Latest language peeve

. . . and something you will never see on this website, unless some commenter wants to have their tuchus chewed.

It’s the following sentence:

“This.”

It invariably appears after a passage from someone else that a blogger has quoted with approbation. “This” is simply a faux-hip way to indicate agreement. It is the sign of a lazy writer.

What’s even worse is when it’s followed by the sentence “A hundred times this.”

Call me a curmudgeon (on second thought, don’t dare), but this is the opinion of Professor Ceiling Cat, which is His.

And close behind “this” on the disapprobation scale is the word “peeps” for “people.” “Peeps” is reserved for the marshmallow candies made by the Just Born company:

250px-Pink_peeps

THESE are Peeps. Got it?

Of course, I invite you to add your own language peeves below. Please, no comments to the effect of “language evolves, so everything is okay,” vfor this post is designed blow off steam.

p.s. I thought of another: Any sentence that begins with “To be truthful. . . ”  That, of course, implies that the speaker/writer has not previously been truthful.

546 Comments

  1. Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    “This” is simply a faux-hip way to indicate agreement. It is the sign of a lazy writer.

    +1

    • Latverian Diplomat
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      In the absence of an upvote feature, people will do something like “this”. Pun intended.

      As a reader, it’s nice to not to have to parse a complete sentence just to register a simple statement of support.

      • gbjames
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

        Yes.

        These are actually good things. Like “sub” they serve a purpose, allowing people to express approval (or get email deliveries) without waste everyone’s time with contrived but grammatically correct sentences. I could go on further about this, but it wouldn’t really do any of any good. Or at least I don’t think it would. Maybe someone else disagrees with me. Bla bla bla.

        Now, don’t you wish I had just stopped with “Yes”?

        • Merilee
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:56 am | Permalink

          Yes

        • Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

          This

          …is something with which I agree.

          • ladyatheist
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

            ^ what they said

        • Marella
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          Indeed.

        • wnwd
          Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

          Actually, I could use a primer on these.
          Are “sub” & “+1″ & “^” all the same?
          Are these solely expressing approval of the ‘replied-to’ post?, or also with some further meaning?
          Are these basically the same as the “This” that leads this entry?
          What’s “sub” short for?
          Is “+1″ derivative from C+?
          Are there more of these?, etc… ‘preciate it!

          • gbjames
            Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

            “sub” is short for “subscribe”

            The others are ways to express agreement.

            Are there more? Thousands.

            • wnwd
              Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

              Thanks!… perhaps I should’ve specified that I meant other/more “ways to express agreement” in one word or symbol or short expression, as the mentioned “sub”, “+1″, “^”, & “This”… but it’s a good link.

              • gbjames
                Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:46 am | Permalink

                Here’s another one: “Yes”

                And of course, you can invent new ones if you like.

          • ROO BOOKAROO
            Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

            wnwd:

            Touché!

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

        I prefer “what (s)he said” to “this”. Same brevity, but not quite as terse and abrupt. Even the one word “ditto” isn’t quite as irritating, for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on.

        • gbjames
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

          Meh. Actually “what (s)he said” is three times less brief than “this”.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:32 am | Permalink

          Probably because ‘this’ doesn’t actually specify approval or disapproval. So it’s meaningless.

          ‘ditto’ or ‘+1′ at least implies approval i.e. ‘I share that view’.

          • gbjames
            Posted January 11, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

            I disagree. “This”, used as we’re discussing, also indicates approval. It is an abbreviated version of “I emphatically agree with this.”

    • Curt Cameron
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      “+1″

      I literally LOL’d.

  2. Stephen Barnard
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Word.

    • pacopicopiedra
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      I’m a big fan of word.

  3. James Walker
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Language changes, so suck it up ;-)

    Redacted by Professor Ceiling Cat

  4. Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    I’ve mentioned this one before: using “myself” instead of “me” in a sentence. For example, “Please contact myself.”

    One word I come across frequently is “persons” instead of “people.” It is annoying.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      How about “me, myself, personally”.

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:28 am | Permalink

        If they are used together then yuck, too many words. Brevity is best.

      • Billy
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        Or when people improperly use “I”. It used to be people would always misuse “me and my cat went to the store…” but the retort of “my cat and I” has steered people the wrong way. This is prolific in pictures. “Joe and I at the pool” instead of the correct “Joe and me.”

        Remember…remove the other person to see if it makes sense is what we were taught in 3rd grade.

      • Andrew D
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

        I belive that this phrase was used originally by a character in a childrens cartoon on the BBC in the 1960′s. That at least is what my memory says. If this was the case, and it was a catchphrase, it would be acceptable in context.

        • jimroberts
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

          It was (also?) used by Seamus Android in “Round the Horne” on BBC radio in the 1960′s. But that was to mock it.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      “myself” – Yep. It reflects badly on the writer…

      /@

      • Merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        Even worse when myself used instead of I…e.g. Myself and my peeps( could not resist:-) called you here today…

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        You have a strong pun-creating reflex.

        • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

          I can’t help I.

          /@

          • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

            You’ll find I tastefully avoid using “myself” my…um…self (dammit) in the other reply I made to you downthread.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      You will love Ben Zimmer’s entry about “myself”.

      • Merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        +1 for Ben Zimmer

    • Curt Cameron
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      “One word I come across frequently is ‘persons’ instead of ‘people.’”

      Something similarly annoying is using “individual” instead of “person” when it doesn’t make sense to do so.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      I was taught that “persons” is the grammatically correct plural of “person.”

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        It is – as in “by person or persons unknown” – but it doesn’t mean “people”.

        /@ 

  5. Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Sub this.

  6. Jonathan Dore
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    “THESE are Peeps.”

    Shouldn’t that be “THIS are Peeps.”?

  7. John Dickinson
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    “On an ongoing/weekly/whateverly basis”

    In other words, ongoing/weekly/whateverly.

    The words “on”, “an” and “basis” are just verbiage.

    • Paul
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      Syntactic sugar: fit for aesthetic purposes, not for getting any point across succinctly.

  8. gbjames
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Can I haz?

    Actually… none of this stuff bothers me much.

  9. darrelle
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    I have long since developed an automatic response to the word “nuance” that is similar to contempt. Maybe not quite that strong, but close.

    It probably has something to do with how frequently religious believers, particularly theologians, egregiously abuse the word. Unfortunately this has kind of spoiled the occasional legitimate use of the word. I have to do a double take and reset my attitude.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      It’s an appropriate word for political discourse. It should only be used in religion sparingly, as the appeal to nuance can be used to cover up conceptual confusion and deepities although there is a legitimate need to be aware of diversity within religious traditions.

      Do gnu atheists have “gnuance”?

      • darrelle
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        I like “gnuance!” Nice one.

        From my perspective the phenomenon of religious belief is very complex, plenty of nuance to go around. But, the religious beliefs themselves? As in “god did it?” Not much nuance there.

  10. Paul
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    “Having said that” irritates me to no end. But the ubiquitous misspelled “you’re” is the worst. It’s indicative of a complete failure of education, when you even get one of the most basic grammatical constructs wrong.

    • Richard
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      And also the variations “That said”, “That being said”. Very annoying.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      Buckle up for my many homophone mistakes. I know the difference but I think because I am very attuned to how things sound (I am an aural learner and I have a good ear for languages) that I occasionally just slip up to my utter disgust.

