Blame the Good Sisters.

Let me preface my remarks about how they ruined the English language by saying I love nuns. Especially the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus who taught me in grammar school. Smart, smiling, interested in you, dedicated. Every World Series, they lugged in TVs from God-knows-where and we watched every inning. That was when the game was played under the sun, the way God wants it. The nuns knew how to swing a bat … in the case of the classroom, a yard-stick that would crush the knuckles of us, the many, the happy class clowns (most everybody because most everybody was Irish). Contrary to disinformation spread by a few bitter old men, we weren’t traumatized by the Sisters’ corporal calls to order. It was the cost of doing business, the entertainment business. Anyways, those smacks didn’t smart half as much as dear old dad’s belt bashing one’s buttocks.  Those were the days!

Now, to the point. Why do the likes of The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal write things like: The deal was closed between he and they?

Jamie Trickett would say: No, Sistah, we weren’t fighting–me and him are cousins.  Sister Mary Francis would say: He and I are cousins. Repeat after me: He and I are cousins. He and I are cousins. He and I are cousins. He and I are cousins.

Richie Meelia would say: Motha, Danny and me went to Russo’s and got this candy because my motha’s sick and I didn’t have any lunch. Mother Mary Cabrini would say: Danny and I went to Russo’s. Richie would say: Did you get some Flavah-Pops, Mothah? Step, step, step and WHACK! Repeat after me: Danny and I went to Russo’s. Danny and I went to Russo’s. And you, Mr. Meelia, write it on the blackboard until your arm falls off. Richie thought it was worth it and all the boys just knew she thought it was funny.

All across the country, nuns drilled the troops: He and I, he and I, you and I, we and they were tied in the ninth, she and you should stop fighting, we and she, we and you, you and they, they and I, she and I, your sister and we!! I and they!!! The nominative case was burned into the very synapses of our hypothalamus. Goodbye, accusative or objective case. Hello, Washington Post: … [it] was between he and she. Hello, New York Times: …  the facts contradict he and they alike. Hello, bloggers … you’re unspeakable!

Half the nuns were French Canadian and half were Irish, so they all must have hated the English. They struck back at the oppressors by undermining their language through a secret, subtle, clever strategy. A lousy writer is only a pawn in the Good Sisters’ game. Don’t blame anybody but they.

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