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Friday, 21 May 2010 14:06
I am not a true synesthete. Synesthesia is a neurological condition that creates sensory overload in some fashion. Its victims have an involuntary reaction to certain stimuli, such as color.
I don't think science recognizes my own peculiar offshoot: I react to grammatical errors the way I do to nails scraping on a blackboard. I wince when I see signs in store windows that announce "Its official!" or "We have it's sequel!" Never mind the dependence on exclamation points; what makes my skin crawl is the missing, or wrongly used, apostrophe.
I have a similar, but less intense, reaction to writers who don't understand the concept of the collective noun. What's so hard to fathom? People in a group are "they;" the group itself is an "it." So: "The members are planning a bake sale," but "The group is planning a bake sale." It is a question of intent: are you talking about the individual members or the group as a whole?
On the radio today, the newscaster said, "Will the government of Sri Lanka change their policies?" And, predictably, I yelled at the radio, "its policies, its policies!!"
Perhaps somewhere there's a scientist interested in synesthesia looking for a research project. Since I don't expect people's grammar to improve anytime soon, which would eliminate my symptoms, I'd be right in line to volunteer as a test subject.