don't know it- make it up! - concrete

I do get disappointed when people who should know better use incorrect words or 'sayings' and in doing so perpetuate the mistake. There is now, because of constant misuse, an entry in the newer dictionaries of:

Orientated. There is no such word. The word is Oriented. From the noun Orient: to establish ones' position. However the inability to correct the misuse has led to it being included in an official dictionary. This is of course how English has evolved over the centuries with misuse becoming so common that it enters the vernacular and becomes accepted. This version was used by a very venerable writer in an article in the Daily Telegraph. When I pointed out his error he accepted my point and told me about it being accepted now as common English. Quite interesting. It is easy to see how this happens, probably mishearing or misunderstanding.

However there are some words and phrases that should not be misused.

i.e. pacific as opposed to specific

bog standard as opposed to box standard. What is 'standard ' about a bog?

And the growing trend, especially amongst so called 'celebrities' to put a 'ness' on the end of a random word when they can't think of or don't know the relevant noun, adjective or adverb.

i.e. beautifulness instead of beauty,

The list goes on of course and I am sure we all have our 'pet' words or sayings we would like to protect. Anybody else have any comments about the misuse of these.

Cheers Concrete

don't know it- make it up! - Andrew-T

In general I sympathise with these sentiments - however on the example of Orientate, I have to report that Webster's of 1932 includes it in two senses - the one you mention and a second, = to face the east. Webster's is American-based of course, but the word has some pedigree.

I object much more to starting a sentence with 'Me ...' or (worse) 'Myself ...'. It's down to decades of permissive schooling, 'freedom of expression', etc. Tolerable usually when the meaning is clear, but that's not always the case with careless speech or writing.

don't know it- make it up! - Engineer Andy

Much of today's made-up and slang words seem to eminate from the pie-holes (sorry, I mean mouths) of sportsmen, and mainly footballers. My 'favourites' are:

  • A 'big' game - ever heard of the words 'important' or 'crutial'?
  • Adding "y'know" and "like" randomly in sentences;
  • Using the word 'so' in the wrong context (not sure whether we should blame the 'comedy actress' Roseann Barr for this, as she was supposedly the first to say it on TV), as in "you are so dead!"
  • Using however at the start of a sentence.

...and the worst, at least when written:

  • Using an apostrophe to wrongly designate the plural, i.e. Can I have five apple's, please? Presumably taught to the same people that put a 'football' on a lower case "i" rather than a dot.

Rant over for the day.

don't know it- make it up! - thecloser

Andy

I know that we are not supposed to be pedantic on this forum but if you are criticising somebody's grammar you should ensure that your spelling is up to the mark. 'Crutial' should be 'crucial'.

don't know it- make it up! - Engineer Andy

Andy

I know that we are not supposed to be pedantic on this forum but if you are criticising somebody's grammar you should ensure that your spelling is up to the mark. 'Crutial' should be 'crucial'.

Thanks - my spelling has improved over the years, but occasionally I get it wrong. I could never spell 'scissors' correctly at primary school. I'm more concerned about people who don't even try to make an effort - the odd spelling nistake (!) is fine, its the taking words out of context or making them up (as others have said) because they don't know how to put their point of view across in English, mostly due to laziness.

More of a rant, after an idiot on the Telegraph comments forums kept on bleating about X or Y and my supposed lack of education after several lapses in his own grammar and spelling. I suppose its all pot, kettle and black for us.

Have a good weekend.

don't know it- make it up! - Andrew-T

Nothing happens every day, only on a daily basis. Can't remember when I heard anyone say 'every day', or week, or month, or regularly ....

Nothing is difficult any more, but 'challenging'. It somehow sounds positive rather than negative?

don't know it- make it up! - Vitesse6

It is often reported that someone has been "pressurised" into doing something.

The correct term is pressured.

