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Don’t Disrespect *This* August 24, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam.
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The phrase, “Don’t disrespect me,? is increasing in usage, the new catchphrase of talk shows, sitcoms and reality television. For some, it has become a common phrase in any emotionally charged argument. Not only is it grammatically incorrect, it could be a signal of a whole society crying out in pain.
Disrespect is not a verb. It is a transitive verb meaning lack of respect:
“Bubba! Don’t you disrespect me!? — is incorrect.
“Bubba! Stop being disrespectful to me!? — is correct.
“Keep disrespecting me and I will leave.? — is incorrect and sad, too. Like an exclamation point without the bellowing, the person is trying to appear composed but still emphasize the issue at hand.
(“If you keep treating me disrespectfully, I will leave.? — Is correct, by the way.)
It is troubling, not because it is incorrect (and you thought I was being stuffy, didn’t you?) but because people seem compelled to demand that illusive respect, especially from the people who should already honor them the most.
Is this new? Do we have to insist, beg, and plead for respect? Is the word “disrespect,? used incorrectly, less of a grammar problem and more of a society’s cry to be heard and valued?

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