I used to work with Gail, who who could argue to the death about the placement of a comma. She knew all the rules, and all the terms for all the parts of the English language. She could wax eloquent (and endlessly) about insubordinate modifying clauses and coordinating conjunctions.
One time Gail insisted that “more common” was grammatically incorrect and that “commoner” must be used instead. (eg: “Disability is commoner among older people.”) The editor finally conceded that Gail was technically correct but that there was no way in hell that sentence could be published because it sounded so wrong.
While Gail was a language geek with an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules, I tend to be more intuitive about language. I judge a sentence by how it looks and sounds. I can’t explain why a mistake is a mistake; it’s just something I feel in my gut.
Maybe I acquired my intuitive sense of the language from my mom, who was an English teacher with a low tolerance for grammatical or spelling errors.
I was about thirteen when she decided all my clothes would come from the brown family, and all my sister’s clothes would come from the blue family. This, she said, would make it easier to put together outfits, because everything would match.
She also decreed that every Sunday night my sister and I would complete Outfit Charts for the coming week. These charts would list exactly what we would wear each day. For example: Monday: brown corduroy pants, white and brown striped blouse, tan jacket, beige socks.
There were so many possible misspellings of the word beige (baje, biege, beyge, baige, bayje, for starters) and I kept getting it wrong on my weekly Outfit Charts. After several weeks and multiple warnings, she grounded me for two weeks.
You’ll notice I don’t spell beige incorrectly anymore. (Perhaps coincidentally, I don’t wear brown or plan my outfits ahead of time anymore either.)
Anyway. All of this prelude brings me to the fact that GC and I are having our first argument, and it could be a dealbreaker. We need your help.
We’re at odds over the use of the words ‘fast’ and ‘quickly.’ Neither one of us can explain why we think we’re right, so we’re hoping some of you might offer an opinion* and an explanation. If you’re reading this in a feedreader or email, I think you’ll need to click over to my blog to vote in the poll.
*XUP? Do you have an opinion on this?