      • gluonspring
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        I make many of these mistakes also. I think of them as over-delegation mistakes: the higher parts of my brain delegate routine things like spelling, punctuation, and typing itself to some lower part of the brain. This works well enough most of the time at magically translating my thoughts into typed text (my conscious brain has no idea any more where the ‘A’ key is in relation to the ‘P’ key, that’s pure muscle memory), but there are recurring errors, such as homophone errors, that arise from this. When it counts I can catch these in editing but I’ve seen a very large number slip through here.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      I can understand having pet peeves like this, but, “indicative of a complete failure of education?” That is unrealistic. While that is certain to be the case in some instances there are many other causes that lead to misteaks like that. Plenty of times people that make such errors know full well the proper construct, usage, spelling. In other cases people that are very well educated just don’t care about unimportant things like that.

      • JT
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

        I’ve never met a well-educated person who mixed up “your” and “you’re” just because the idea of caring about something like using completely different words correctly was beneath their concern. I suppose such people exist but they’re just probably so cool and aloof they they hang out in those super trendy spots where people like me aren’t welcome.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:35 am | Permalink

          Irony is not dead!

          I suppose if your definition of well-educated includes the requirement of not mixing up “your” and “you’re” then you must be correct.

      • Paul
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        If you structurally mistake “your” and “you’re”, you have not been well educated in the English language. I find this to be an entirely uncontroversial claim. I don’t see how anyone could seriously dispute it. Errare humanum est, sure: I can excuse the occasional typo / thinko.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:48 am | Permalink

          Well, now that you have clarified a bit by reducing the scope of your statement from “well educated” to “well educated in the English language,” and conceded that occasional typos / thinkos are excusable, our opinions on this seem to be pretty close after all.

          But, damn, I was hoping you would say something about my “misteaks!”

  11. Jesper Both Pedersen
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Heathens. Heathens everywhere.

  12. Lurker111
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    I have two major current peeves:

    1. The use of “onto” as if it were a contraction of “on to.” It’s not. IT’S NOT! IT’S N-O-T!!! (I’m even now seeing examples of the use of “on to” when “onto” is called-for. Sheesh!)

    2. The use of “would of” for “would’ve.” Grrr.

    Totally off-topic and Too Good Not to Share:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=3231#comic

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      I don’t understand your objection to “onto”. There are correct uses for both “onto” and “on to.” Compare he moved on to a different town as contrasted with he jumped onto the stage.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

        You may be correct, but from Lurker111′s comment it seemed to me that she / he understood that. The statement in parantheses seems to indicate that.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

          Parentheses, even.

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

          Who uses “onto” as a contraction? It’s impossible. It’s a compound word.

          • darrelle
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            Lurker111 was using the term “contraction” descriptively, not technically. I’m pretty sure, anyway. Only he/she can say for sure.

            He / she is saying that some people “contract” on to down to onto not realizing that they do not mean quite the same thing, and that they do this because they misteakenly think it is a legitimate alternative construction similar to an actual proper contraction.

            • Lurker111
              Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

              Perhaps the terminology is a bit loose. I consider “cannot” sort of a contraction of “can not”. “Compound word” may be a better term, though.

              Of course, if you want to talk compound words, there’s always German. ;)

              Regarding the joining of “on” and “to”–I’ve seen the example, “‘He took the elevator up to the fourth floor.’ We wouldn’t write this as, ‘He took the elevator upto the fourth floor,’ would we? This is particularly evident since ‘upto’ is not _coincidentally_ a word.” I’m quoting the article from memory and may not be 100% here.

    • jimroberts
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      John Bunyan used “of” for “have” in constructions such as “would of”, and as much as we may despise his religious views, he is generally considered a good writer. You may think that what was acceptable in the 17th century may be less so now that our spelling is more standardised, there is no body claiming to be a central authority for English (unlike some less significant languages) , so we may allow ourselves some flexibility, even creativity.

      • Lurker111
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know. Even in Bunyan’s time, how would you diagram or analyze a sentence like, “I would of liked to have slept longer.” “Of” is a preposition today and I think was a preposition then as well. The construction of the sentence makes no sense. If you have an example sentence from one of Bunyan’s books, do post it. I’d be interested.

  13. John K.
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    I want to say that as long as effective communication is going on the specifics don’t matter.

    Still, there are habits that grate at me, too. People who do not know how to use their cell phones and capitalize the first letter of every word in a two paragraph comment is at the top of my list. All caps “shouting”, even for emphasis on a sentence or two, is another. Zero punctuation is yet another.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      And then there are those who haven’t learned to use their shift key at all. I’ve never understood what the point of that was other than to make it hard for people to read what was written.

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        If it’s good enough for E. E. Cummings …

        /@

        • gbjames
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

          I don’t mind it when Archie shows up to comment, but invariably it is someone else. Someone who probably is physically capable of operating two keys at the same time.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:04 am | Permalink

          Damn! You beat me to it!

        • Linda Grilli Calhoun
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

          It was also good enough for Don Marquis.

          Archy the cockroach is one of my all time favorite characters, as is his nemesis Mehitabel the cat. L

  14. Dennis Hansen
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Like. You know? (both of these)

    • Merilee
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Yeah, totally

      • bric
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        This whole thread is like totes amazeballs innit

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          Ha ha! I was contemplating using “totes” but you made it even better by including “amazeballs”.

  15. Howard Neufeld
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Starting a sentence with “which”. Which drives me crazy.

    Forgetting that “data” are plural, although some dictionaries now allow the word to be used in the singular.

    Mixing up “effect” with “affect”, except when you want to effect change and then the “e” word can be a verb.

    Not having the courage to use the word “evolution” when one writes “descent with modification”, as many medical doctors do when writing about various evolutionary topics in medicine.

    I don’t mind ending sentences with “with”, and paraphrasing Winston Churchill (who may or may not have said the original quote), these are things up with which I shall put.

    • Greg Esres
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      “Forgetting that “data” are plural, although some dictionaries now allow the word to be used in the singular.”

      Dictionaries neither allow nor disallow, they document usage. Data has always been documented to be used in the singular or plural for at least 30 years. I’ve been a “singular” person, but I have observed that I’m in the vast minority.

    • jimroberts
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Do you also think that “agenda” are plural?

    • bric
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      The earliest use of ‘data’ as singular in the OED is 1807, by Washington Irving.

  16. Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    In my humble opinion (IMHO) or just in my opinion (IMO) brings out the pugilistic aspect of my personality. If you want to strengthen your writing, leave that phrase out (or I will punch you in your face).

    I used to hate smiley faces also, thinking that it is too something a lazy writer uses. Now I indulge frequently because it shows my own joy which is a feeling often present in me. I still don’t care if you misunderstood whether or not I was serious. :-)

    I recently chose This>>> as a means of admiring a pithy sentence of Jerry’s. My double excuse is that it was the only time I ever used it, and I espoused fully on why his words triggered that response.

    • Greg Esres
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      “I used to hate smiley faces also, thinking that it is too something a lazy writer uses. ”

      This is actually for the benefit of poor readers. So few people are able to pick up irony in writing…

      BTW, I did read an article suggesting that men who use :-) in emails to women are less likely to be answered.

