We have only ourselves to blame

Los Angeles Times sports columnist T. J. Simers has an acerbic, totally irreverent style and skewers just about everybody on just about any issue imaginable. You can tell he's having fun doing this (he pokes fun at even his boss, like Jay Leno does), and part of his winning formula is his liberal use of irony and sarcasm. This irritates readers, often inviting condemnation. His ripostes, though, are equally caustic, if not on the mark, and this makes for an amusing, if not rollicking, read.Sometimes he goofs, though, like everybody else. In his May 30 column, for example, he was talking about Phil Jackson and Kobe when, answering a reader and apparently to make a point about grammar (which leads to good writing, etc., and much else besides), Simers added this paragraph: When it comes to Phil and I, several folks e-mailed to suggest it should be Phil and me, (reader) Trudy Sibley putting it this way, "It's almost a given that most professional athletes are grammatically challenged, but annoying that sportswriters have to follow suit: about Phil and I - object of preposition: me." I don't know about that; I just thought Phil and I sounded more better. Here, T.J.'s humor is intact, but his grasp of grammar, if he really meant to defend his use of 'Phil and I' after the preposition 'about', is suspect. I side with Trudy on this. Thank God we don't have to endure Bush's malapropisms any more, but the issue Trudy raised has assumed alarming proportions. If we agree that there is good grammar, and there is bad grammar, and that the dictates of the former should be upheld, while the latter should be shunned, then we have grounds for a rational discussion. Otherwise, you belong to that vast populace out there who have loosened their hold on any kind of standards-whether moral, legal, educational, and practically everything else (as in manners, respect, civility, yes, grammar, etc.). Just to be sure, I looked it up (the one about 'Phil and I' in the above context) in my old book of grammar and syntax. There it was: The following prepositions govern (or use) the accusative (case): to, with, between, about. My Webster's definition of 'accusative': "the case occurring in the direct object of a verb and after certain prepositions." Thus, when a movie star or TV anchorperson or even a legislator (who ought to know better and set correct standards-yes, beginning with lowly grammar) says, "for you and I," or "about you and I," or "between you and I," I, like Trudy, cringe. T.J. Simers may minimize Trudy's complaint about 'Phil and I', but he, like so many other misguided, standardless, lemming-like zombies who follow the path of least resistance and plunge over the cliff, is in this case the uncomprehending fool.

********** Published: June 19, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 9