Pressurisation is what you do to a gas.

don't know it- make it up! - concrete

Hello All, Andrew, I agree with Orientate but the incorrect usage I was refering to is Orientated mainly as in Disorientated as opposed to Disoriented. It is in the same vein as the example given by Vitesse6 for pressured. Although we all get the meaning, it can make you wince at misuse of the language. I heard yesterday a young woman say 'You are a figure of my imagination' as opposed to figment. I know her, so I privately told her the correct phrase, with the reason being that some people may laugh at her for getting it incorrect. She was duly thankful.

English is the architect of its own downfall, being so versatile and open to misuse. Lots of sentences can be rearranged in many ways and the meaning remains. e.g.

I am going to London, or Going to London I am, or London I am going to. We would all get the meaning of that sentence, whereas in German, French or Spanish it would not be possible to get the words into a different order without losing the meaning. I suppose that is why English or rather 'pidgen' versions of it is the true international language. It is easy to learn in any form, either correctly or incorrectly.

Interesting comments though, thank you all.

Cheers Concrete

don't know it- make it up! - FP

As a graduate in English Language and Literature I've been reading this thread with some interest.

It is very difficult to be dogmatic or "purist" about language. It changes constantly; it re-invents itself in response to the needs and whims of its users. It is perhaps an unpalatable fact to some, but if enough people use a particular word or phrase, that will become the accepted and therefore the "correct" version.

We can of course detect ignorant and slovenly (i.e. unthinking and language-poor) usage, but even examples of these, if enough people use them, will become "fixed".

Concrete is right about the versatility of English; it has flexibility and invites creativity - qualities that have allowed it to produce the greatest literature in the world. However, he's a little confused about word-order. Though we can certainly say, "London I am going to", it is distinctly odd and you have to invent a bizarre situation to justify its utterance - which includes being the Star Wars character Yoda, of course.

English syntax depends on word-order. The fictional headline "Dog eats man" is entirely different from "Man eats dog". Many other languages have words which change their endings (inflections) to indicate syntax. In Latin you can say "Canis comedit hominem", or "Hominem canis comedit", or "Comedit canis hominem", or "Hominem comedit canis". They are all correct and the meaning is the same, though the emphasis may be different. (I know Latin is a dead language, but I'm using it to illustrate a point.)

German is an inflected language, but there are also special rules about word order. French is more like English than German as regards inflection and word-order, but is still a quite heavily inflected language.

As for English being easy to learn, I'm not so sure. The pronunciation presents major challenges to the speakers of some languages. Likewise the grammar - my wife's first language is Polish (which is highly inflected), which does not have articles (i.e. the equivalent of "the" or "a"). Her English vocabulary is excellent, but unless she thinks about it, she omits articles. Though her meaning is clear it sounds very odd. ("I caught later bus today and missed train.")

English is full of what were once colourful idiomatic phrases which must seem distinctly weird, as they are untranslatable. E.g. "We must not beat around the bush." "That is the last straw."

Lastly, English vocabulary is vast. Aside from words that, in one form or another, have existed in English since the Middle Ages or even earlier, we have appropriated many words from other languages. "Barbecue" and "sauna", for some reason, spring instantly to mind.

These things, together with our history of empire and of trade, have conspired to make English the most widely spoken (though not necessarily as a first language) and most widely understood language in the world. For example, if a Russian wants to travel in mainland Europe he will learn English, unless he's only ever going to one country.

I'm pretty sure most of us don't appreciate how enormously privileged we are.

P.S. Having just posted this, I realise how long it is. I'm sorry - it's pet subject and I got carried away.

Edited by FP on 12/08/2015 at 20:05

don't know it- make it up! - Avant

"It is very difficult to be dogmatic or "purist" about language. It changes constantly; it re-invents itself in response to the needs and whims of its users. It is perhaps an unpalatable fact to some, but if enough people use a particular word or phrase, that will become the accepted and therefore the "correct" version."