    • pacopicopiedra
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      It’s “too something?” Too what? Or did you mean “it too is something?” :)

  17. gbjames
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Steven Pinker long ago convinced me to stop wording about this kind of thing. Here’s an example.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Sorry. Link failure. How ’bout this…

      http://www.newrepublic.com/article/77732/grammar-puss-steven-pinker-language-william-safire

      • Larry Gay
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:45 am | Permalink

        Pinker hits another home run. This essay makes me want to read his book on English which is rumored to be in the works. I have lots of pet peeves. One is the use of pronouns without clearly specifying the antecedent.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        Thank you gbjames. That Pinker article is one of the best things I’ve read in months.

        I urge all grammar pedants to read the Steven Pinker article gbjames provided a link to in his comment above. Pinker pretty much demolishes the reasons typically given by traditional grammar pedants for taking issue with many of the specific grammar “misteaks” claimed in this thread.

        I’m going to have to set up a big red emergency button on my desktop for direct access to that article.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          My favourite parts of this article are: 1) The title (Grammar Puss) 2) The double negative (because I love it & try to bring it back whenever I can.

          • darrelle
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

            Me too. I LOLed at the title.

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know.

        I’ll grant his overall point that effective communication can be and is achieved despite the breaking of various “rules”.

        But is it really true that most rules are *not* about “clarity, logic, consistency, precision, stability and expressive range”? It seems to me that’s exactly what subject/verb or noun/pronoun agreement, not misplacing a modifier, avoiding double negatives, etc, are all about. I think there are fewer rules that don’t help with Pinker’s list than there are that do.

        • gbjames
          Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:34 am | Permalink

          The point isn’t competing list lengths but that language is organic and evolves, changing the rules as it goes. Thinking of it, as English teachers tend to, as a frozen set of correct and incorrect ways to speak is inevitably a doomed effort.

          • Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

            Of course language evolves.

            But I don’t think that’s Pinker’s point. He seems to me to be trying to show that certain conventions do not actually do the things they purport to do, ie, increase clarity, etc.

            I think many of those conventions do increase clarity, etc. I think it’s telling that Pinker pulls out the “rules” not to split an infinitive, not to end a sentence with a preposition, and to avoid double negatives. I’ve seen him give these same examples of unnecessary “rules” in three or four lectures on YT. I’ll grant that the infinitive and preposition rules could probably go, but his argument would be stronger if he could come up with some others that are as obviously unnecessary or unhelpful in increasing clarity, etc.

            Regarding double negatives: even if we know perfectly well what a speaker means when he says “I didn’t _ no _”, you simply can’t get around the brute fact that it does indeed reduce to the inverse of what the speaker intended. You’d confuse a computer with language like this. Granted, we are not computers, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t try to line up our expression with our intent as closely as possible.

            I also think he’s just wrong about “could/couldn’t care less”. I would bet good money that most people using either expression are doing so with sarcastic undertones. I’d also bet good money that those who say “could” aren’t doing so because they’ve intentionally selected it for its (allegedly) higher sarcasm quotient. They just think that’s the way the phrase goes.

            I don’t think the rules I mentioned in my original comment are about trying to freeze the language; I think they can accomodate evolution just fine. They’ll simply help to avoid confusion along the way.

            • gbjames
              Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

              “Granted, we are not computers, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t try to line up our expression with our intent as closely as possible.”

              Worrying about how people should talk has limited value because people are gonna talk the way they’re gonna talk. And if you can’t understand what they are saying if they use a common double negative then you’ve reduced yourself to the limits of a computer language. I don’t think reading a book by Mark Twain would be very interesting if it were written in Fortran, Python, C++, or PHP.

              • Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

                I could agree more.

                By which, of course, I mean I couldn’t agree more. :)

                Informal, colorful expression has its place, as does formal, precise expression.

              • Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

                I guess my point is not that I’m worrying about how people talk.

                My point is that eschewing rules altogether doesn’t follow from acknowledging that we can understand each other despite imprecise constructions. Indeed, we know what a speaker who uses imprecise constructions means because it’s close enough to the standard for us to assume the speaker’s intent. But for this system to work, the standard has to be there.

              • gbjames
                Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

                I suppose it depends on what “the standard” means. Sure, without rules constraining things there could be no communication and we wouldn’t have this thing we call “language”. But the important rules are implicitly understood by language users without ever taking a class in grammar. The rules in grammar class are derived from observations of real-world speakers (and writers) and by virtue of being “blessed” by English teacher get frozen and gradually become fodder for pedants and language historians.

                Those aren’t the rules that matter to nearly all language users on the planet. People don’t think much about those rules, they just learn them unconsciously while children and generally get along fine throughout their lives, criticizing each other for variations they encounter in the great pool of language use.

                At least that is how it looks to me.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      I don’t word about it either…

      /@

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      There’s a difference between saying “This irritates me”, and “this is wrong.” This thread is largely about the former.

      Also, presumably those who say that “anything goes” in this thread would correct a sentence that said “Your upsetting me!” That is, those who argue that “as long as the meaning is clear then anything goes” would, themselves,avoid using words like “peeps” when they’re writing for publication, or in a job application.

      • gbjames
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:06 am | Permalink

        Context matters. But we’re talking about rather informal Internet comment conversations here, not job applications. No?

        We pretty much all do this stuff.

        • Ken Phelps
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

          As the recipient of hundreds of resumes over the last 35 years, I can assure you that it is not just informal conversation that has lost its technical rigor.

          • Greg Esres
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

            Agreed, but regarding resumes, I think a lot of it has to do with the ease with which amateurs can put together their own resumes, rather than having it done by a professional. And now emailing it is standard, rather than printing on nice paper and snail mailing it.

            • Ken Phelps
              Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

              I miss the printed resume. I used to be able to sniff them and throw out the smokers’ right away.

      • Steve Reilly
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

        Sure, saying “This irritates me” is fine, but claiming that something is the mark of a lazy writer without offering evidence is something else entirely.

        Anyway, I’m not sure that anyone really believes that, “Anything goes” in language, just that most of these pet peeves are chosen arbitrarily. Which is fine, of course, but it’s not really fine to insult the users as lazy for no reason. Or do think that if users of “This” would switch to “I agree” they’d mark themselves as hard-working?

        • Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

          Sorry, but I think it lazy, and if you want evidence, the phrase is often used by bloggers who just regurgitate large chunks of other people’s text and just add “this” after it. That is lazy blogging. And no, I wouldn’t recommend saying “I agree”. You can tell the readers to “have a look at this link” if you want, but I think it behooves a writer to add some value to what other people have said.

          Your comment, by the way, is uncivil and impolite to the host, and I really do suggest you read another website. This host doesn’t like to be told what it’s “fine” to say.

          • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

            Lazy…or efficient?

            The things that irritate me (and many things do) are things that obviously demonstrate a lack of education. Typos are common and don’t really say much about the writer. “Thinkos” like “your” for “you’re” are also common; I’ve committed that mistake myself when typing fast and not thinking carefully.

            Something like “would of” for “would have” or “would’ve” belies the fact that the writer is unaware that it should be “would have”. The writer hasn’t taken the time to invest in learning the language, and that is the lazy thing.

          • PS
            Posted January 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

            Your comment, by the way, is uncivil and impolite to the host, and I really do suggest you read another website. This host doesn’t like to be told what it’s “fine” to say.

            On the other hand, he does like to tell his readers they are lazy, uncivil and impolite at the drop of a hat (if you can interpret the above post as saying what is and is not fine for you, then I don’t see any problems with interpreting your post as telling everyone who happens to read the post that they are lazy).

