I am not a grammar Nazi by any stretch of the sentence. Anyone who’s read my blog a few times will agree with that. But, But every once in a while something comes along that rustles my leaves into a bonfire. I can even get like totally exasperated over it if I let myself. What particularly gets me upset is when no one else seems to give the slightest damn about it…like I’m all alone out here and I can’t help but get a little paranoid thinking there’s something wrong with me since no one else seems to have noticed anything.
The last time this happened was maybe 20-30 years ago when all of a sudden when it was announced that when a person had disappeared everyone began saying that he or she went missing. I had never before heard the term “went missing.” Either a person was reported missing, he was missing or he disappeared or he wound up missing….but never before had I heard the term went missing. All of a sudden that was, and still is, the ONLY way that describes someone who is missing…meanwhile, I was the only one in the United States of America who asked from where or from whom did this new terminology take hold. Usually a person went somewhere, a place, a known place. “Where’d you go?” “Oh, I went to the store,” or “I went to Cincinnatti,” or “I went to the bathroom.” Did you ever hear “Hey, where’d you go?” “Oh, I went missing? But it’s okay now, I’m back from missing. I went only for a short visit.” To this day I cannot bring myself to say someone “went” missing. Nope, not me. Don’t go there.
At first I thought it may be a regional thing. There’s a lot of that in the Pennsylvania/New Jersey/New York corridor. People who live in that area go to the shore…In Florida, where I live, we go to the beach. In the northeast a stuffed Italian sandwich takes on various names—it could be a hoagie, a hero, a grinder or a sub. I’m sure you could stack a pile of meandering names used to describe the same things too, but I’ve stalled enough.
What is this latest grammar oddity that has my skin crawling every time I hear it…and I have been hearing it almost hourly all this past week ever since it was announced that various members of the President’s family/White House staff attended a meeting with some Russians. Note I said “attended” a meeting…because that’s what you do when you go to a meeting. It’s the same thing if you were at a meeting or you were present at a meeting . I have attended many meetings in my lifetime. I bet you have too. In fact we’ve all gone to a meeting from time to time. Sometimes if we were the host of the meeting it could be said that we held a meeting.
But now, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it’s unanimous: we are no longer present at a meeting, nor do we attend, or go to a meeting. Now, like it or not, all of us take a meeting. That’s right, going to or attending a meeting has been replaced by the term “taking a meeting.” This is something I have never heard before this past week…never. Am I the only one? I don’t get it.
If you take a meeting don’t you have to do something with it. If I take a piece of chocolate I then put it in my mouth. If I take something off the shelf, I’ll usually do something with it…but what do I when I take a meeting. “Hey, did you take that meeting on the new company policy?” “Yeah I took it and I’m not giving it back.” “Oh, I thought maybe you took it to Cincinnati.”
So okay, maybe this is much to do about nothing. I just find it curious how it’s me who seems to have never heard of these kinds of changes in our language. Whack! They come upon me suddenly. And mind you, I am a great believer in the concept that language is fluid and it can change and go in any direction it’s speakers want it to. What is important is that whatever words are used, they must effectively communicate the same context to everyone. Gee, I wish we could all take a meeting to discuss this. But I don’t know where to take the meeting. I think maybe…it went missing.