Words Matter: The Way You Say it Counts A Lot, Too

by Penny G. Mattern on November 21, 2012

While Randy is on hiatus recovering from a writing-induced ailment, some friends are taking up the slack. Today’s post is by Penny Mattern. 

Some years ago, I wrote several poems in honor of Ogden Nash, one of my favorite poets.  While I’m no Ogden Nash, I do like the way he makes his points.  So, with my apologies to Mr. Nash, I ask:

Why Doesn’t Anyone Say Nowadays Anymore?

One day during a presidential election season in the early 1980′s, I was listening to a broadcast about what was happening in California on a radio station,

And the reporter, putting a clever new twist on an old saw, as he thought, said “Anymore, as goes California so goes the nation.”

That was the first time I ever heard the invidiously misused and vile locution,

The use of “anymore” when what was plainly meant was “nowadays,” not the same thing at all and certainly no solution.

The word “anymore,” as I have understood it and used it, whether shouting from a mountaintop or mumbling to myself about how cold the water is at the shore,

Is used in a negative sentence to convey the sense of something that happened in the past but happens no longer, as in “Whatever happened to good old Harriet? I never see her anymore.”

And it’s never used as the first word of a sentence.  That seems clear enough, doesn’t it?

But evidently for some people that wasn’t it.

“Nowadays” is a word that plainly indicates a current state of things often implying a contrast with earlier days, as in the phrases “in these days” or “in recent times,”

And in either a positive or a negative sentence, and especially when placed at the beginning, on the knowing ear like Big Ben at midnight it chimes.

For instance, “Nowadays, they’ve got a cure for that,” a sentence that strikes terror in the hearts of those envisioning a firing squad or lends hope to the invalid for a full recovery,

Or “Buggy whips aren’t used very often nowadays,” which today may represent a triumph for the observant statistician, or may have led buggy-whip makers long ago to a terrible despairing discovery.

If I want to put the word at the beginning of the sentence that pinpoints a present-day condition or trend,

All I have to do is start with “nowadays” and the whole thing falls together from beginning to end.

But no, all this tidyness and clear, meaningful speech couldn’t be allowed to stand;

The age of “anymore” commonly used instead of “nowadays” and especially at the beginning of sentences is at hand.

Nowadays, I wage a personal but hopeless battle (the more gallant because hopeless, perhaps),

And insist on saying “nowadays” whenever I can correctly do so, and the heck with the rest of you “anymore” chaps.

I like to keep the use of “nowadays” and “anymore” distinct and clean,

And show, in contrast with the impression given by many other people when they don’t, that I both know and say what I mean.

— Penny Mattern


The Words Matter: The Way You Say it Counts A Lot, Too by Penny G. Mattern, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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