            Civility, good sir, is a two-way street, at least where I come from.

  18. Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Dude.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      Liberated from an ’80s Rob Schneider bit.

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Interesting. In a similar vein, I noticed a segment from “Orgazmo”(couldn’t find it online… but it is where Joe prays to jesus for a sign that he’s not doing the wrong thing. All hell breaks loose… followed by “any sign… any sign at all”, as Joe ignores all the obvious signs) that was clearly lifted from a Steve Martin 80s bit as well. (The Man With Two Brains) Couldn’t find the relevant clips, though.

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        Ah – here we go:

        any signjust any kind of sign.

  19. Maria
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    I absolutely hate when people reply with a “k” for okay. At least write, “ok”. (That annoys me too but not as much.) I also cannot stand the overuse of the ellipsis. Some writers use it in place of a period . . . :)

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      The use of “K” for “OK” bothers me a bit but I use it on my phone because it’s just faster when I’m multi tasking (not driving though).

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Och aye!

    • pacopicopiedra
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Does it bother you when people say, “k” out loud instead of ok? People do that all the time and I think it’s generally accepted, so why not the written version? Unless the spoken version also bothers you, in which case, at least you’re being consistent.

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        Que?

        • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

          Sorry. Make that:
          ¿Que?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

          Manuel from Fawlty Towers didn’t know how in front of the trend he was!

          • merilee
            Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

            but then he was from Barcelona….

  20. Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Misplaced “only”.

    /@

  21. Occam
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    My nickname, derived from my once favourite but now almost defunct programming language, obliges me to point out that ’this’ could be a perfectly valid self-referential keyword in a number of programming languages, erroneously inserted into a comment field.

    For example, the JavaScript statement
    var that = this;
    would be a perfectly valid variable declaration within an object call in a nested function.

    Also, if one asks which French commune in the Ardennes carries two golden trout on its coat of arms, counts 213 inhabitants, is located at 49°45′0″N, 4°36′33.84″E and is presently administrated by maire Marie-Odile Ponsart, the only correct answer is:
    This.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      Using “coat of arms” for the arms themselves (or for the whole achievement: shield, helmet, crest, supporters, &c.) rather than for a surcoat emblazoned with the arms.

      ;-)

      /@

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        Or saying ‘descended from’ for related to, or talking about someone being an ancestor when they jst mean a (distant) relative.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 11, 2014 at 2:26 am | Permalink

      I detect the sound of goalposts shifting. I think it’s kinda cheating to substitute a foreign name. Kinda clever, though :)

  22. Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    “What he/she/they said” is another lazy ass way of commenting without adding anything to the discussion.
    Which, having said that, is, like, not actually you’re point is it? You know?

  23. Taz
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    It’s starting to bug me when people use the one-word sentence “Sigh” to start their comment.

    • Occam
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Alas.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        and weylaway. :)

    • pacopicopiedra
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      I agree. “Meh” is also played out and needs to be dropped.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

        I originally didn’t like “meh” but now I do because I think it uses such an economy of words to accurately express my complete apathy toward whatever I apply it to.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 11, 2014 at 2:21 am | Permalink

          Duh.
          ;)

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 11, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink

            :) I like duh too.

  24. Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Failure to use plural after ‘their’ of some other plural. Mind is often a word that this happens with.
    “We must try to change their mind” – the correct form would be minds. Each individual has a mind – there is no collective hive mind. It is a difference between countables & non-countables. Like the difference between cheese & cheeses. (I understand those hypersensitive to sexist language wanting to use ‘their’ instead of ‘his or her’ but that is a separate issue.)

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      “Less” instead of “fewer”.

      /@

      • Merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        Sub

      • Rod
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        My old English teacher back in the 60s used to say: If you can pour it, use the word less, if you can count it, use the word fewer.

        • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          Yes! But not everything uncountable can be poured. Less traffic; fewer vehicles.

          /@

        • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

          Not your Old English teacher?! Mine was UCL’s Richard North…

          • pacopicopiedra
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

            My Old English teachers were Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre…or were we not talking about malt liquor?

        • Lurker111
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

          When it’s countable, “fewer” does roll off the tongue better than “less.” And I try to use “fewer” whenever appropriate. However, I’d feel better about using “fewer” if there were a corresponding “morer.” ;)

        • Vaal
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

          There’s fewer money to go around these days.

          How’d I do?

          Vaa

    • darrelle
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      Hey! No need to bring religion into it!

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        Cheeses wept! Probably because they were poorly kept – I suggest a larder…

  25. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Comma splices and general misuse of semi colons. Just don’t use them if you don’t know how. I’ve recently started screwing these up myself.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Ah! In this case I would suggest semi colonic irrigation! :)

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Nice! I’ll remember that one!

  26. Gauss
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Adding “out” and “up” everywhere.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      “Out” is what Harold II’s men shouted at Hastings (well, ‘ut’) – shows how much good it does using it!

  27. Karl Heinz
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    “That being said….”

    Starting sentences with “so”.

    Uptalk – ending sentences with a tonal inflection that sounds like a question.

    Confusing irritate with aggravate.

    Using literally when one means figuratively.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      Yeah, that literally drives me crazy.

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        I figured it would…

        /@

        • darrelle
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          Wow. This is about the fifth time I’ve scrolled past this comment today . . .

          AND I FINALLY GOT IT!!!11!

          Sometimes I can be really dense.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      Starting sentences with “so” is an interesting one and when Richard Dawkins tweeted a question “why do so many Americans start a sentence with ‘so’”, Bob MacDonald, the host of the CBC science show Quirks and Quarks tweeted back the answer, noting that the “so” phenomenon includes Canadians as well.

      If you go to this episode of Quirks and Quarks and scroll down to the paragraph below, you can listen to the explanation. It appears that “so” is a verbal marker that the listener needs to listen for an extended period of time as what’s coming is long. Many of the scientists on the program started their answers with “so” for this reason.

      Fact or Fiction: “So…”

      Many of our listeners have written in over the past couple of years with the same observation: our guests often seem to begin their sentences with the word “so.” We reviewed some of our past shows and found that, indeed, we have hosted a lot of so-sayers. So…we decided to look into it. Dr. Maite Taboada, an associate professor of linguistics at Simon Fraser University, explains why people tend to start their sentences with this particular particle.

      • Merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        I’ve just started to notice ( and be bugged by) this So business in the last 6 mnnths or so. It’s generally used by younger commentators, but I fear it may be catching on among among my generation as well.

        • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

          Scientists are the worst for this usage it seems to me. I first noticed it however in ‘CSI’ – when they have to give some exposition of a bit of technical stuff that they would never say in a real life situation.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            Look for my reason above for the use of “so”. It makes sense in this context and would not be written unless writing informally (like in an email).

            • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

              as in an email

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

                My usage stands (especially since it has been in use for approximately 100 years).

                More details from this web site. Excerpt here:

                When to Use Like, When to Use As
                The proper way to differentiate between like and as is to use like when no verb follows (2). For example, Squiggly throws like a raccoon or Aardvark acted just like my brother. Notice that when I use like, the words that come after are generally simple. A raccoon and my brother are the objects of the preposition.

