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candall

"LITERALLY!" and Other Offenders on the Grammar Police Docket

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I just saw Nancy Grace fuming with righteous indignation (for a change.)  She said:

 

"Dr. Phil, this crime LITERALLY makes my blood boil!"

 

I waited, but the top of her head did not blow off

 

.

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A number of years ago, I was reprimanded in a rather nasty way on a message board by someone who informed me-publicly, not in a PM--that the proper wording was "people who", not "people that".  Now, I never correct anyone who says that, but I always catch it--on tv and movies, in music.....

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Dear Countess LuAnn,

 

Please refrain from using the following sentence structure:

 

"He opened the champagne for Ramona and I."

 

You're royalty; set some standards.

 

.

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LOL.

 

This thread reminds me of the (controversial) debate on The Wire about the use of the verb "evacuate" (when you say you "evacuate" a person, it means you give that person an enema). 

 

I hate it when people misuse pronouns.  For example, I cringe when someone says "you can count on Steve and I."  Ugh.


Dang, candall, you beat me to it!!!

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Ugh.  I can't stand it when people misuse "myself."  When I used to watch Ghost Hunters, Jason was such a big offender, I almost couldn't stand to hear him talk.  "So Grant and myself hear a noise, and we go to investigate."  The eardrums!  They bleed!!

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This isn't about grammar, but I cringe whenever someone on screen says, "This isn't my forte," and pronounces "forte" as "fortay." 

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don't judge me but i thought forte was pronounced ''fortay''?? i have never heard anyone pronounce forte any different! once i know the correct way though i can smugly correct people as if i knew along ;)

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don't judge me but i thought forte was pronounced ''fortay''?? i have never heard anyone pronounce forte any different! once i know the correct way though i can smugly correct people as if i knew along ;)

It's fort ay.  (There's an accent over the e.)  I'm pretty sure Galax-arena accidentally omitted a word in her sentence. 

 

But now I'm dying to hear someone say "That's just not my fort."

Edited by candall
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The killer word for me is Moët, as in "Moët et Chandon."

 

It's actually pronounced Mo-wett and no one in the world seems to know it, but I keep gritting my teeth and saying it, even though I get a lot of condescending eye-rolls from people in nice clothes holding champagne flutes.

 

So, Dr. Phil, I guess the answer to your favorite question is:  I'd rather be right than happy.

Edited by candall
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I'm torn about literally, because I use it, as in, "She literally can't stop herself from fucking up." But OTOH, incorrect usage of words drives me a little nuts, in print more than in conversation. It's discreet, not discrete. Discrete means something else. Also, it's poring, not pouring.. If you are pouring, you are decanting liquid from a container. And I saw this example used by someone else elsewhere, but if your character is addicted to heroine, you should get them a copy of Wutherng Heights STAT.

Edited by Cobalt Stargazer
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No, I don't think I omitted a word. The "forte" in "this is my forte" should be pronounced "fort" and not "fortay" because it is derived from the French word. You should only pronounce it as "fortay" if you are actually talking about the Italian musical term.

Then again, we do enjoy bastardizing French pronunciation, so at least we're consistent. :D

Edited by galax-arena
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No, I don't think I omitted a word. The "forte" in "this is my forte" should be pronounced "fort" and not "fortay" because it is derived from the French word. You should only pronounce it as "fortay" if you are actually talking about the Italian musical term.

Then again, we do enjoy bastardizing French pronunciation, so at least we're consistent. :D

Thank you for an incredibly gracious correction, Galax-arena.  I shouldn't have been so quick to speak on your behalf.  Or to have spoken at all, as it turns out.  My google check wasn't very thorough--I thought the accent over the e sealed the deal, but that might have been a bit of floof stuck on my screen.  Sorry!

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"Needless to say" "not to mention" and the like. If you don't need to say it, then why are you? It's very annoying. Also, the s's thing.

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Not a grammar issue, but my current pet peeve is the extreme overuse (especially by athletes) of "It is what it is." Well no shit.

 

Cliff Lee, I am looking at you.

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Not just athletes. Seems like everyone on TV and real life has decided that "it is what it is" makes their stupidity sound more intelligent.

 

Back to the "literally" thing: It drives me to yell at my TV. That and its twin sister "actually," which frequently winds up being used in the same sentence. Not only do people use both of them for things that are not true, as in the "blood boiling" example, but also for things that are so believable that there's no reason to use them.  For example: "I tried to correct his grammar, but he actually told me to mind my own business, literally!"

 

The "literally/actually" thing is one of the many, many reasons that I regard the newscast from our local ABC affiliate as an amateur comedy show.

