A woman who insists that she is right all the time has been proved wrong. Kind of.
The woman, Lesley Jhonson, was once told that she should spell her name 'Johnson', but wouldn't budge, even though her family, as far back as the Domesday Book, has spelt it with the 'J' followed by the 'o'.
Lesley has been right all her life, and, at three months old, was already correcting her mum with an admonishing finger from her crib. Once she had acquired the power of speech, there was no stopping her.
Nobody was spared. Her friends, teachers at school, the school crossing patrol lady, the kind old gentleman at the sweet shop, even her dear old grandma came to feel the powerful force of Lesley, telling them they were wrong, and she was right.
Then, her Judgment Day finally arrived.
Lesley, a prosecuting attorney in Berkeley, CA, was in court, when the defense attorney in the case spoke to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury, and told them his client was:
"Innocent until proven guilty."
Lesley's cheeks puffed red, as she objected:
"Objection! The prosecution objects to the use of the word 'proven' where 'proved' is clearly the correct term!"
An argument ensued. The defense said that either word was acceptable, whereas Lesley said that, as 'proved' was the only word used as a Past Tense form of the verb 'prove', it was correct, and 'proven' a corruption of the legitimate form. It was interesting, to say the least.
The judge, bewildered, watched the exchanges like a spectator at a tennis match, but stayed silent. The defense attorney looked amazed that Lesley was sticking to her guns so rigidly over something which seemed so unimportant, but their paths clearly hadn't crossed before.
Lesley rolled her sleeves up and got busy. She cited the 19th century grammarians Joseph Hull, Seth Hurd, Richard Bache and Luther Townsend, who, for various reasons, poured scorn on the word 'proven'. She mentioned William Hills, Frank Vizetelly and Sherwin Cody, who said similar things in the 20th century, and only 'rested her case' when she could see the eyes of one of the members of the jury start to glaze over. Surely, the case had been proved, hadn't it?
Not quite. The defense, no slouch, licked his lips, and rose slowly. First of all, he told the court, he personally believed that either of the disputed words could be used. He chose to use 'proven', but would never take issue with anyone who used 'proved'. He cited his own historical evidence in one Thomas Lounsbury, and stated that 'proven' is the more common form when used as an adjective before the noun it modifies. He also asked the jury to remind themselves of its widespread use in Congress. He then directed them to remember Lesley's use of Cody and Vizetelly as 'evidence' to prove that 'proven' was not proper. They remembered. Next, he told them that Cody had called its use 'antiquated' whilst Vizetelly had said it was 'modern', and this within a few years of each other!
"Furthermore," he went on, "Vizetelly asserted that the only place 'proven' could be used correctly was - ironically - in courts of law."
The courtroom fell awkwardly silent. The color drained away from Lesley's previously-puffed cheeks. All eyes watched her sag into her seat. The judge smashed his gavel down thrice and called for "Order! Order! Order!" despite the lack of disorder. Then he spoke:
"I have listened, thoroughly bored, to this discussion, and conclude that either of these usages shall suffice in this courtroom."
Lesley Jhonson leapt out of her chair:
"Objection, your Honor, both to your pronunciation of the word 'either', and to your use of the word 'shall'!"