                If the clause that comes next includes a verb, then you should use as. For example, Squiggly throws as if he were a raccoon or Aardvark acted just as I would expect my brother to behave. Notice that when I use as, the words that come after tend to be more complex.

                You generally hear like used in everyday speech, so that helps me remember that like is the simpler word—or at least it is followed by simpler words. As sounds stuffier and is followed by a more complex clause that contains a verb.

                - See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/like-versus-as#sthash.vtZ04aUS.dpuf

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        Huh.

        Dawkins raised that issue on his site (the VASTLY SUPERIOR old site) a few years ago. In the comments it seemed to be the majority opinion that “so” indicates an implied prior conversation – that what you’re hearing now could conceivably be a continuation and we’ve picked it up in medias res. It therefore also implies familiarity.

        • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

          (…and therefore, an informal tone, which you noted.)

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

            Interesting. I tend to use it how the linguist described it when I’m answering a question that is somewhat involved or requires some background story. I catch myself writing it in casual conversation and stop because they don’t need a audible clue – they can see my explanation is long by the amount of words before them.

            • Posted January 11, 2014 at 1:08 am | Permalink

              /number/ of words. Countable. Goes with “fewer”.

              amount of /text/. “Pourable”. (Well, text /flows/.) Goes with “less”.

              You’re welcome.

              /@

    • darrelle
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      With many of these things, like starting a sentence with “So,” I think the authors are attempting to write as they would speak. It seems for most people that when writing vs speaking they use different constructions. But, particularly in written conversations like this, I think some people try to write as they would speak. This leads to all kinds of grammatically incorrect constructions.

      Just in case it isn’t clear, I’m speaking from personal experience. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

    • brotheryam
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      In colloquial Minnesotan English, there is a “So, then” clause, e.g., “So, that your dogsled, then?” This is used as a de-emphasis of the interrogative, a softening of the question as to not demand an answer, or to state an obvious fact during a conversation.

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        Is that a Scandinavian influence on English?

        • ladyatheist
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          They can’t throw down their gauntlets because they’ll get frostbite, so they avoid fighting at all costs.

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        Ja, sure.

        As a Minnesotan and a Scandinavian I can attest to the fact that our conversations do indeed consist, in large part, of stating the obvious. Possibly phrased as a question, with the “so, then” construction. We just can’t come up with much else. Chit-chat is not out forte. In a book titled: “Scandinavian Humor, and Other Myths”, the Scandinavian god of conversation is named “Comatose”.

  28. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Oh – one that drives me crazy. I don’t mind “thx” for “thanks” but I worked with someone who would write “thnks” or “thnx”. The first one just looks like you forgot the “a” & the second one is just weird.

  29. Gauss
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Saying “There’s two things …”

    It’s everywhere: TV newscasters, even President Obama.

    Why?

    • gbjames
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      Because there’s more than one and fewer than three?

      • Merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        Should be there’re!!

  30. Chrysoprase
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    The use of to leverage as a verb has become very annoying in my line of work. It’s particularly bad when people use it to describe a simple pooling of resources or the use of some perceived advantage to obtain an end (eg he leveraged the other project’s resources or she leveraged her knowledge of).

    This is both horrible language and a tacit admission of ignorance as to what a lever is.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      American Heritage, Random House, and Merriam-webster all allow it as a verb, and M-W states its first usage as such is 1957. Still, it grates a bit, because no one uses advantage or dotage as verbs. -age is supposed to be a suffix turning a verb into a noun.

      • Achrachno
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        I dotaged my seniority and took over the whole operation.

        Hmmmm.

        No, I don’t see that catching on.

    • ruhua
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Yet another instance of management-speak that makes me want to sock the person in the face.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      ‘To source’, rather than get, find etc.

      ‘To gift’, rather than than give. A gift is that which is given.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

        And “to loan”, rather than “to lend”. A loan is that which is lent.

  31. Linda Grilli Calhoun
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I wish people would learn to use apostrophes correctly.

    I also wish that the “chic” use of a period where there should be a comma would go away.

    If you’ve never read Lynne Truss’ “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves”, I highly recommend it. It’s hilarious. Even though it’s now ten years old, it’s more timely than ever. L

    • Barry Lyons
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      Shortly after the Truss book came out, Louis Menand wrote a devastating review of it for The New Yorker. You may want to look that up. Wow, what a demolition job that was! Whew.

      Also, I prefer: Lynne Truss’s book (I don’t like the dropped ess: Jesus’s 12 fan boys, not Jesus’ 12 fan boys).

      • bric
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        While we are being pedantic, the book is called ‘Eats, Shoots & Leaves’

  32. Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Just saying.

    • Marlon
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Know what I’m saying?

    • Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      “Do unto others that which you would have others do unto you.”

      Now that’s a just saying.

  33. Chrysoprase
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Athiest or weiner grate on my nerves a lot.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      I don’t understand that sentence, which bothers me.

      • Larry Gay
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        It is probably intended to be humorous, but the writer lacks the courage to be direct and clear.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      But what do you say when one thing is more athy than all others?

      /@

  34. Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Worst neologism: “going forward”.

    “Currently” can almost always be left out.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      I agree with you. “Going forward” can go away for as much as I care.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      A similar one I don’t like, “at the end of the day”.

  35. Grania Spingies
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Mostly these little trends don’t bother me until they start being used all the time by all the people. Luckily most of them die a natural death after a short moment of “fame”.
    My pet peeve is the over-used rhetorical phrase “let us not forget” (I growl: you may have forgotten, but how dare you assume that I did). Also the use of faux archaic words such as methinks and thusly, especially by people who have never read a single Shakespeare play in their lives because it wasn’t cool enough for them at school.

  36. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I cringe a little with “correct me if I’m wrong” though I’ve used it myself (while cringing). I don’t like it because it’s redundant and confusing. Of course I’ll correct you and why would I correct you if you were right.

    I understand the intent of the sentence; it’s saying “if I’m wrong, I won’t take offence if you correct me” and this is why I’ve used it on occasions (while cringing).

    • Greg Esres
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      I see it as a stratagem to weaken criticism, thus a sign of insecurity. Since it undermines whatever follows, I never use it or like phrases. It’s your job to undermine what I say, not my own.

      • Achrachno
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        Is it not just an attempt to not appear to be an arrogant SOB? An expression of willingness to change opinions.

        • Greg Esres
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

          “Is it not just an attempt to not appear to be an arrogant SOB? An expression of willingness to change opinions.”

          Expressing one’s views with confidence is not arrogance, although some people are intimidated by confidence and might infer arrogance. You can’t live your life in fear of those people.

          A willingness to change opinions should be assumed and rarely needs to be stated explicitly. People that do that a lot undermine their own credibility.

          There are other ways to express your degree of confidence in your views without verbally cringing before your conversational partners.

          • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

            “A willingness to change opinions should be assumed and rarely needs to be stated explicitly.”

            Really? Not in my experience. But then my experience does involve a lot of judgmental, authoritarian assholes, which may not be the norm.

  37. Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Somewhere someone is (hopefully) dying a slow painful death for hijacking “effort” as a verb. I hear it most often in interview situations on radio and television, but I have heard it in the corporate world as well.

    “We’re efforting Joe Schmo for his opinion on today’s top stories.”

    “Bill’s got some great sales ideas, we’re efforting the numbers from accounting to see if they will work!”

    I loathe these people. Effort is an abstract noun, not a toy for your diseased vocabulary.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      I bet you like “effortful” too, huh?