 

Dear Countess LuAnn,

 

Please refrain from using the following sentence structure:

"He opened the champagne for Ramona and I."

 

You're royalty; set some standards.

 

"He opened the champagne for Ramona and we." Better? :)

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Not a grammar issue, but my current pet peeve is the extreme overuse (especially by athletes) of "It is what it is." Well no shit.

Don't forget the prequel to that phrase, which is "At the end of the day..." Ugh

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Not a grammar issue, but my current pet peeve is the extreme overuse (especially by athletes) of "It is what it is." Well no shit.

 

Don't forget the prequel to that phrase, which is "At the end of the day..." Ugh

Reminds me of the exchange in Bull Durham with Ebby and Crash (who is brought in to groom Ebby,the rising star ):

 

Ebby says to a reporter:  "It feels out there. I mean, it's a major rush. I mean, it feels radical in kind of a tubular sort of way, but most of all, it feels out there."

 

Later, when Crash is teaching him how to respond to reporters:  "You're gonna have to learn your clichés. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. They're your friends. Write this down: 'We gotta play it one day at a time.'"

Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: "Got to play... it's pretty boring."

Crash Davis: "'Course it's boring, that's the point. Write it down."

 

I'll admit to thinking it was pronounced "for-tay".  Thanks for the lesson!

Edited by Shannon L.
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Don't forget the prequel to that phrase, which is "At the end of the day..." Ugh

I'm guilty of using both that and It is what it is. Been trying to curb back though. Not the easiest XD. It's a work in progress.

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The killer word for me is Moët, as in "Moët et Chandon."

 

It's actually pronounced Mo-wett and no one in the world seems to know it, but I keep gritting my teeth and saying it, even though I get a lot of condescending eye-rolls from people in nice clothes holding champagne flutes.

 

 

Ooh, ooh - I knew that one, candall!  But only because it was the best California winery visit I ever had, back in the early 80s - totally different from the cattle crush of other tasting rooms, and the French guide was a very pretty boy, all dressed in white.  YUM.  :-)

 

 

ETA - my pet peeve is people who think lines are towed.

Edited by walnutqueen
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The killer word for me is Moët, as in "Moët et Chandon."

 

It's actually pronounced Mo-wett and no one in the world seems to know it, but I keep gritting my teeth and saying it, even though I get a lot of condescending eye-rolls from people in nice clothes holding champagne flutes.

This reminds me of The Breakfast Club, where Judd Nelson's character mispronounces Moliere as 'Mo-lay', and to this day I can't decide if it was deliberate or not.

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Thank you for an incredibly gracious correction, Galax-arena.  I shouldn't have been so quick to speak on your behalf.  Or to have spoken at all, as it turns out.  My google check wasn't very thorough--I thought the accent over the e sealed the deal, but that might have been a bit of floof stuck on my screen.  Sorry!

Haha, no worries. And I feel like I should clarify one point. I've never been big on adopting a 100% prescriptivist mindset, because that's how language stagnates and dies. Google tells me that about 3 out of 4 people prefer to use "fortay." At that rate, you could argue that "fortay" is indeed an acceptable variation of the word (although "fort" still isn't wrong). And I can buy that; to reiterate, it wouldn't be the first time we've bastardized French words in the English language, heh. It's just something about that particular word being "mispronounced" (put in scare quotes) that gets under my skin. I guess it's because the "fortay" pronunciation is another word on its own, i.e. the Italian musical term, and that's what my mind always jumps to whenever someone says it. (I know other homophones exist! I don't know why this bugs me so much!)

 

So it's more of a pet peeve than anything else; I don't correct anyone IRL when they say "fortay" lol. 

Edited by galax-arena
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Not exactly a grammar thing (I think) - but every now and then I hear a person mispronounce a place name and they're supposedly FROM that place!  I know it's quibbling, but no one from Louisville KY pronounces it "loo-ee-ville" - they say "loo-ville". 

 

And it's "App-ah-LAT-cha", not "App-ah-LAY-cha", thank you very much.

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I hate it when someone talks about "my favorite pet peeve" (or "my biggest pet peeve"). Redundant.

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Not exactly a grammar thing (I think) - but every now and then I hear a person mispronounce a place name and they're supposedly FROM that place!  I know it's quibbling, but no one from Louisville KY pronounces it "loo-ee-ville" - they say "loo-ville".

I'm always willing to be flexible on the "Loo" part, but then they go too far and insist the back half's "-vull" and they lose my cooperation.

Edited by candall
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FWIW, Dictionary.com gives for-tey as the pronunciation for forte and Merriam-Webster says "In forte we have a word derived from French that in its “strong point” sense has no entirely satisfactory pronunciation."

