Sample Linguistics Essays on Word Crimes

Word Crimes

Part A: Weird Al Video


Weird Al Yankovic, in his song, “Word Crimes,” highlights several grammar mistakes that each of us, if not all of us, commit every day in our writing and conversations. For instance, Yankovic demonstrates how people misuse the confusing the words ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ in their writing at 1:28 in the song word crimes. ‘It’ and ‘it’s’ are two different words with different meanings. It’s is a contraction or an abbreviation of “it is” or “it has.” The words can be used as follows, “it’s been a busy and fruitful day as I was able to submit my final academic year project.” In this sentence, ‘it’s’ has been used to mean, “It has.” In “it’s a shiny day, good for the beach,’ ‘it’s’ has been used to denote “it is.” On the other hand, ‘its’ is a possessive form of the pronoun “it” and can be used as follows, “the cat ate its food” and “these are its footprints” as shown in oxford dictionaries.

Similarly, Yankovic states that several people confuse the words ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ like in minute 2:36. These are two different words with different meanings.  The oxford dictionaries show that ‘Your’ is in possessive form which indicates belongingness; for instance, ‘your school,’ ‘your friend,’ and ‘your assignment.’ Conversely, ‘you’re’ is a contraction for ‘you are’ and it can be used in a sentence as follows; ‘you’re beautiful,’ ‘you’re funny,’ and ‘you’re welcome to my place.’

The other grammatical mistake that we often come across daily is on certain homophones. Homophones are two or more words that have the same pronunciation but have different meanings and spelling. Examples of homophones commonly confused are lightening and lightning as illustrated in minute 2:27 of “Weird Al” Yankovic Word Crime song. According to Merriam Webster, lightening is making light or clear whereas lightning refers to the flashing of light produced by a discharge of atmospheric electricity.

Part B

In order to find out the correct or proper use of some words used in the word crime song, the oxford dictionaries helped find out the proper use of those words. The resource is prescriptive, especially when considering the use of’ it’s. For one to be able to use ‘it’s’ correctly, it is necessary to first understand that it is a contraction of ‘it is.’

Part C: Stephen Fry Video


Stephen Fry is sad in the video as he highlights how people seem not to love their language. Fry demonstrates that for individuals in this generation, language is just a tool of communication provided the third party understands what they say regardless of the mistakes they will make. People seem to discredit individuals who try to speak in fluently. Moreover, proper communication using one’s language is practiced in the wrong platforms since they write it to broadcasters with lots of pride of how good they are in use of the language.