FP, you've put your finger on the crux of the issue. English, like all modern languages, is a living thing, and inevitably it has to adapt. But we can't descend to a free-for-all, otherwise we risk the whole structure of the language breaking down.

Some will say 'so what if it does break down?'. I think that if it did break down the loser would be CLARITY: and clarity - understandability to the reader of what we write - surely has to be the ultimate goal. I've given many courses on 'effective writing' and I've always begun and ended with the heartfelt plea 'Think of the Reader'.

I've just been sent this from the head office of a charity that I do some work for:

I hope you are all well and enjoying the warmer weather (well when it’s here!) welcome to Augusts monthly messages as usual I have quite a lot to cover but I wanted to especially highlight that I am away on annual leave from tomorrow (13 th ) and I won’t be returning till the 25 th August. If you need anything urgent in my absence xxxx will be able to help otherwise I will respond to you on my return.

We were lucky to get the full stop after August! Punctuation is just an example, but there's no doubt that this would have been much easier to pick up at the first attempt if it had been properly punctuated.

At the risk of sounding like Tony Blair, I do believe that there is a middle way: the language nedds to adapt but there are some basic rules wihich are worth preserving.

don't know it- make it up! - concrete

Hello All, very good points and very well made. FP and Avant are both correct in their assertions that flexibility and adaptability are important in the development of the English language. Conveying a meaning is fine, except when the meaning needs to be crystal clear, that is when correct usage, not vernacular comes into its own. The copy of the message sent to Avant demonstrates the lack of clarity whilst we all get the gist of what is written(although in a sort of text speak). Some of the finest examples of precision English IMHO is contained within the book Pride and Prejudice. In those days the same situation existed as today, in so far as the words refered to were uttered by educated people and would not have been uttered in the same fashion by people who received a lesser education, i.e. the general population.

We all accept the way words and phrases are changed through misuse but it is nice to attempt to keep some from being so, not only for clarity.

I apologise if my example of word order or syntax conveyed an impression of confusion. I am not confused about the matter. I was simply demonstrating that a meaning can be conveyed, no matter how odd it sounds, without the precise use of language.( Avants example). I have worked in many countries over the years and heard all sorts of derivations of English. It was always difficult to learn a local language because the locals want to practice their English. I always understood their general meaning and surprisingly little confusion occured.

There is one point upon which I would insist. That anyone working in the broadcast or written media is not allowed to misuse our language. Sometimes broadcasters/newsreaders simply read from a script. When the script is incorrect they sound ignorant themselves. Maybe their own knowledge of English is insufficient to detect misuse. It is unforgivable to have a poorly constructed script, it is a simple process to read it through for errors. Improve this and the general standard would rise as the received English would be accepted and used. As for live broadcasts, I wince at some of the gibberish they utter, but what to do!

Well that is my two pennyworth. I must say I have enjoyed all the comments and examples and I am comforted in the knowledge that there are still some who will try to protect the language from inferior evolution, commonly known as 'dumbing down'.

Cheers Concrete

don't know it- make it up! - Andrew-T

<< I'm pretty sure most of us don't appreciate how enormously privileged we are. >>

Hmmm. The flip side of this privilege is that so many foreigners now living in difficult (challenging?) circumstances have learnt English, and have decided their best option is to jump on a large lettuce leaf at great cost, cross the Med and aim for some English-speaking country. Most of them aren't interested in stopping off somewhere warmer on route - or so it seems from the news we get.

don't know it- make it up! - Sofa Spud

I'm not too bothered about grammar or incorrect words, but I do get annoyed by some of the cliches used by motoring journalists, often to avoid repetition. For instance in an article connected with Ford, journalists might refer to Ford as 'the Blue Oval', 'Henry's Finest', 'Dagenham' (or these days more likely 'Cologne'). Likewise Mercedes-Benz gets referred to as 'the Three Pointed Star' or 'Stuttgart' - while Land Rover is 'Solihull' and Ferrari 'the Pancing Horse' or 'Maranello'. I've also seen 'the Two Chevrons', 'the Lion', 'Hethel', 'Brown's Lane', 'the Leaping Cat', 'the Four-leafed Clover'. All this just to avoid repeating the name of the subject under discussion, but it's even worse than the repetition.

