I know I'm fighting a rear-guard action, and that I open myself to charges of being an uptight fussbudget, but the continuing destruction of the English language is depressing.
I have my own quirks. I refuse to use "whom," and pray for its speedy demise from the lexicon. I squirm every time I hear "you and I" when "you and me" is correct. A man is hanged when executed. If a man is hung, it means something else, no?
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
But, today, I heard a howler of a mixed metaphor on NPR. Even speaking extemporaneously is no excuse for this:
"It won't catch fire in a way that will allow it to snowball."
Um, that doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of being correct.
Any examples out there for our delectation?

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To whom speak you, sirrah? Have you a hanger and I'll meet you anon!

When we're writing, it's always a question of time, place, character and dialect. Not to excess, of course.

As for the flub on NPR . . . well, what they say is, "The audience is no longer a monolith." When I worked at affiliate stations, we were expected to to uphold Strunk & White. Now the network people - especially - fear sounding like what Precious Leader calls "those elites."
To my mind execution and hanging are, although the same ending, as in dead, two different things. I always think of execution as being shot, where hanging, is being hung. I dont think you would ever say someone was executed when they were hung because it would put a different picture in your mind.
No, my point was that the word for execution is hanged, not hung. A picture is hung, a man is hanged.
And, you are executed if the prevailing power kills you for a crime, whether by shooting, hanging, drawing-and-quartering, or throwing to the wolves.
The distinction you make is yours alone.
Can't say that I appreciate the incorrect use of "who," though I've come to accept some erosion of the "whom" form in genre writing. :)
My personal horror is reserved for the confusion of "lay" and "lie" (even by some acclaimed and best-selling mystery authors).

Mixed metaphors are fun. Someday I'll have a character who does this all the time.
I did say the who/whom thing was a personal quirk, but the whom form is vestigial, and will fall into desuetude.
Mixed metaphors are funny, which was my intention on reporting it.
Much of what causes trouble with grammar is the result of imposing a Latinate structure on what is essentially a Teutonic language (1066, and all that).
The evolutionary trend is toward simplification. My personal horror is the cheapening of language from imprecision ("I could care less") and by design (The Clean Skies Act, No Child Left Behind) for political purposes.
Orwell was right: If you want to destroy a society, corrupt its langauage.
Ah, a man after my own heart. Vestigial and desuetude? Nice.

The Latinate structure came in after 1066. The influence of the renaissance and the humanists at the British universities. English is a bit of a polyglot language. And that accounts for its weird pronunciation and spelling, it's comparatively enormous vocabulary, its abundance of idioms, and the continuous effort of human beings to bring some sort of simplification to the chaos. :)
By 1066, I meant that the Norman invasion was the genesis of the Romance influence on English. Of course, it was already polyglot, being a mongrel of Danish, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and whatever other seadogs put their genes and vocabulary in the mix.
I am happy to be an English speaker, thrilled at the language's ability to absorb and digest loan words, but not so happy with the bizarre grammar. I share the desire to simplify the tongue, both for spelling and grammar. I believe Churchill and Shaw felt the same.
Jeez, this makes me sound like a spavined academic, when my early training was NYC street lingo. Despite my intellectual pretensions, I am a Bronx kid.
Shouldn't writers have intellectual pretensions? Or has the intellect gone out of fashion?
Writers should be able to communicate ideas. If intellectual pretensions help do that, fine, but if they get in the way, then they have to be sacrificed.
Umm, splitting hairs here, but ideas are surely intellectual?

No, I know. You're talking about language. And there it all depends who your audience is. It certainly can't hurt for a writer to be knowledgeable and flexible.
The worst for me is spelling it "alright" instead of "all right". The word means that everything is fine, so all is right, therefore, all right. "Alright" doesn't make any sense and it doesn't even look correct.
As a spoken word, "alright" is all right. It is one word in its own right.

The English language is filled with nuances. I meet many Urdu and Punjabi interpreters in my day job, and they say that interpreting can be tricky as those languages don't have nuances in the same way that English does, so the meanings can change. Pretty important in a courtroom.


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