Slippery slope (A grammar rant)

You know what annoys me?

Well, okay, plenty of things. The sun is too sunny, mosquitoes bite, I have no cookies in the house and yet can’t bring myself to make any because then I’ll eat them all; but no, something else.

The plural of euro, that’s what.

I know, I just lost most of you. Never mind. Come back tomorow, I’ll talk about kids or something.

The euro is the currency of many countries of Europe, and has been for several years now. It was introduced in Ireland only a few months before I left the country, which is why I still have to hunt and peck in my purse to find the right coins whenever we’re back there. At the time I was fully and gainfully employed as an editor – in a whole department of editors, no less – so the issue of how to properly refer to the new currency was discussed in a professional capacity, as it were.

We looked into it. It was discovered and agreed upon that the official word was that the plural of euro (in English) was to be “euros.” Sensible and obvious, since to make a plural in English we pretty much always do just add an s, especially when the singular ends in a vowel.* 

So why is it that, since that time, the entire country of Ireland decided, en masse and seemingly of its own volition, with no editiorial consultation, that if you had ten of these new units of currency, you would not have ten euros? No, no, of course you wouldn’t. You would have ten euro.**

I’ve tried to be good. Lord knows, I’ve done my damndest to hold the line, even from this distance. I talk about euros whenever I can, even in Ireland. All it has done is to make me sound like one of those crazies who insists on saying “fort” instead of “fortay” because it’s a French word, not an Italian one. (This may be another argument for another day.)

Apparently, much as has recently – heinously – happened with the definition of literally – about which I am figuratively hopping mad – common usage has triumphed and what was wrong has become acknowledged as right just because it’s what most people do.

I hate that. Talk about a slippery slope. One minute it’s euros, the next minute people will be advertising banana’s and apple’s and how its over their in the lady’s department and nobody will know where they stand and they’ll have to abolish the apostrophe all together, as well as common decency and saying thank you and not farting audibly in public.

*Collins still says this:
euro. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved August 20, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/euro

** Dictionary.com is a flipping flip-flopper that refuses to have an opinion, so it says that the plural is either euro or euros.

18 thoughts on “Slippery slope (A grammar rant)

  1. Office Mum

    I heard a snippet on the radio today about literally but not the whole thing – is it that people can now say “I was literally dying with embarrassment” even if they are not in fact literally dying with embarrassment? Oh dear

    Reply
    1. Office Mum

      That’s just ridiculous. And it’s not like it will change anything – it just means that the people who have been mis-using it all this time will have some legitimacy but the rest of us will still know it’s just not right.
      On another note, I made a grammatical error in a facebook post last night and couldn’t edit so have been worrying in case Maud sees it…

      Reply
  2. KTA

    I spent a semester at UCD in 2003, just as the “euro” thing was really taking off. The really interesting thing about “euro” is that other English-speaking countries don’t seem to have adopted it. I have accepted it as an Irish-ism, and I like to say it when I have reason to talk about euros just to throw people off a bit.

    Reply
    1. KTA

      What a weird coincidence! I loved it there. It was a really eye-opening time for me and a life-changing experience all around. I met one of my best friends at UCD and took some amazing classes that helped to put me on the path to where I am now professionally. That was an interesting time to be in Dublin, too, and the city made an impact on me too. I loved talking with everyone, and I felt a definite connection to the Irish culture of wordplay and witty remarks and retorts. It was like the dinner table at my grandmother’s house writ large (all four of my great-grandparents on my mom’s side were from Ireland, mostly from the same small part of Clare, oddly enough).

      Reply
    2. Maud

      I’m glad you had a good time. (At least, I hope you did and “eye-opening” and “life-changing” weren’t all in a bad way.)

      Reply
    1. Maud

      It’s actually an abbreviation for “Eurocurrency”, which (clearly) doesn’t sound Greek at all. Anyway, I’m pretty sure the expectation was that each country would pluralize it as they did words in their own language. Which might be tricky for some but is pretty nicely simple for English.

      Reply
  3. viviane

    There was something about “literally” in an episode of How I met your mother I watched recently. One thing I hate in France, is that most people pronounce euro like it begins with a “h”, like “cent heuros” instead of “centeuros”, I don’t know if you see what I mean.

    Reply
    1. Maud

      Not exactly, I confess. The h is always silent, right? So is it a case of how long you pause (or don’t) between one word and the next?

      But they do at least put an s on it in France, then? Good to know.

      Reply
  4. Aimee @ Smiling Mama

    Well, I’m sorry to further ruin your day, but I must share this post. Much of it was like nails on a chalkboard for me. And, also, can we talk about the fact that “me” has been dropped from the American English language? So many people use “I” every time they refer to themselves (e.g. He gave the present to my husband and I.) and it drives me insane!

    http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2013/08/19/language-mindset-list-for-the-class-of-2017/

    Reply
    1. Maud

      Oh wow, Aimee, that presses a lot of buttons! It’s interesting that referring to corporations or musical groups as “they” instead of “it” is totally a British English thing – it’s not wrong over there. I wonder how it migrated, though? (Or maybe using Coldplay as an example is no coincidence.)

      The anniversary one is a particular bugbear of my husband’s, and “cliche” annoys me immensely.

      And you’ll note that while “me” has fallen out of favor, “myself” is used at every possible turn. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Joanna

    OK, I have two things to say here and am working on an old banger of a crappy computer (literally!!!!!!!!) so hope this makes it: 1. I believe when the € was introduced the plural was to be Euro all over Europe so that it would not need to be pluralised in various languages, the use of Euros came later. 2. I think you’ve got the whole “fortay” thing wrong (aaaaaaaagggghhh, don’t kill me!!!!): I believe that in English ‘fortay’ is the correct pronunciation of forte when it means that you are good at something. I am 100% certain that if you look up an English dictionary you will see that I am correct if you examine the phonetic pronunciation. I think this would also be the same for French because I have a memory of discussing it with students. I think the only time it would be ‘fort’ (pron. ‘fore’) would be if it were used in a French language sentence that contained a masculine possessive pronoun in which case it would not have the ‘e’ at the end, e.g. ‘ton fort’.

    Reply
    1. Maud

      I need to get someone who worked in my dept to back me up, obviously; but this is how I remember it happening back in the day.

      What I meant about the French pronounciation was that it would be pronounced “fort” with the T sound because it is spelled “forte” (fem.). The E would make the T sounded in French. If the word was “fort” (masc.) in French, it would indeed be pronounced “fore”.

      Of course I don’t look up dictionaries before I start rants – that would just blow my whole argument out of the water before I’d begun. But my Concise Oxford Dictionary says that meaning 1, for one’s strong point, can be pronounced “fortay” or “fort”. Meaning 2, for loud in music, is definitely Italian and therefore always “fortay”. The pronounciation note in Dictionary.com says that either is now standard, but the older and historical pronounciation of meaning 1 is “fort”.

      Reply

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