Just recently in a translation facebook group we were talking about “informations”, that monstrosity we’re hearing all the more often. Well, on my Delta flight a month ago, the flight attendant -a native English speaker- said through the intercom: “For internet service look in your Sky magazine for informations on how to connect”. Is this going to be yet another case of widespread misuse leading to widespread acceptance? Like …/nucular/ instead of nuclear? Of course it’s not as painful for me to hear as my pet peeve –actually, calling it a pet peeve makes it sound cute. It’s not cute. It’s closer to a knife than to a pet. Not a knife sitting in my cutlery drawer but a knife being stabbed in my chest. So my “stab knife” is …aircrafts (surprise surprise). And spacecrafts. As if mounting an engine is an activity of arts and crafts.
On the same flight, a couple of rows behind me, a mother –native English speaker- was teaching new words to her little baby daughter. I could hear her say over and over again: “Where’s the keys?”, “Where’s the books?”, “Where’s the bus?” (she got one right, sigh of momentary relief), “Where’s the girls?” (back to stabbing). I felt the need to turn around and stop this, I wish it weren’t inappropriate to intervene in cases of linguistic abuse, or to put it less mildly, language butchering.
On a more recent trip, right after I landed in Boston, I received a phone call from a guy claiming that I was in legal trouble and that I needed to pay him two thousand dollars to settle the matter in a friendly way right then and there, over the phone, instead of going to court. You guessed it, he was a scammer, but a professional one! Very well prepared, he had answers to all my questions. “I’m calling from your local police department, ma’am”, he said. When I asked him which police department that was, he said Cambridge. (I don’t live in Cambridge; I used to, many years ago.) He kept saying to me in his Indian accent: “We got informations on you ma’am. We got informations. According to our informations on you, ma’am,…”.
I’d had enough. The grammar freak in me was getting palpitations, so I interrupted him and said: “First of all, it is information, not informations, there’s no s! Speak English damn it! And second, if you were really calling from the police department you would know that I don’t live in Cambridge!”
The guy went on: “Well, where do you live ma’am? We can transfer this to your local police department…”. I hang up. I probably should have referred him to some English-language trainings (ouch, I stabbed myself).