Monday, May 28, 2012

In-law troubles - especially when there are many in-laws!

If there's any reason that I should stop watching television, it's not because it's making me dumb or compromising the health of my eyes.  It's for the fact that I get really annoyed when I see grammar errors in show titles.  "Extreme Couponing" is a really offensive one because there is no such verb "to coupon". I know that the English language creates a lot of verbs out of nouns, apparently more so than most other languages, I've heard.  Still, I don't think I can ever accept "couponing" or any other form of "coupon" as a verb.

The one I noticed recently that also annoys me is called "Monster-in-laws".  It's a show about people's rude or frustrating in-laws.  The content of the show is probably inane, and I have no intention of watching an episode to find out, but the title itself if what I don't like because it's grammatically incorrect.  It reminded me that this is a fairly widespread grammatical error that people say a lot when referring to their in-laws.  When referring to specific in-laws, such as mother-in-law, the correct plural of it is actually mothers-in-law, not mother-in-laws.  I should say that I have 3 sisters-in-law, not that I have 3 sister-in-laws.  In this context, in-law serves more as an adjective, so it shouldn't be pluralised.  It's probably tricky because in English, our adjectives usually come before our nouns and not after, so we're usually not tempted to pluralise them.  The other confusing thing is that "in-laws" alone are pluralised this way because "in-law" is actually the noun and doesn't seem to function as the noun in the case of specific in-laws.  The only other example I could think of was "lady-in-waiting", those individuals that were kind of like a personal assistant to royal women in years past.  You would never hear the phrase "I have 2 lady-in-waitings", or at least I've never heard it.  People always seem to know that the plural of that would be "ladies-in-waiting", so I see it as being similar to the case with the in-laws.

You know, even if you don't like your in-laws, you can still show them the courtesy of referring to them in grammatically correct ways, if not for their sake, then at least for the sake of sticklers like me! ;o)

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