is in full swing, the lakes and rivers are covered by people swimming,
riding skiis and tubes and boards towed behind boats and the summer
heat has only recently arrived.
however, many of us are thinking of the opening of the dove and
teal seasons in September. That's why I took three 9-month-old Labrador
retriever puppies to the White River southeast of Fayetteville to
teach them to swim this week.
right. Labs must learn to swim. Admittedly, Aubunique Egg's Storm,
Aubunique Hot Chocolate Egg and Aubunique Egg's Sadie Hawk learned
in only a few minutes. But the job has to be done properly.
father, Bounty Grant's Aubunique, had shown them it was fun by soaking
in a big tub in the back yard the day before. Then I waded into
the river and tempted them to come in to chase a ball. Within minutes,
they were competing to fetch the 12-inch softball from the current.
They had been carrying softballs on land since they were only 4
months old, but the balls roll unpredictably in the water and watching
the pups pursue them was entertaining.
being a bit past his prime, has gotten so he allows them to fetch
in the yard without trying to race for the ball. And, from his reaction
to ice water the past two duck seasons, I am convinced he'll gladly
let them take over the duck-retrieving duty this fall.
phrase "duck-retrieving duty" brings up another line of
thought that was brought home to me in recent days as I got to watch
a few baseball games on television and to read a few publications
I usually miss.
unnecessary pluralization of English nouns and adjectives is common
among some of the announcers and even some of the writers in the
sports-writing and broadcasting world.
of course, don't tell us whether a change in the language is correct.
They simply note that a particular deviation from established usage
has occurred frequently enough to be intentional rather than inadvertent.
wide reading can teach a person that needless pluralization violates
the English tradition of using only singular nouns as adjectives
when there is no established adjectival form and when the use of
the longer possessive form seems for some reason inappropriate.
of course, discourage any use of nouns as adjectives and insist
on the use of adjectival forms rather than nouns whenever possible.
Sports teams (Was it once sport teams? Check out old newspapers,
magazines, books and early movies featuring sports before you answer)
may have accounted for some of the confusion about the form that
nouns used as adjectives ought to take. Most Arkansas residents
are likely to speak of Razorback sports, although University of
Arkansas athletic teams are called the Arkansas Razorbacks. About
two years before the Arkansas Gazette ceased to publish ('99'),
a young sports editor (shortened form of editor of the sport(s)
or sporting section?) who had moved to the Gazette from an out-of-state
paper issued an edict that it would forever after be Razorbacks
player, Razorbacks record and Razorbacks Stadium (He had never seen
the sign on the stadium).
a long-time resident of the state explained to the young man that
not only was using a plural noun as an adjective bad grammar but
also in this case offended the ears of Razorback fans, few of whom
likely would want to be known as a Razorbacks fan.
really old-fashioned readers would demand that the phrase be the
Razorbacks' fans or, even better, fans of the Razorbacks. But, given
the changes that already had occurred in traditional style and usage
at the Gazette, just making it Razorback fans again was enough
to slow change in one of the more important phrases in the popular
vocabulary of Arkansas residents. A similar inconsistency may be
noted in television talk about the Chicago Cubs. The late Harry
Caray, a long-time WGN-Chicago television announcer, was heard saying
Cub fans, while many other sportscasters referred to Cubs fans.
outdoor writers and editors of outdoor pages continue to use the
adjectival form outdoor when describing material that originates
some who have never referred to a dictionary for guidance allow
themselves incorrectly to be called outdoors writers or editors.
The difference may be minor, but it is significant to people who
remember when adjectives weren't plural and when relatively few
nouns were routinely used as adjectives.
know the pluralization of nouns used as adjectives is really out
of hand when people start talking about squirrels season or ducks
season or deers season. Already, some writers and broadcasters refer
to catching crappies. Most people know that crappie and deer both
serve as plural as well as singular forms. But only old-timers recall
hearing the really old-timers mention killing '0 duck and '0 squirrel.
Such quaintness won't return. But, in order to make what we write
today understandable in the future, we must resist needless change.
Otherwise, the common speech and writing of today will be quaint
and hard to understand for people in a few decades.
words to our language is inevitable. Accepting errors that allow
the basic structure of the language to change is destructive.