Saturday, July 04, 2009

Ranting Again

Not long ago, I got all ranty about commonly misused words and phrases, and it felt good. So I've found another target.

A bunch of people form a group with a common goal. Do they:

a. Ban together,
b. Band together?

The answer is b. This is pretty straightforward. They're like a "band" of brothers, or if you prefer graphic imagery, they are held together cohesively, as though with a rubber band.


The problem starts when the past tense rears its ugly head. Then people get all confused and start saying "We banned together to get a stop sign put up on the corner."

Um, no....

You banded together.

I think the mix-up comes from two possible sources.

First, remember when you were a little kid and you excitedly told your mother what you heard from some other little kid, about an accident at the pool? C'mon, you remember the conversation. You told Mom "Some kid drownded at the pool."

Everybody says "drownded" the first time. And everybody gets corrected - the present tense is drown, and the past tense is drowned. So deep in our subconscious, we retain the "lesson" that one never uses a word that ends in "nded." Unless it's the word ended, which still (oh, go on, admit it, you'll feel better) makes you slightly nervous.

Another unacknowledged factor that leads to the misuse of band and banded is the context. You and that bunch of people are getting together to -- what? Okay, maybe you want that stop sign put in. Maybe you're circulating a petition to end the war. But in at least fifty percent of the cases where people band together, they are working to ban something or cajole the government into having something banned.

"We banded together and the City Council banned smoking in the park."


Maybe we should forget about banding together and just gang up on the local politicos.

Probably get faster results that way...


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I get more joy that I probably should out of common grammatical errors, but evidently I am not alone in this. That was fun, thanks!

Volly said...

More to come. It's inevitable...

Anonymous said...

Right. Forget about "band together." It makes me think of Band-Aids anyway.

PersonalFailure said...

here's a suggestion (or two):

one takes a new tack, but hands out religious tracts, and tact is probably for other people.

i actually saw all three of those misused in the same sentence.

Volly said...

I think Barbara, Lorena, PF and I should band together to home in on these problems!

And to hell with tact...