    • Karl Heinz
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      I remember my sister’s persnickety English teacher saying that “hopefully” is not quite the same as “it is hoped” (which most people mean when they right “hopefully”.

    • Merilee
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      Thank Ceiling Cat I have yet to hear that verb:-(

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      What?

      I’m totally unclear what action “efforting” is meant to denote.

  38. Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    This! A thousand times this!

  39. Greg Esres
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Anywho.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      That works pretty well in some episodes involving time lords.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      I don’t like “anywho” either. I feel the same way about “pardon my French” when someone swears. I’m sure it once had a funny meaning, but it’s been lost and the saying has worn out its welcome (like “anywho”). Let’s move on and think of new jokes.

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        Hmm… I thought it was “anyhoo”, a contrived mispronunciation of “anyhow”. No?

        /@

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

          It may be but I’ve mostly only heard it. It’s still annoying.

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:10 am | Permalink

          Aye.

  40. Aj
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    The two which really boil my piss are when people end declarations of opinion with the phrase “just saying”, or even worse, “end of [discussion]”.

    The first is inane, especially on the internet (what, you thought we were expecting you to do an interpretive dance as well?), the second is bloody arrogant.

    • Richard Olson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      I’ve never heard ‘boil my piss’ before, and I really like it.

  41. Barry Lyons
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    I still can’t stand seeing “less” when people mean “fewer”.

    Yes: “anywho” greatly annoys.

    • Achrachno
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      I think that started out as “a funny” and caught on bit too strongly.

  42. Greg Esres
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    In high school in the 70s, the thing to say with deep seriousness was

    “This is true.”

    The current usage of “this” seems to be a remnant of that.

  43. Jim Thomerson
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Whether inplies are not. I don’t know whether she will like it, for example.

  44. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Oh! I’ve got another one: when people spell “led” wrong. The past tense of “to lead” is “led”. Lead is the metal.

    I know this well because my high school Latin teacher used to slap my hand if I made that mistake in a translation.

    • Rod
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Diana… Our Latin teachers certainly instilled a respect for language and usage that is sadly missed today.

      • gbjames
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        I must have had bad Latin teachers.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

          It’s possible. Mine was feisty and didn’t let me get away with anything.

          My university Greek professors were also very knowledgable about English and I swear I probably learned more from them than my English classes.

        • Rod
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

          Maybe you were a plumbum oscillans.

  45. Doug
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Writing “loose” for “lose,” “it’s” for “its,” or “lay” for “lie.”
    “Literally” used to mean its opposite.
    “The media is.”
    Adults who use baby-talk for parts of the anatomy or bodily functions.

    • Greg Esres
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      “The media is.”

      Nothing wrong with that, in the same way you’d say “fifty dollars is too much,”, rather than “fifty dollars are too much”.

      Merriam-Webster discussion:

      The singular media and its plural medias seem to have originated in the field of advertising over 70 years ago; they are still so used without stigma in that specialized field. In most other applications media is used as a plural of medium. The popularity of the word in references to the agencies of mass communication is leading to the formation of a mass noun, construed as a singular . This use is not as well established as the mass-noun use of data and is likely to incur criticism especially in writing.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      I remember Asimov highlighting that kind of baby-talk with the example of the lady who exclaimed, “Shit! I’ve stood in some doggie poo-poo!”

      /@

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      “it’s” for “its” will be the standard one day. It’s analogous to “Jerry’s” and “it’s” already exists. “Her’s” will follow closely afterward.

  46. vall
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    “Baby bump” used to describe a pregnant woman.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      The bump is the baby, not the woman. We don’t have a word for the bulge that we see when a woman is pregnant, so why not use “baby bump?”

  47. Richard Jones
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I was about to post the same peeves as Doug. “it’s” rather than “its” is endemic on comment boards. As is also the confusion of “then’ and “than”.

  48. still learning
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    “Impact” used as a verb and the misuse of “reign” and “rein”.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      Ooh.

      I got into it about 4 years ago with another commenter here on the “impact” issue. I was of your opinion, but he won. “Impact” as a verb goes way back.

  49. Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Not sure why, but it bothers me when I ask someone if the want/need anything and they respond “I’m good.”

  50. Robert Seidel
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    A friend of mine absolutely hates the german “ausdrücken”, which means “to express”. when you pick it apart, it’s in both languages a dead metaphor literally (figuratively?) meaning “to squeeze (oneself) out” – he just finds that metaphor not poetically pleasing.

    I myself (incidentally, I know of a text from the 1920′s condemning the phrase “I myself”) abhor the word “dragonfly”. I hate it. Such magnificent creatures, and what do you anglophones do? “Uh, it’s flying, but it’s no fly, it’s some sort of big fly, like … like a dragon fly.” I hate it.

  51. alexandra moffat
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    The most loathsome:

    Pass away instead of die

    • gbjames
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      I always make a point of saying “die” instead of “pass away”. I know it annoys people though.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        Me too. That euphemism is repugnant to me but I can see that my stark realism in avoiding the euphemism is shocking to some.

        • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

          “Rest in peace” doesn’t sit well with me because it implies that the deceased somehow still exists. I don’t know what I’d replace it with, though.

          • gbjames
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

            “RIP” (just the letters) is a little better since it comes closer “s(he) has died”. Or at least I like to pretend that this is the case.

            • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:01 am | Permalink

              It’s a little better, but still has the same problem. Maybe something like “in fond memory” would be better.

          • Doug
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

            “Rest in pieces.”

    • ROO BOOKAROO
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Agreed. Absolutely unbearable.
      The metaphor is used, I guess, as a residue of the influence of pervasive Christian feelings, according to which the speaker cannot admit to the fact of dying. Which implies the fiction that there is no death, just passing away to another level of existence, in the clouds, where we all will reunite with our loved ones. This phony image has been stamped by Christian preaching into all corners of our culture, but, as the churches are slowly emptying, its cultural hold is also slowly waning, even if it remains a literary cliché.

  52. ruhua
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    “Relevancy”, “competency”, etc. instead of their original, one-fewer-syllable spelling….make my blood pressure spike whenever I see them.

    I had never encountered these abominations until the third year in university, in a “human resource and management” module. I’d bet dollar-to-donuts they originated in management-speak, coined by pretentious, vacuous wankers to give their talk an illusion of intellect and substance. Ugh.

    • didymos
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Well, you’d lose that bet. According to the OED, “relevancy” in the general sense of “relevance” goes back to at least 1678, and “competency” in the sense of competence to 1600 (from Shakespeare, no less). In fact, both “relevance” and “competence” have much later first attestations (in the 1790s). I.e., they’re the latecomers and probably annoyed the hell out of someone back in the late 18th century.

      • didymos
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Oopa, Re: “competency”, I had the wrong sence. Turns out both “competence” and “competency” first attestations are in the 1790s (1790 and 1797 respectively. Also, both attestations are from the same person: Edmund Burke.

        • ruhua
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          Dang, I stand corrected then. Now how can I purge those words from our collective history.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:02 am | Permalink

            Still, they’re a longer more pompous-sounding equivalent of a perfectly good slightly shorter word, and as such a sign (IMO) of pretentiousness.

  53. Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Yes, “I’m good” for “I’m well” –– I wonder whether it comes from the Germanic influence on American English (“gut” is both adjective and adverb).

