Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I have to confess...

I get irritated when I see people misuse language...

I was just on a forum and read about someone receiving "exuberant bills" - she meant "exorbitant bills".

Then I clicked on another thread and read about someone who wanted to hear from people who had "brought" a house - she meant "bought a house".

I once laughed - out loud - at Luey's prep teacher when she told me she was "mortified" to find he'd dug up the dead and buried class hermit crab - she meant to say she was "horrified".

I get irritated because I try very hard to use the right words for the right context, and to know the meaning of the words I use.

I know language changes - I did a unit of linguistics during my undergraduate degree. I understand that it is fluid, and that "oriented" is now "orientated", whether I like it or not.

I just find it disturbing to think of bills dancing and whooping their way through my house, or having to lug my house around with me, or dying of embarrassment when a five year old does what five year olds do even though I had nothing to do with the five year old choosing the horrifying act of digging up a dead hermit crab.

I'm not perfect. You'll more than occasionally find a "there" where I meant to write "their", or a "to" where I meant to write "two" or even "too", but it saddens me because one of the great things about the English language is the vast number of words we've developed to distinguish the smallest of nuances in concepts. English is a hodgepodge of languages with a terribly inconsistent set of grammatical rules - it's neither phonetic, nor logical. So, the very best thing about this language is its amazing range of vocabulary, and the ability to pick a word that is so precise it can only pertain to one concept. If we decide the discrete meaning of words is not important, then we will lose the greatest asset the English language has - it's words!

Cartoon sourced from www.pawneeschools.com

6 comments:

Kate said...

Giggling at the exuberant bills! They may be exuberant but I'm sure not when they arrive!!

Sad fact - the DVD I'm giving away this week has a song in it called Determinate. An it's been in my head all week even whilst it annoys me!!

Sif said...

Argh!

See, orientated, for example really irritates me because it's wholly accepted as interchangeable with oriented, but the two words have completely different meanings. Oriented means how something is situated in regards to it's environment, but orientated means to make something oriental. So, if a person was orientated to the south, they were made oriental on their south-facing side... When the something is "tated" it is "made"... Irritated, is to be made irritable...

Sif said...

And because I know people are going to tell me my assertion above is just plain 'rong', here's a fun link about this very word...

http://www.niquette.com/books/101words/orient.htm

Sif said...

However, if anyone is keen to conversate on this topic further, I'll be more than happy to oblige :).

http://iconlogic.blogs.com/weblog/2008/11/grammar-workshop-orient-or-orientate-converse-or-conversate.html

√Ěr said...

Love your pies...uh...peace...BOTHERATION!...you know what I mien!

Sif said...

Off to the naughty corner with you!