educationThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that teenagers must use “the” before the word “prom”

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Emperor’s Decree No.  2013: We don’t know when it happened, but, sometime over the last sixteen years, young people have completely dismissed the use of the definite article, “the,” before the word “prom.” The Emperor knows this, because he has been teaching high school throughout this period  (call it a diversion from the rigors of Imperial Domination) and, sometime during this stretch, a linguistic shortcut took hold. No longer does a boy ask a girl: “Do you want to go to the prom with me?” No, now, it is, “Do you want to go to prom with me?” “How are you getting to prom?” “Are you going to prom?” “Shall we chip in  for a limo for prom?” Gaaahhh!! This annoys the Emperor to no end.  He tried to change this appauling habit, at least on a local scale, through his pedagogical efforts – nay, heartfelt entreaties – in the classroom; he even addressed this on the school’s television system, once, but, to no avail. (In fact, this only made things worse, because, now, students intentionally seek him out and ask him if he is “chaperoning prom.” Little snits.) The Emperor didn’t want it to come to this, but, it’s time for a decree. Let all of America’s youth take note:

The Punishment: Young people who leave out the definite article in discussing THE prom (and are heard by the Imperial Maintenance Men (they’re everywhere, sweeping) will be assigned to a type of grizzly, gray-stone-roomed detention the likes of which they have never known…WITHOUT THEIR CELL PHONES!!!!!!  [Teens scream in horrified unison from the four corners of the globe…] Oh, we mean it. What now? Whuuuut?

Now, go forth and obey.

The Emperor graces the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning.

Chris Matarazzo is a writer, composer, musician and teacher of literature and writing on the college and high school levels. His music can be heard on his recent release, Hats and Rabbits, which is currently available. Chris is also the composer of the score to the off-beat independent film Surrender Dorothy and he performs in the Philadelphia area with the King Richard Band. He's also a relatively prolific novelist, even if no one seems to care yet. His blog, also called Hats and Rabbits, is nice, too, if you get a chance...
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2 Responses to “The Emperor decrees that teenagers must use “the” before the word “prom””

  1. I think it was a regional thing that expanded. I grew up in the Philly area and it was always “the prom.” My wife grew up in Tennessee, and she drops the definite article as well. My daughters said “going to prom” when they were doing so a year or two ago, so I think it has taken hold. I am distressed as well.

  2. Well, if there was one thing I learned in studying linguistics in college, it’s that language changes often come about for ease of speech – nothing ever gets more complicated. Shave off a word here or there and soon everyone’s doing it…

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