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In my junior year of college, as a biology/premed major, I began a required course called “quantitative chemistry”. On the third day of classes, the professor put an equation on the board (there were chalkboards during the Hoover administration) that had more layers than a Big Mac. I knew that I would die if I remained in that class, so I switched my major to English.

I enjoyed reading and writing, but I was forced to learn about things like sentence structure. The only “C” I ever got in my life was in grammar, which may have had something to do with that class occurring during a rather foggy period after I had received acceptance to medical school. The professor, Madame Heatherington, made a special effort to call me in and tell me I really deserved an “F”. She suggested eye drops as well.

I did absorb enough grammar, however, after that bleary performance, to become a mild language snob.

For instance, the misuse of the apostrophe agitates me. On Yacht Forum, an online boating chat group I follow, it is a constant stream of “I saw three boat’s on the water” and “the sailboat has two sail’s on it’s mast.” “It’s” is a contraction of “it is”, and not a possessive pronoun.

I know I am boring you. I will get to the point.

The worst misuse of them all is the term “facelift.” “Our store is getting a facelift.” “Our website is getting a facelift.”

After a “facelift”, the store or website looks completely different. That is what bugs me.

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The whole point of a facelift is NOT to make you look completely different. The objective is to provide a clean, refreshed, subtle rejuvenation to the patient. I want their friends and family to think they have been on vacation, have a new squeeze, lost weight, or (my favorite) “seem to be in a good place.” Basically, anything but surgery (sentence fragment).

I don’t want people to be afraid of facelifts because they think they are going to look like some celebrity Joker freak. Being famous doesn’t mean you always get great care. Spend the money, come to Billings, and get it done right (grammatically correct but shamelessly self-serving).

Does it really matter if we are precise in our use of language? If I know what you mean, does it matter how you say it? It is an ancient intellectual argument. Some people believe that any version of the Bible other than the King James (thee, thou, begat) is apostasy.

For me, precision is an attitude. Some guy at a boat ramp got all over me one time for doing a poor job backing a trailer down. That was important to him.

So go ahead, do a facelift on your house, your car, anything non-human you wish.

Just do it well.

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