One of my friends insists that “meant to” is analogous to “destined to,” and therefore saying “I was meant to meet her at Milano” is referencing star-crossed fate.
Other friends maintain that “meant to” is also interchangeable with “supposed to,” and therefore “I was meant to meet her at Milano” can take a more practical meaning.
It’s interesting to think about the quirks of each others’ language and why those little differences exist. The New York Times’ dialect quiz, which tells you which area of the United States your dialogue is most like based on your answers to 20 questions, took fewer than 11 days to become the most-read article of 2013.
It turns out that language changes extremely quickly. The people you spend time around can heavily influence your dialect. You might have noticed that you’ve picked up some of your roommates’ mannerisms and they some of yours. This is why different dialects and mannerisms can be pinned back to locations, as the New York Times quiz and our “meant to”/”supposed to” debate shows.
So if language is changing all the time, what’s the point of grammar? Why is copy editing a job at all? Is AP style just a futile attempt to tether down one language at one point in time? After all, the grammar rules of Old English are vastly different from the ones of today.
Well, no. I like to think that it’s because spoken language changes so quickly that written language needs a set of standards. Those standards are what facilitate easy communication across regions and across the world. Of course, as spoken language evolves significantly, written language and its rules will eventually follow. But until then, I’m meant to be at my copy editing shift.