    One that really does irritate me is the near-universal American presumption that “grade” as in “fifth grade” or “seventh grade” means something in the English language. It does not. It is a parochial American convention (like “peeps” for marshmallows, by the way). If you want to convey roughly how old a child is, say it in years since birth, then you’ll be universally understood.

    • natalielaberlinoise
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      I lived for a few years in London, and it was uncomprehensible to me why my British friends, when asked at a dinner whether they would like to have seconds (yes, there’s another one), would reply with the words: “I’m good.” I stumbled over that phrase repeatedly. Had anyone implied that they were not good? It would have helped to say “no, thank you, I am good”, but that addition was never forthcoming. My half German brain couldn’t understand that leider.

    • merilee
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      I agree 100% with your dislike of “I’m good”, but 5th grade does mean something to 300 million English speakers.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:04 am | Permalink

        Doesn’t to me. What age is ’5th grade’? What’s wrong with ’15-year-old’ (or whatever it means…)

        • gbjames
          Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:37 am | Permalink

          Nothing is wrong with “15-year-old”. But it doesn’t mean the same thing as “5th grade”. Despite the fact that folk from the UK my not be familiar with how US (and Canadaian?) school organization, they don’t own the language. UK writers/speakers often reference (for example) “forth form” or “A levels”. Should they be expected to stop doing so?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:48 am | Permalink

            I’d say “fourth form” (it has a ‘u’ in British English) or “A levels” would be entirely valid IF referring to school-related topics – as would “5th grade” in a US context. But when they’re out of school, and particularly if addressing an international audience, I think stating their ages is likely to be more meaningful. The USA is not the whole world, much as various ‘World’ sporting series would seem to imply.

            Mention of which leads me to – I always get irritated at Steve Gould’s bland assumption that everyone reading his biology books is intimately familiar with all aspects of baseball lore.

            • gbjames
              Posted January 11, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

              We all write from our own cultural points of view. It will be a long time before the planet is homogenized enough to make all references equally comprehendible all over the world. The variations don’t bother me, in fact I rather like it. I enjoy being able to detect where a writer is from by noticing what kind of cultural referents s(he) uses. How about this deal: you stop stressing out over baseball references and I’ll not worry when I read a reference to a football pitch.

              • Merilee
                Posted January 11, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

                Or a sticky wicket:-)

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 11, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

                I don’t stress out over baseball references, I just don’t like them in a book that’s supposed to be about something else entirely. And they’re not just one-line phrases, IIRC – Gould makes extended baseball analogies, repeatedly.

                If Richard Dawkins had written paragraphs about football or cricket into The Greatest Show on Earth I would consider that equally inappropriate.

                (Note: I’m using ‘inappropriate’ in its correct sense there, not as some weaselly PC euphemism for ‘indecent’ – another of my niggles by the way).

            • Merilee
              Posted January 11, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

              That kind of fourth has a u in American English, too. Sally forth does not.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

                Yes, I know. Unlike other ‘..our’ words that lose their ‘u’ in American English.

                I was just being a bit facetious about a misprint – “forth form”.

              • gbjames
                Posted January 12, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

                Also, the typo version of “fourth” is missing the “u”.

    • josh
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      “Peeps” doesn’t mean marshmallows. A peep is a specific, brand name marshmallow-based confection.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      “I’m good” or “He’s doing good”, etc. is particularly irritating because most southerners, even newscasters, in the U.S. use it a norm. Why? Is grammar not being taught in those southern states?

      • merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        I fear that grammar is not being taught very much or well anywhere in North America (and maybe particularly not down South).

      • lisa parker
        Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        You people have got to stop these nasty generalizations about Southerners. Any one who lives here knows that we are not stupid yokels. I have seen teachers (nuns are best because they can hit you with a ruler) jump all over anyone who makes a grammatical error. To this day I will correct a speaker’s grammar, mostly unconsciously. People find it very annoying.

  54. Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    The intentional use of the word “um” is a pet peeve of mine. It seems to be used as a sarcastic way of making people who disagree with the writer look stupid, but it just makes it harder for me to take the person who uses it seriously.

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Or duh.

  55. dale
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    “Reason Why”

    It is redundant.

  56. Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    The use of “believe” as a noun is now rife on Twitter, as in “Those who hold Christian believes”. I used to think it was only non-native speakers, but it has now reached epidemic frequency and I am starting to wonder.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      That may be part auto-correct malfunction. At least I hope it is.

      • JohnnieCanuck
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:57 am | Permalink

        The next thing to watch out for may be common auto-correct errors becoming new usages, just as Qwerty keyboards have given us ‘teh’ and the like.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Yes, and when someone writes “loose” when s/he means “lose”, I loose interest in whatever might follow!

  57. Winsor Crosby
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    My major usage irritant is the almost universal misuse, by people who are paid to talk or write, of the word less when fewer is the correct word to represent a reduction in numbers rather than amount. They are not synonymous.

    A close second is the increasing use(utilization!) of simplistic when the meaning they are striving for is represented by the word simple.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      I hate it when people use “less” instead of “minus,” as in 25 less 3 is 22. I don’t know why that bothers me so much. Also, “treble” instead of “triple.”

      • Charles
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        Suggest you look up the definition of the word “treble.”

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      My major usage irritant is the almost universal misuse, by people who are paid to talk or write, of the word less when fewer is the correct word to represent a reduction in numbers rather than amount.

      Yes, this drives me crazy. I’ve even heard NPR reporters misuse “less” in this way.

  58. scott
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I make a point of never reading a book if the phrase ‘tour de force’ is used anywhere on the cover.

    • Dermot C
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Nor a novel exclusively written in the historic present – the tense of the garden fence gossip and the pub bore.

      ‘Wolf Hall’: 650 pages of it. Give me strength.

      Slaínte.

      • merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Wonderful book no matter what the tense!!

        • Dermot C
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          Merilee,

          I read ‘Wolf Hall’ when I was ill and so in a sense captive, but never captivated; it was a page-turner in that I wanted to get to the end. Who doesn’t want to finish a book that they have started?

          It was brilliantly researched: Mantel really knows her stuff. But I thought that the decision to use the historic present was a structural error. All too common nowadays, the historic present is obviously an attempt to render a tale immediate, visceral and inherently fascinating: like the tense we drop into in speech when we want to involve our friends in an enthralling anecdote. That’s why we use it sparingly, to draw attention to the nitty-gritty.

          Dickens wrote two historical novels, ‘Barnaby Rudge’ and ‘A Tale of Two Cities’: in neither of which he used the historic present. Because, I suspect, he knew it would be grating. Admittedly, he was doing a slightly different thing, that is, setting a novel in a historical locale; whereas Mantel was attempting a far more historically ‘true’ narrative. (By the way, there is an early mistake in the book where she drops into the past tense for two paragraphs – the copy-writer should have spotted that).

          I suppose many modern novelists feel free to write historical novels because they observe that many modern historians lack imagination in their interpretation of the past: novelists believe that historians do not show how people in the past felt about their predicament before they had the historian’s benefit of hindsight. This may be an implied criticism of modern top-down historical writing. And it is probably true.

          If every current historian were as imaginative and creative as E.P.Thompson, who brilliantly reimagined the mind-set of the late 1700s and early 1800s English working class, then maybe good writers like Hilary Mantel would be seeking their inspiration elsewhere.

