In The Armchair

Ugh! English Bloopers!

Posted in Books and Literature by Armchair Guy on December 23, 2008

eats_shoots_leaves1I remember the excitement generated by Lynne Truss’s book Eats, Shoots and Leaves on the massacre of the English language in modern society.  Pedants across the world rejoiced and nodded their erudite heads approvingly.  I count myself among them. “That’ll show ’em,” we thought.  “About time someone owned their ignorant asses.”

Here’s my list of aggravations, observed quite independently of the book, that make me grit my teeth with irritation.  I guess I’ll keep adding to it over time.

Your instead of You’re Example: “Let me know where your going”.  Common on juvie forums across the internet.

Martha and I I imagine this is a peculiarity of American speech.  Reminded often that you say “Martha and I are going there” and not “Martha and me are going there,” Americans overcompensate and use “Martha and I” everywhere.  “He invited Martha and I for dinner.”  Urgghhttt!

She has came Common Indian howler.  Since things are in the past tense, the assumption is that everything in the sentence must be, too.  Result: “The doctor has came.”

“Of” overuse “We will provide as detailed of a coverage as we can,” the lady says.  I’ve heard this mostly from Americans.  I believe the correct usage is “As detailed a coverage”, and adding the extra “of” makes it sound grammatically incorrect — and silly.  Another example: “jump off of a building”, instead of “jump off a building”.   Wuh?

“Moot” misuse This is common in a lot of Indian sources. An example: “The moot question is, who is the culprit?”.  Moot means irrelevant or of no practical importance.  But reporter after reporter seems to use it with a meaning diametrically opposite.

Alot It’s a peculiar trend: a lot of people (mostly kids on forums) seem to think “a lot” is a single word.  “ALOT of people think so”, you might read somewhere.

I could care less The correct phrase is “I couldn’t care less”, but presumably several dumb pre-teens misheard it and continued using the incorrect version into adulthood. Here‘s some more info on this.

Beg the question Most people who use this phrase have absolutely no clue what it means. “Begging the question” means to use a circular argument. If you are trying to prove a statement but assume the statement itself at some point in the proof, THAT’s begging the question. It’s explained in detail on wikipedia. It has nothing to do with the natural question to ask in a given situation. “He witnessed the murder, which begs the question why he was there in the first place.” — that’s completely wrong.

Dialogues The word “dialogue” is popular in India, but not in its usual form.  It is used almost exclusively to refer to lines in movies.  It doesn’t represent an exchange between two parties, and it doesn’t refer to the totality of such an exchange.  A dialogue is simply a single line in a movie. “What a dialogue, yaar!”  “The dialogues were written by…” etc.  This doesn’t actually bother me that much; it is so widespread that I view it as an addition to Indian English rather than simply an incorrect use of the term.

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