Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Language Rant 1

Every curmudgeon, even the Friendly Curmudgeon of this blog, needs a rant. And so I offer you the first in a series of Language Rants. From time to time, when I encounter a crime against the English language that is so glaring—or just so persistent—that muttering at the offending television, radio, or newspaper is not enough, I’ll post a brief commentary here.

Today's criminal is a phrase we have probably all heard many times before: Paula Cole, in "I Don't Want to Wait," singing "So open up your morning light/And say a little prayer for I." It pains me even to write it. Sure, Cole was going for the rhyme of "light" with "I". But when we all know it should be "say a little prayer for me," rhyme is the least of our concerns. (And really: who opens up a light? My parents used to say “open the light,” but they had the excuse of being non-native English speakers.) I ask you: couldn't Cole have revised the line to come up with something that would not be the grammatical equivalent of nails on a blackboard?

I invite suggestions. How would you rewrite the line to keep the gods of grammar happy?


  1. Okay, well, I'm no writer but I'd just use "me". I don't think the rhyme scheme is all that strong anyway, so let's just go for grammatically correct.

  2. How about this:

    Turn the light on! I can't see.
    Say a little prayer for me.

    Turns the song into a plea for spiritual mercy for the nearsighted!

  3. This is one of the few grammatical rules that my mother taught with unrelenting consistency (there is probably a grammatical error in this sentence!). Aside from the obvious rhyming needs, I think people use "I" instead of "me" because they believe it makes them appear more intelligent. My favorite annoying song "Just You and I" by Eddie Rabbit (sung with Crystal Gayle). I can't stand the song, but do enjoy an extra scream at the end when - in duet - they sing: "we made it, you and I." Grrrr...

  4. Yes, but Eddie Rabbit might have something there. "You and I made it." That works, yes?