Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Exegesis on "ed"

This is the one that pushed me over the edge.

Yesterday, I went to McDonald’s. This is something I do now and then as a reward for having done some especially hard work. I had been in the vineyard all day pruning the vines and picking off bad grapes one-by-one, getting ready for the harvest. So, on the way home, I stopped at McDonald’s to get a small burger, small fries, and a soda, a line-up that would be heavenly after a hot day in the field.

And then the trouble started.

I am particular about what is put on my hamburger. I want lettuce, tomato, and onion on it, but nothing else. Nothing else; especially not mayonnaise, mustard, or ketchup. So, on that day, I innocently ordered a burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion only, as I have done many times before. But this time, things progressed differently. The lovely young lady behind the counter asked if I wanted leaf lettuce or shred lettuce on my burger. I said that I’d have shredded lettuce, she punched it in, and it came up on the screen: shred lettuce. I saw it with my own two eyes: shred lettuce. I wasn’t just misunderstanding her; they were actually calling it “shred lettuce”.

So I now must address this issue, which has been tormenting me for years: the omission of “ed” in words that cry out for it to be there. I can no longer let it go. Which is one of my problems; I can’t let anything go. Really, I get concerned about such matters, because they are important to an inquisitive and disciplined mind. Yes, the proper use of “ed” is critical, because if we don’t pay attention to such details in matters of linguistics, before long we’ll all be talking baby talk.

By the way, I never talked baby talk to my babies. I conjugated verbs to them instead, but that’s another story.

Back to “shred lettuce”. Don’t the people running McDonald’s know that “shred lettuce” is what you do in order to get “shredded lettuce” to put on burgers? How can they not know this?

This is not the only time I’ve been haunted by a missing “ed”.

I actually saw a sign at a local produce stand that read, ”tree ripen peaches”. I am not making this up; it was right there on the sign. Don’t the fresh produce mongers know that “ripen” is the present tense of the verb “to ripen”; “ripened” is the past tense and is also used in the past perfect and future perfect tenses. “Ripen” means it’s occurring now; “ripened” means it has already happened. Voila! Peaches that have been left on the tree until they are fully ripened rather than being picked green are called “tree ripened”, because that’s what happened to them. I couldn’t sleep that night.

There are more. All of these are real life examples I have personally observed, much to my consternation.

When you drink cold tea with ice in it, you are consuming “iced tea”, not “ice tea”. Food that is put into cans is “canned food”. Staying with the food theme, potatoes that are mashed are ------ mashed potatoes! I have seen “mash potatoes” on a menu, and I had to bite my tongue in order to avoid making a scene. Don’t get me started on “bake potato”, because it won’t be pretty. How about “toss salad”, again, right there on a menu. What am I supposed to do, throw the salad around or something? No, it has already been “tossed” in the making, so it’s called “tossed salad”. How hard is this?

Thankfully, the cereal makers understand this issue and correctly label their boxes “shredded wheat” so I don’t have to start my day by foaming at the mouth on those mornings when I have this particular cereal for breakfast.

And if you do or make something the way it was done in days gone by, that item is “old fashioned”, as in: I am old fashioned about the proper use of the ed suffix.

Reliving all of these horrors has drained my psychic energy. I’m emotionally exhausted. But it has been worth it, because now I’m sure the world will understand this issue and it’s importance. Finally, everyone will diligently use, and pronounce in an exaggerated fashion, the “ed” that is so needed at the end of certain words.

Now, if I can just get people to understand that they don’t “graduate” high school or college, they “graduate FROM” a school, my work will be done.

4 comments:

  1. I apologize for being so way off topic, but speaking of "exegesis"--Is Saint Augustine's exegesis of the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Genesis correct? Do a search: First Scandal.

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