Fun with Weird Al’s “Word Crimes”

The digital world — including linguists everywhere — is rockin’ to Weird Al Yankovic‘s  “Word Crimes,” a parody of the hit song “Blurred Lines.” He rants about those who don’t know when to use  “fewer” instead of “less” or to use the apostrophe in “it’s.”

It’s all in fun. Mostly. But those lyrics make clear people do judge us based on our language choices. Look at the last verse.

I hate these Word CrimesWeird Al's Mandatory Fun
Your prose is dopey
Think you should only
Write in emoji
Oh, you’re a lost cause
Go back to preschool
Get out of the gene pool
Try your best to not drool


If you know me, you also know I don’t promote the importance of most peeves about usage because they are not all equally damning in the eyes of workplace readers. (See Shibboleths and entering the professions and The purist attitude toward language, too.)

For the media’s response to the “Word Crimes” video, see Huffington Post, Billboard, or Rolling Stone. For a linguist’s perspective, check out Bridging the Unbridgeable or All Things Linguistic or Ben Zimmer at Language Log. Even Visual Thesaurus is in on the action. But I have to recommend Forrest Wickman’s piece at Slate as the best I’ve read so far.

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