Maybe you all have, and I'm just slow, but it really annoys me to read an article, or hear a newscast, or read a story where ordinary words are misused. My three most annoying examples are - flaunt for flout, as in "He flaunts the law," when what is meant is "He flouts the law."

Then there's "diffuse" for "defuse" ("He diffused the bomb;" interesting way to get one through a wall, I guess).

And, finally, on a story about a revolutionary war hero, the, ahem!, reporter had the man's family standing around the grave, and referred to them as his "ancestors."

Perhaps I am just too curmudgeonly, but it seems to me that if one's words are going into a public venue, one might take a bit of care to ascertain the proper word.

Views: 129

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

It wet my appetite.
I get irritated every time I see "sported" used to mean "had attached to it". Come on, people, sporty has a meaning, too. But my absolute obsession is the difference between convince and persuade. It's as if the word "persuade" has fallen out of the dictionary, and convince has taken on both meanings.

On the other hand, good grammar can go too far. One of my favorite young authors tags his message board posts with "This is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put."

I had an offer of help from an editor who has worked with some old-time big names, and I won't turn any of my books over to her. To her, correctness is all, even when it doesn't suit the tone. I insist that my books be something that a trained professional can be proud of, but I won't let that make me tone-deaf. If anything is "all," it's making the reader live the story.
Your favorite young author should have the good graces to credit that paragon of literacy, Sir Winston Churchill, for that quote. Wolcott Gibbs, parodying the evah-so-clevah synatx that distinguished the prose in Time magazine, decades ago, came up with, "Backwards ran sentences until reeled the mind."

Back on track, the saddest of them all is here: "Nine American troops were killed by a roadside bomb today." When did that start? Is one soldier, therefore, a troop?

A happier, but equally ludicrous, syntactical horror: I've heard conductors on the LIRR saying that a train would "platform in ten minutes." I guess it's parallel with a boat docking, but it's jarring.
You meant "jargon"? ;-)
I'm afraid that, when I hear "platforming" the jar is still present.
Like Bill, I recognise that quote as borrowed from Churchill's rail against the absurdity of the out-dated rule forbidding the ending of a sentence with a preposition: 'This is the sort of English up with which I will not put'. Like you, I am fed up to the back teeth with the substitution of 'persuade' with 'convince'. It 's a big favourite with advertisers over here. But it has failed to persuade me that I ought to be convinced to buy anything.
I actually have a solution, albeit a somewhat Swiftian one, for this problem. Any American citizen wishing to (a) vote, (b) obtain a driver's license or (c) get a credit card must be able to sight-read a 250-word passage from the Commentarii de Bello Gallico. In order to be an elected official, an applicant must be able to sight-read a chapter from Cicero's De Officiis.
Granted, not a very practical approach, but just think what the country would be like if it could be applied. And the first person to call me an elitist . . . gets a big hug.
You've reminded me of a story my wife's family tells of one of their retainers (they never had money, but somehow they always had servants), an old black man named Bill.

During Jim Crow, whites would keep blacks from voting by requiring a literacy test. Both races would be asked to read from a newspaper, only the black applicants' paper was in Chinese. According to the family story, Bill looked at the paper and the white poll worker asked if he knew what it said. Bill said he did.

"And what is that?"

"It says that no colored man is going to vote in Newton County, that's what it says."
I did ask one of my favorite young authors about this, and he said he has heard it might have been wrongly attributed to Churchill. Sounds like we need to know the context "in which" it can be found.
And apostrophes added when writing about plurals. AIEEEE!!
My husband works in television and what a "talent" earns in a 135 market could be lost in the cushions of your couch. They aren't called journalists or even reporters. We gets what we pays for. Of course, the new young lady on his morning show did say that the high civilian death count in Iraq was due to "secretarian" violence. (Apparently the Moslem "clericals" have everyone stirred up.)
"Decimate" when they mean "destroy."


CrimeSpace Google Search

© 2024   Created by Daniel Hatadi.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service