I live on the west coast of Earth’s North America and “been” is pronounced in a way that rhymes with “when”. I’ve always pronounced it in a way that rhymes with “bean”. No, I guess it doesn’t just rhyme, it’s phonetically identical. Huh. Anyways, I did it unconsciously even though my whole family (I’ve since checked) uses the “when”-rhyming spelling.
A co-worker both called my attention to it one day AND offered a completely reasonable explanation when I couldn’t think of why. My given first name is ‘Ben’ (phonetically identical to how most people around me pronounce ‘been’) and the co-worker speculated that perhaps I was unconsciously differentiating between the word any my name by grabbing onto the spelling and e-nun-cia-ting the fuck out of it.
I think… I think that’s right. I had no idea until someone pointed that out.
It was amazing. Suddenly, we were able to both sleep through the night AND have a door guarding against hallway monsters because everyone knows hallway monsters are too big to fit through cat doors. Later, when we had children, the closed door also protected against children that wanted to come and sleep with us JUST BECAUSE and that just would not do, yet our cats could still come and go like little karma chameleons without disturbing us.
When you own your house (or if you’re just very, very casual about the concept of ‘damage deposits’ on rentals) you can do this. It is a good thing.
For a few years, my spellcheckers have flagged ‘damnit’ as incorrect. Chrome just did it now as I typed this, in fact, because apparently the blessed spelling is ‘dammit’.
“Dammit”? What kind of broken down, toothless word is this? When I say this, I’m commanding “Damn it”. I am summoning the powers of whatever gods are listening to bring their damnation onto the thing or situation I’m thinking of, so DAMNIT makes sense. ‘Dammit’ sounds like I’m gumming out a word only because I’m trying to work up enough saliva to reach a spittoon withnasty chewing tobacco juice. It’s not a focused word and it’s missing all the good emphasis it needs.
To be clear, I am not saying that I wish to “dam” it. This is not a water-control issue. If I’m cursing this way at something, I am not requesting that a river be controlled to ensure proper irrigation during the off-season or something like that.
Coming from a different angle, whenever I express any opinion about how things in language change there’s always THAT PERSON who comes back with the response that ‘language is constantly evolving’. They argue that by its nature, words change over time and it’s unreasonable to fight this. This is usually in response to an objection over ‘figuratively’ being now considered a legitimate synonym for ‘literally’. I don’t like the change in ‘literally’, but if we’re going to just let that in then I want to make this open door policy work FOR me.
How? I want DAMNIT to be a completely acceptable spelling of ‘dammit’. For years, using the “wrong” letter there been one of my dumb little protests against life though I doubt anyone here has ever noticed it. Any time I’ve accidentally used ‘dammit’ or let autocorrect have its way I’ve felt dirty, but NO MORE. There’s a line going into the sand here.
Join me, friends whom I keep close and the enemies I keep closer (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE), join me in driving the orthography boat up the right figurative river. Switch one of those ‘m’s out with an honest ‘n’. Don’t be spooked by Daniel Webster’s scowling ghost, this is something we can fix if we work together.