That said (itself a clumsy way of avoiding repeating 'having said that'), it must be a bit of a headache trying to come up with an alternative name for Caterham!

Edited by Sofa Spud on 23/08/2015 at 13:57

don't know it- make it up! - Wackyracer

I object much more to starting a sentence with 'Me ...' or (worse) 'Myself ...'. It's down to decades of permissive schooling, 'freedom of expression', etc. Tolerable usually when the meaning is clear, but that's not always the case with careless speech or writing.

Somebody I know always starts a sentence with 'No, ......'

They use the non existent word 'turnt' instead of turned.

Ironically they usually moan about young people not knowing how to spell.

don't know it- make it up! - focussed

I've been watching this thread to see if my pet hate has come up - it hasn't.

Who invented the horrible fashion of using "of" instead of "have"?

IE "I would of caught the bus" Rather than "I would have caught the bus"

Grrr-rant over - g'night all.

don't know it- make it up! - Wackyracer

You have reminded me of another one Focussed, why do Australians use "Don't" instead of "Haven't" ?

don't know it- make it up! - galileo

I've noticed many posters say they have 'brought' a car when they mean 'bought'. Can't think why they do this.

don't know it- make it up! - Andrew-T

Who invented the horrible fashion of using "of" instead of "have"?

IE "I would of caught the bus" Rather than "I would have caught the bus"

It's not a fashion, it's happened for decades. Someone who writes 'of' is just writing what he hears, without thinking what the words mean. But most of us on here are better educated than that? :-)

don't know it- make it up! - John Boy

I was brought up near Boston in Lincolnshire. When I go back there now, I notice that it's become more common to hear someone say "I aren't going to do that." rather than "I'm not going to do that." I recall being told off as a child for saying "I aint" and I think that it's happened to others who then try to talk "posh" and still get it wrong. That's how I think "I aren't" has developed in that region. I'd welcome comments on that.

don't know it- make it up! - Bromptonaut

Regional usages still vary significantly across the UK. One example is lend used where 'proper' English would say borrow - "can I have a lend of your bike?". I've heard professional people like doctors or lawyers use it in that way.

In the Midlands going to is rendered as going as in going London.

Today I was reminded that while in some parts of England high tea consists of cake and sandwiches in the north its an early and simple main meal like ham and eggs eaten around five pm.

don't know it- make it up! - HandCart

Does anyone except the posh have 'high' tea?

In the north, the meal in the middle of the day is 'dinner', and 'tea' is another meal (which may be simple or complicated) eaten anywhere between about 4:30 (mainly schoolkids) and 8:30 (commuting professionals).

'Supper' is an optional light meal taken soon before retiring to bed.


In the south, were school meals served by lunchladies, and paid for by lunch-money (if the bullies hadn't relieved you of it) ?

don't know it- make it up! - Leif
Ones I hate include burlarize, and chillax. That last one makes me cringe. My neighbour is a lovely chap but often mispronounces words, usually long ones. I don't bother to correct him. He is intelligent but from an era when people did not have as good an education as today, and he knows so much when it comes to DIY. I know he is embarrassed by his poor spelling.
don't know it- make it up! - Sofa Spud

I find it irritating when middle-aged parents still use outdated slang from when their kids were younger, like 'wally' and 'pants'. Like: "Don't be such a wally." and "those biscuits were pants." Those terms were bad enough at the time, let alone now, duuhh!

Edited by Sofa Spud on 08/12/2015 at 18:41

don't know it- make it up! - FP

Thanks for the heads-up, SS. I must watch what I say. Can one say "square" any more and be understood, do you think?

 

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