Mostly Educational by Tom Deighan
Has Spring Sprang or Sprung?
March 19, 2021
Fall is refreshing, especially after a long, hot summer, and winter is somewhat soothing. Spring, however, is just plain exciting. As an Okie, I generally look forward to Valentine’s Day as the unofficial start of spring, so this February broke my heart just a little. Spring break, however, rarely disappoints. Overnight, dandelions sprout beautiful patchwork quilts in yards everywhere. Squirrels get frisky, much to the annoyance of my chihuahua, and cardinals add their signature splash of color. As the old saying goes, Spring has sprung!
Frankly, I am not sure if it has sprang or has sprung, which highlights a serious problem threatening the very bedrock of American civilization: the erosion of proper grammar. As we argue over daylight savings time and other trivial matters, our moral decay can scarcely be tracked more faithfully than with the erosion of the perfect tenses. Consequently, I fear my grandchildren will never have swum, not due to their overdeveloped texting thumbs, but rather their underdeveloped appreciation for grammar. From what poisonous well have we drunk? Dear children, frozen is much more than a movie, it is a perfect verb!
As a recovering English teacher, I have watched the language change, but honestly, I am not too sad to see certain words fall into disuse. Hopefully, bring-brang-brung is fairly obvious, but anyone using the verb swum in a sentence correctly nowadays can also expect a sideways glance. I seen troubles me, too, but I am decidedly bilingual. I speak English and Okie fluently, and although I have occasionally clumb on my high-horse to correct someone’s grammar, I have also been whipped a few times. (Mark Twain actually used clumb in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but that don’t make it right.) We just gotta accept that times and language change, however much joy words have previously brung us.
I could apply (sic) to this entire article, but someone else would invariably correct my corrections. Besides, I wouldn’t even know where to start. Grammar constantly evolves and changes, as does the meaning of words, but rest assured that someone will soon be mocking millennials for using old-fashioned terms like salty. Or, just as likely, they will be appropriating old words in new and innovative ways to describe their displeasure at someone else’s misuse of a word.
Words change, but human nature does not. Every generation triumphantly redefines itself, only to be cancelled by the next generation. They use words ironically, oblivious to the irony of misusing the word ironic as they roll their eyes. Irregardless, we have all literally been there at one time. Who could have ever dreampt of a time when the meanings of words would have such importance, or when punctuation so little! In retrospect, I should have started this article with a trigger warning for English teachers. This article is not a safe place for grammarians.
Relax, older generations always look upon younger generations and shake their heads, and younger generations always accuse their elders of being outdated. I recently read an article on the interweb decrying today’s youth for their overreliance on technology, their slovenly dress, and their disregard for convention. A baby-boomer wrote it in the late 1990’s about Generation X. Generation Z is now lambasting Millennials for their shortsightedness, and Millennials are shaking their heads at Generation Z, so welcome to the club! We have all been there and did that.
Spring may have sprung or sprang, who knows? Nevertheless, one person’s flower is someone else’s dandelion just as one person’s grammatical sin is another’s clever turn-of-phrase. Whatever may come, enjoy the season as our newest generation of elders suffers the ire of them young ‘uns. Miscreant weeds and human nature both consistently arrive seasonally, as do children joyfully blowing the fluffy tops off dandelions, much to the chagrin of future groundskeepers. What a beautiful season we have sprung!