Well yeah, dictionaries (particularly dictionary.com) generally present a more descriptive (vs prescriptive) view of language. It's why you hear about words like "selfie" eventually making their way to the Oxford Dictionary once they get popular enough. 

 

know it's quibbling, but no one from Louisville KY pronounces it "loo-ee-ville" - they say "loo-ville".

Man, it's sad that people from Loo-ee-ville don't know how to pronounce their own name! ;) 

 

What I want to know is if anyone calls it Lewis-ville. 

Edited by galax-arena
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I think the pronunciation of Appalachia is a north/south division. The Appalachian Trail, for example, is AppaLAYshun in NY and New England, probably down to Virginia.

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Mis-CHEE-vious instead of MIS-chievous.  That one gets me every time.

 

Another annoyance is people saying they "graduated college" instead of "graduated from college" (or high school).  I know it's not exactly wrong,  but I've only started hearing it said that way in the last couple of years.

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I've noticed that foreigners mispronounce Australia. It's Os-trail-ya. Similarly, Melbourne is Mel-bn, or sometimes -bin. Not born. Australian is a lazy dialet.

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I'm sure that "samwich" is totally acceptable now according to a dictionary or two, but it's sand-wich--with an "n" and a "d".  Drives me to distraction.

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Local TV anchors reading off a teleprompter is always good for a mispronunciation. My favorite was a report about a crooked contractor whose clients were "mizelled", better known as misled. The unfortunate anchor was teased about that one for years.

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Question:  Is the term "Funnyman" an actual word?  I hate the damn term for some reason, and every time I see it I wonder if anybody in comedy actually wants that label.

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Another annoyance is people saying they "graduated college" instead of "graduated from college" (or high school).  I know it's not exactly wrong,  but I've only started hearing it said that way in the last couple of years.
I am not alone! Thank you, @Ohwell! When, and why, did this become ubiquitous? It also drives me crazy that everyone adds "out" and "up" to words that don't need them and never used to have them. Switch does not need out added to it. Change does not need up added to it. I think what really bothers me is the widespread failure to note that things have changed. It's like everyone forgets something used to be said one way and now it's being said another way all the time.
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The juggernaut of modern grammatical errors!

 

People lie, chickens lay.

 

I mutter this at my television a hundred times a day.  No one listens.

 

 

 

 

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"Exponentially" is not a synonym for "a lot." Unless you're a scientist, mathematician, accountant, or someone of that ilk, you very likely have no business using it. It means "relating to a variable or unknown quantity that functions as an exponent." It is common for a thing that increases exponentially to do so very, very slowly; my savings account, for example.

 

If you live in California, that long road running from San Diego to Sonoma is El Camino Real, not the El Camino Real. "El" already means"the."

 

Local TV anchors reading off a teleprompter is always good for a mispronunciation.

If it weren't for the local news folks I don't know where I'd get my daily comedy fix. They remind me to have my children vaccinized. They tell me that the police have set up a perimener. They pronounce Putin's name as Putt-in, and the chancellor of Germany is Angela Muckrel. And one poor fellow is slightly dyslexic, which made one news item a couple of years ago about the cancelled Large Hadron Collider project into an item about the Large Hard-on Collider.

 

ETA - my pet peeve is people who think lines are towed.

They have a tough road to hoe.

 

People lie, chickens lay.

Unless they're having sex. The people, I mean.

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I've found my home in this thread!

My issues:

Five items or less

Her and I

Because vs. Since

Any modifier for unique

"Me and my friend"

And Luann isn't the only grammar violator of the housewives. They're all guilty (and pretentious).

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"Literally" being twisted is one that's always bugged me, but I can't get all that heated up about "Five items or less", because I think that's a far more legitimate example of the language adapting with the times.  Language is supposed to be fluid.  

 

The inexcusable ones are the ones that do a total about face on what's proper.  "Literally" means a specific thing, and yet seems to often be (mis)used to mean the exact opposite thing, and it's just annoying, lazy and dumb.

 

The ones that don't bug me much are the ones where common usage has so overwhelmingly changed, for so long, that it seems peevish to be the lone hold out.  Fewer vs. less is a pretty good example.  It's not like one word means the opposite of the other (like "literally" vs. "figuratively").  They mean the same thing, and it's just a matter of accepted usage which is correct.  And that kind of thing DOES change over time.

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Those of you driven to madness by "literally" being misused should stay away from Big Brother this season. They're driving me nuts with that shit.

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Nothing comes cheap at the new Bay Bridge eastern span - including tests on those suspect rods and bolts, which have clocked in at $20 million - and counting.

