A List of Misused Words

rogersgeorge on January 4th, 2017

I’m still in vacation mode, so here’s a link to a list of solecisms posted by Steven Pinker, who teaches at Harvard. Pinker’s a good guy, but I confess I’ve never run into some of these goofs; perhaps I don’t hang around with Harvard types enough.

http://www.businessinsider.com/a-harvard-linguist-reveals-the-most-misused-words-in-english-2015-12

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Getting on your case

rogersgeorge on September 27th, 2012

I don’t know why I’m being so hard on comics lately. Usually comic artists are pretty careful about their use of language, and I have a lot of respect for them, what with having to not only draw, but also write, two very different skills, neurologically speaking. This one is from a comic I don’t read regularly. I saw a link to it on a website that I do read, and this was on the first page. I got locked onto the solecism and haven’t read anything else. It looks like it might be a nice adventure tale for those of you who like that sort of comic, PG rated, I suppose. The comic is called Valkyrie, by By Fernando Heinz Furukawa and I don’t know what the comic is about. Shame on me for generalizing after looking at only one page, but judging from the non-human sidekick and the cleavage,  it looks like it’s aimed at boys in their early teens. The link is to the page where I got this cell.

The speaker might be in character to make the goof, and the artist actually knows better, right? After all, with a Spanish/German/Japanese name, he ought to be really good at English, right?

You know what the mistake is, right? We have a nominative being used as a direct object. Nominative is the general term for what my English teacher called the subjective case, because it was used for the subject of sentences. In every other Indo-European language (far as I know) they call it the nominative.

Remember your English teacher saying that with the imperative, you have an implied subject, “you”?  So “Sit down” is really “(you) sit down.” Or in this case, (you) let Sandra and ME deal with your son’s abduction.”

I brought your attention to this example because this mistake most often happens with compound objects of prepositions (it was between him and I) and less often with a direct object. It often happens in the writing and speech of people who fancy themselves as edumacated. They picked it up from being corrected as children, when they started to say something like “Me and Tom went fishing” and the authority figure at hand said, ” ahem. Tom and I went fishing, and is that why you are so muddy?”

So how do you prevent this solecism? The culprit the compound construction. Say the sentence without the compound. Then the wrong way sounds wrong. So: “Let me deal with your son’s abduction.”

Now I think I’ll go see what happened to that son.

 

A kind of mistake

rogersgeorge on January 29th, 2012

I frequently use the word “solecism,” meaning a mistake in grammar. It’s one of my favorite words (harrumpf). I also read A.Word.A.Day, written by Anu Garg. The word of the day a while back was “solecism.” Here’s the article. He includes a link to an audible pronunciation of the word, and an inspiring quote at the bottom. I left both of those out to help motivate you to click the link to the site.

A.Word.A.Day–solecism

solecism (SOL-i-siz-ehm, SO-li-) noun

1. A grammatical mistake or a nonstandard usage.

2. A breach of etiquette.

3. An error, inconsistency, or impropriety.

[From Latin soloecismus, from Greek soloikismos, from soloikos (speaking incorrectly; literally, inhabitant of Soloi) after Soloi, an ancient Athenian colony in Cilicia where a dialect considered as substandard was spoken.]

“`Ah! Madam,’ said Ovid, `how great a solecism would it be both in a lover and a poet if he did not look upon his mistress as the sublimest object of his thoughts!’
Benjamin Boyce and Thomas Brown; The Adventures of Lindamira: A Lady of Quality; The University of Minnesota Press; 1949.

“But the AAUP’s (Association of American University Presses) guidelines go beyond correcting what it regards as solecisms to more drastic exercises in raising consciousness. Consider the traditional personification of ships as feminine. According to the AAUP task force, such usage is `quaint at best’ and should be avoided: `it’ is preferred. Along the same literalist lines, you should think twice before describing an important work by a woman scholar as `seminal’.
Speech Therapy; The Economist (London); Jun 3, 1995.

If you don’t subscribe to the AWAD email already, why are you still reading this post? Go subscribe right now. Then come back and don’t make any more solecisms.