene Williams is under contract for one more year, but he wants to make more than the $1 million base salary he signed a contract accepting. Williams wants a long-term deal, but it doesn't appear that he will have one coming from the Falcons any time soon, so the word he gave means nothing, and he is a hold-out. Ditto running back Jamal Anderson. He gave his word that he would play for $2.6 million a year, but because of his All-Pro status, he wants more. And they are only two of many athletes who are trying hard to make lying our national past-time.
Members of my generation preached, "If it feels good, do it." Today's motto is, "If it sounds good, say it."
You know Eve, the lady who fell for the biggest "sounds good" of all time. Taking her morning constitutional she encountered the Father of Lies who said, "You won't die if you eat one piece of fruit. That's a lie! God knows that the instant you eat it you will become like him." Convinced that a lie was the truth, she and her husband ate it. That evening, with their embarrassment and their nakedness covered by leaves, they hid from God. With love and forgiveness, God dressed them in bloody animal skins and promised a better way.
A lie sounds like the truth and we believe it. The truth sounds too good to be true and we do not believe it. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." Why is it we do not like the way that sounds?
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 7/24/99
Copyright 1999 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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