"It is what it is," said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, repeating the agency's all-but-official mantra to revelations of new costs popping up on the $6.4 billion span.

It sounds even worse when they're downplaying taxpayer dollars.

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The ones that don't bug me much are the ones where common usage has so overwhelmingly changed, for so long, that it seems peevish to be the lone hold out.  Fewer vs. less is a pretty good example.  It's not like one word means the opposite of the other (like "literally" vs. "figuratively").  They mean the same thing, and it's just a matter of accepted usage which is correct.  And that kind of thing DOES change over time.

I get what you're saying but, to me, just because a lot of people are saying something wrong doesn't make it right, or acceptable.  If that were the case, there would be no need to teach grammar in schools anymore; just let the young'uns say whatever they want, however they want.  I shudder at that thought.  Plus, my 4th grade teacher, Miss Henry, would be rolling in her grave (I imagine she's doing just that anyway.)

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Well, if we only went by what once was "right", people would still be burning suspected witches at the stake; slavery would still be an accepted norm; and homosexuality would be considered a psychological disorder. Like most things, language evolves and changes--doesn't mean we can't poke a little fun at it though.

 

ETA: "Tow the line" is particularly funny to me because when I was a teenager I remember having a little history lesson about how this was not about carrying a heavy burden (which was what I had thought) but literally (hee!) about stepping up and putting your toe on a line. To this day though, the image that phrase conjures is a guy dragging a very heavy rope. Sometimes you just can't shake those images.

 

And maybe it's the farm girl in me, but "hard road to hoe" cracks me the hell up. ;)

Edited by DittyDotDot
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I wouldn't compare slavery or witch-burning or homophobia with using improper grammar though.

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"Literally" being twisted is one that's always bugged me, but I can't get all that heated up about "Five items or less", because I think that's a far more legitimate example of the language adapting with the times.  Language is supposed to be fluid.  

 

The inexcusable ones are the ones that do a total about face on what's proper.  "Literally" means a specific thing, and yet seems to often be (mis)used to mean the exact opposite thing, and it's just annoying, lazy and dumb.

 

The ones that don't bug me much are the ones where common usage has so overwhelmingly changed, for so long, that it seems peevish to be the lone hold out.  Fewer vs. less is a pretty good example.  It's not like one word means the opposite of the other (like "literally" vs. "figuratively").  They mean the same thing, and it's just a matter of accepted usage which is correct.  And that kind of thing DOES change over time.

Well, that's an interesting point.  When does bad grammar become the graceful recognition of linguistic fluidity instead of being sloppy, lazy or stupid?

 

I don't accept that similar words are interchangeable right up to the point when the difference becomes so "literal vs. figurative" egregious that they're opposites.  These aren't synonyms, no matter how many people think they are:

Affect/effect

Imply/infer

Continual/continuous

Disinterested/uninterested

 

 

But there's also value left in mastering the differences between words with a more subtle distinction than semantics, words which improve the clarity of a statement.  Even though language is evolving, aren't most attempts to communicate helped rather than hindered by traditionally "correct" usage?

Fewer/less

Which/that

Whether/if

Since/because

Farther/further

 

 

Is grammar becoming irrelevant?

 

--My personal bugaboo, lie and lay. In the present tense, "lay" is a transitive verb requiring a subject AND an object (I lay the pencil on the table. I lie on the bed.)  Shall we throw out the musty rules of verb conjugation?  

 

--"There's only two doughnuts left."  Everyone understands the doughnuts are going fast, so is subject-verb agreement just another irrelevant old dinosaur as long as everyone's on board?

 

It's not foolish or pedantic to maintain standards beyond "common usage."   And "common" isn't automatically the equivalent of  "acceptable."   Isn't the natural course of a growing, evolving language to develop in the direction of greater precision rather than less?

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I realize I might be alone in this in this thread but language changes, grammar rules change and there is nothing we can do about it. Once a language doesn't change anymore, it's dead. If English hadn't changed or any of the other Indo-European languages, we would all be speaking Indo-European.

 

I don't mind people having pet peeves, but as long as a language is in use, the rules will change.

 

A language is a precise as a speaker. If one criticizes the use, you are criticizing the speaker. A lot social discrimination is based on the perception that a certain use is "worse" than another and thus the person is. Such as African American English. Or Newfoundland English in Canada. Or Swabian in Germany. Trust me, this idea that language deteriorates is as old as human kind. It really doesn't.

 

English has been losing its subject-verb agreement since the days of Old English. It's just something that continues. In comparison to many languages, it's already very restricted. Trust me, languages work well without it (Mandarin) or with very elaborate systems (Inuktitut or Russian).

Related verb conjugation even more so.

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