What was I thinking?

Monday, November 06, 2006

What's in a word?

Have you ever heard words that piss you off, even if they're used right?

The word woken does that to me. There's the Sleep Numbers Bed commercial where the guy says "I have not woken up..." In fact, that expression irks me so bad, I actually went to the dictionary and found that, while it's not necessarily grammatically incorrect, it's not necessarily grammatically correct, either.

According to Webster, it's a "...past part of wake" and that's all that's said about the word. It doesn't show it as a verb, noun, adjective, adverb or any other element of speech. Just that it's there.

So, how does that guy in the commercial fix what he says? "I haven't awakened..."

A person I know is one of those types of folks who likes to use $10 words but only has a dollar store brain to use them with. When she's indignant about some atrocity in the world, she says "I can't phantom why someone would do that." Let me see if I've got this straight -- you can't spirit/ghost/spectral figure why someone would do something?

Our neighbor is another one with a bad word habit that annoys me. "The hofstras in the front of the house have started to bloom." You actually have flowering colleges in your front yard?

How about some of those commonly misspelled words we see so much of? "I don't wan't to loose my job." Do you say "GOOZ" when you see the word goose? And, it's definitely, not definately.

Even my own beloved Lisa has a couple of mispronunciations that grate on my nerves. Hon, it's asphalt not ASHphalt. And, there's only one "t" in the little flowers called impatiens. Those flowers don't need to be patient, nor do they lack patience. And, I thought I was going to cough up a hairball when she came inside after spending a couple of hours weeding the gardens and announced "I wed all the beds on the side and front of the house." Honey, we are fighting for marriage equality, but to each OTHER. She protests that it's a Pennsylvania dialect thing, like another Pennsylvanian's "dippy eggs." I'm thinking it's not the eggs that are dippy. We put flowers in a thing that rhymes with the word face not with the place Dorothy and Toto traveled to, even if we are millionaires.

Irregardless really chaps my behind, too. According to Mirriam Webster "Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that "there is no such word." There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead. " Yes, please use regardless!

When did bad come to mean good? How is it that a litter of kittens is awfully cute? Is that band's newly released song really wicked cool? When I instant message my son and ask if he'll be home for dinner and he responds with "prolly," does that mean yes?

There are people in this country who advocate speaking one language only -- English. They are arrogant enough to think that speaking and teaching in one language only will save taxpayers money, and will heighten the educational outcomes of our schools. The problem, as I see it, is that even those of us who speak English as a primary language can't speak it correctly so how are we going to reasonably convince those that speak English as a second language that it's in their best interest?

Here in New York, I can go to McDonald's and order a chocolate milkshake. In Massachusetts I would order a frap. That fizzy drink with orange flavor? In some places it's called pop, some places it's called soda, and some places it's called soda pop. If his beer sat around long enough that it wasn't cold any more, my ex-husband used to say it was hot. I never saw any steam coming out of the can, nor did it ever burn my hand when I picked it up.

Footlong sandwiches can be heroes, submarine sandwiches, hoagies, or torpedoes, depending on where you live. If you stand in front of a crowd and want to get their attention in the North, you say "May I have your attention please?" In the south it's "Can y'all give a listen here?" In the military, it's simply "LISTEN UP!"

We've gotten in such a hurry that we don't even use words sometimes. We can watch programming on HDTV, DVD, VHS or an LCD TV. We listen to music on an MP3 player or an iPod. We talk to each other using AOL IM.

On the other extreme, we have a lot of redundancy. We take cash out of an ATM machine (automated teller machine machine). When we do that, we have to enter our PIN number (personal identification number number). After we get our cash out of that ATM machine we go to the DMV to register our new car and they ask for the VIN number on the car (vehicle identification number number). Finally, we get home to find that the hot water heater isn't working properly. I'm wondering why I need to heat hot water anyway. Isn't it already hot?

Finally, let's teach our little ones to speak properly. It's a blanket, not a binkie. It's a train, not a toot-toot. If they're old enough to say "pacifier," (or woobie or pookie or whatever else they call them), they're too old to have the damned thing stuck in their mouths.

Maybe I just need more coffee...or java...or joe.


  • At 11/06/2006 7:50 PM, Blogger Jenn said…

    I am RIGHT with you on this one. Here in MN it is common to hear someone say "Hey...can you borrow me your...?"

    It's LOAN ME!!!! Not BORROW ME!!!

    As with most things, The Idiot and I are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to cutesy words for kids. I'm constantly explaining the correct words to my daughter and she's frequently confused. It took her forever to realize a 'boo-boo' is the same as a scratch/cut/bump.

    And don't even get me started on 'poopies'. I just want to vomit when I think of him saying 'make a poopy'.


  • At 11/07/2006 10:32 AM, Blogger Hotflash said…

    Pat you should put that entire article in the newspaper! You should write a column, seriously.

    My ex used to have a phrase that burned my ears... "this is all the farther it can go." WTF?

    No. No. No... this is AS FAR AS it can go.

    On the other hand, some words used by my latino hottie (yes, we are back together for now) make me roll on the floor laughing... he is a macho latino man... very intimidating type -- he was a cop. He rides a harley. He'll rip your head off with no questions.... yet he refers to his male anatomy as his "wi-wi".... I'm sorry but it seriously puts me on the floor laughing because he seems more the type to refer to it as his "DICK" or something manly.... not "wi-wi" He has been known to call it his "dig"... which makes me think he does not know how to spell it correctly in english... but whatever....

    And my friend Cami pronounces words that end with "ing" as "ink".. goink, lookink.... drives me insane. (and no she's not russian or polish)

    I'm guilty of getting lazy and instead of saying "I'm going to go...." I say "I'm gunna go"

    And I've rambled long enough here so... I'm gunna go.......

  • At 11/09/2006 10:44 AM, Blogger Pat said…

    Michelle, I could never write professionally for newspapers or magazines.

    I drop the "F" bomb too much.

  • At 11/26/2006 7:14 AM, Blogger ZaPaper said…

    Hi! I totally empathize with you on this, especially the phantom fathom. My own pet peeve is people saying "less things." If the things are a count-noun, it should be "fewer things." My boyfriend, a smart fellow who scored better on the SAT and GRE verbal sections than I did, steadfastly ignores all grammatical corrections, however. Hopeless. :P

    Got a bone to pick with you on vase though. I personally do "face" rather than "oz" but my dictionary says either one is correct. It's one of those things that is perceived as an elegant object, and therefore the vowel gets Europeanized/Frenchified to reflect that (probably what bothers you)...but it's still an accepted pronunciation even if it strikes you (and probably me as well) as a tiny bit pretentious.


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