I just met some new-to-me people in a new-to-me organization. I was invited to join WEN for breakfast and it was an enjoyable experience. You know what the little girl said: A stranger is a friend I haven't met yet." (I actually doubt a little girl said that; it's far too profound.) WEN is the acronym for the Writers and Editors Network. I didn't see it written so I don't know if there is an apostrophe on W and E. Someone will tell me. They're all compulsive, like me, not to say anal retentive, about correct grammar. Also very careful. I threw some of my pet peeves at my table companions and they were very slow to answer. (I neglected to hand them a blue pencil.) Here are my questions, already familiar to some bloggers: lie versus lay? may or might? would and should? career/careen?
I find myself incapable of seeing, reading, hearing anything without automatically editing/correcting it, even songs. You know the love song from Camelot, by Lerner and Loewe: "If ever I would leave you". I can't hear it without wincing. "If ever I SHOULD leave you" is, of course, the correct form of the conditional verb. Well, we have to forgive Lerner. Apparently he took a long time slaving over his lyrics., and that's not the only mistake he ever made. I quote something from his biography (on Google);
In a 1979 interview on NPR's All Things Considered, Lerner went into some depth about his lyrics for My Fair Lady. Professor Henry Higgins sings, "Look at her, a prisoner of the gutters / Condemned by every syllable she utters / By right she should be taken out and hung / For the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue." Lerner said he knew the lyric used incorrect grammar for the sake of a rhyme. He was later approached about it by another famous lyricist:
"I thought, oh well, maybe nobody will notice it, but not at all. Two nights after it opened, I ran into Noël Coward in a restaurant, and he walked over and he said, "Dear boy, it is hanged, not hung." I said, "Oh, Noel, I know it, I know it! You know, shut up!" So, and there's another, "Than to ever let a woman in my life." It should be, "as to ever let a woman in my life," but it just didn't sing well."
Me again: well, "to ever let" is splitting an infinitive. This is a whole new area of exploration. More anon.