          Slaínte.

          • merilee
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

            Dermot -
            I didn’t find the tense grating at all. The thing which was a little bit confusing was the very frequent use of “he”, often without antecedent. It really took getting into the rhythm before one could figure out who “he” was
            referring to in every instance. There also about 10 Thomases…

            • Dermot C
              Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:47 am | Permalink

              Agreed on the confusing use of personal pronouns. That was a weird decision on Mantel’s part.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:10 am | Permalink

        Damon Runyon got away with it – but then Runyon’s language was highly distinctive and practically unique to him. Either you love it or you just don’t read Runyon.

        • Dermot C
          Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:52 am | Permalink

          Yeah, I love Runyon. The difference is that they are short stories, in a familiar style and the use of the present continuous mimics immigrant English.

          Runyon uses the tense as a punchy and deliberate comic effect: Mantel had a completely different intention in deciding on a tense normally associated with the informal. And her subject matter is high politics – a mismatch.

          Slaínte.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:11 am | Permalink

            Wondering how the ‘present continuous’ (a la Runyon) contrasts with the ‘historic present’. So far as I can deduce after a quick Google, they’re both the same (present) tense syntactically, just used in slightly different contexts?

            • Dermot C
              Posted January 12, 2014 at 3:24 am | Permalink

              Bullet pointy reply: I’m in the recording studio.

              Present continuous = I am thinking, Nathan… etc.

              Present historic in Mantel = King Henry looks at Thomas…

              Cheers.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 12, 2014 at 4:05 am | Permalink

                Ah. OK, they’re different. I was wrong.

                Present continuous is the construction with ‘to be’ plus a present participle (?) – i.e. ongoing situation.

                Present historic uses the simple present tense to refer to a past event.

                I think…

              • Dermot C
                Posted January 12, 2014 at 5:08 am | Permalink

                Yup.

  59. Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Awesome.

  60. Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    “With regards to” instead of “With regard to.” It presumably comes from “Please give my regards to . . .”

    • gbjames
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Or simply “regarding”.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Related to that one – “alls I’m saying” instead of “all I’m saying”!

      • merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        aarghh!

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        Not to be confused with “I’m just saying…” which is awesome. That was for you, Dawkins;)

  61. Jeff D
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    As a lawyer, I was trained to dislike and to avoid the verb “deem” in all its forms.

    In legislation, contracts, wills, trusts, and other legal documents, the use of “deem” indicates the power of inertia (re-using instead of de-lousing and updating old verbiage), or laziness, or imprecise thinking. The professor who trained me said “‘Deem’ is the first refuge of a scoundrel draftsman.”

    The use of “deem” is almost always a sloppy or dishonest maneuver, where the reader or the citizen or a party to a contract are asked or expected to treat X as if it has attribute Y, even if it doesn’t. When combined with the passive voice and what I call the “false imperative” use of “shall” (“shall be deemed to be”), the use of “deem” can trigger serious problems, because it may not be clear who is permitted to do the “deeming.”

    When I am revising someone else’s draft of a document, I routinely use 2 or 3 words to replace “deem,” just as I routinely use 3 or 4 words to replace the archaic-sounding and imprecise “hereof,” “hereunder,” “herein,” “hereinafter,” etc.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Hey, that’s not fair. We’re talking about English usage not Legalese! ;)

      • Jeff D
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        Good point. At its worst, “legalese” bears only a slight resemblance to English.

  62. brotheryam
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    There is a spoken tic that has formed recently that I find annoying. If someone agrees with your statement, they declare assent with the phrase, “I know, right?” What are you asking me? I don’t know if you know and if you aren’t sure, DON’T SAY ANYTHING.

    Aaaargh…

  63. Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    “I’m feeling poorly.” I hate that. It sounds like you are describing a deficiency in your tactile sense.

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Or the opposite – I’m feeling well (or I’m well). I know a few people may be speaking specifically of their health, but most people really mean good and are just overcompensating for the fact that too many people use good as a adverb.

  64. Barry Lyons
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Here’s something that bugs the crap out of me: this inane use of appending “gate” to another word to signal a scandal. I’m referring today to Gov. Chris Christie’s bridge scandal.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      I hadn’t yet heard it called “Bridgegate,” but it’s hard to imagine something more awful… though it’s tempting to try….

      Mayor of New York tries to sell stolen goods: FENCEGATE!

      or

      Governor of Florida releases reptiles into opponent’s hotel room: GATORGATE!

  65. Karl Heinz
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    This complaint is not really specifically language related, but there are too many 1-sentence paragraphs in newspaper stories; even in the NYT.

    This internet thing seems to be wreaking havoc with our ability to concentrate.

  66. Occam
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Ausdrücken may be a neologism coined after the Latin exprimere, matching “Ausdruck” for expressio. The oldest reference I find is Luther’s translation for expressis verbis, “mit ausgedruckten Worten”.
    “Ausgedruckt” was gradually replaced in the 18th century by “ausdrücklich”.

    • Occam
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Sorry, WordPress seems to have misplaced my comment.
      This is a reply to Robert Seidel at #50.

      • Robert Seidel
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        According to the Grimm Wörterbuch, you’re right: http://woerterbuchnetz.de/DWB/?lemma=ausdruecken

        Different etymology, then, and the dead metaphor is “as if stated in a book”. I will tell my friend, but I think he’ll claim that the association is still there.

  67. Marlon
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    “Twice as few” Does that mean half as many?
    “Three times less” Does that mean a third as many?
    “Five times smaller” Huh?
    Grrrr!

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      or “80%” fewer, when they mean (I think) 20%

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:14 am | Permalink

        “99% pure” in adverts. (If I recall rightly, raw sewage such as you find running down main sewers is 99% (pure) water).

  68. David Thompson
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    They have chocolate peppermint Peeps now.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Double gross…LOL

      • merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        gag me with a spoon

  69. Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    “For free.” It’s accepted widely and abused frequently.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:23 am | Permalink

      Yes, “free” is short for “free of charge”, so the “for” makes no sense.

      • Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        Thank you. I’m feeling less like Diogenes now knowing I’m not alone in my grammatical idiosyncrasies.

  70. Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    15 items or less

  71. Max
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    “Said” is way overused, as in: “I went to the store and bought a new coffee mug, then immediately went home and used said mug.”

    And I’m VERY tired of: “I for one welcome our new ___ overlords.”

    You’ll see that in comments for articles about robots, a new and weird insect, etc. It is not clever and it’s never been funny. Yet I’m confident that the people who write it are “totes LOLing” at their wit.

  72. James Walker
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    “Certaynly it is harde to playse euery man by cause of dyuersite & chaunge of langage.” William Caxton (1490)

  73. Richard Olson
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I just finished listening to a podcast (Naked Scientists 14.01.07) and copied this bit of statement by host Dave: “So, I’m going to be trying to build a jet-powered boat, using a sort-of half-liter bottle …”. “So” has been addressed today. I hear “sort of” and it’s contraction on a lot of audio science programs I listen to.

    I may dislike this almost as much as I dislike declarative sentences tonally rendered as questions. And the Tea Party. Well, perhaps with that last one I exaggerate.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      I hate it when I catch myself saying “sort of”.

  74. jimroberts
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    > Please, no comments to the effect of “language evolves, so everything is okay”

    Language evolves, so some things that were OK aren’t OK any more.

    • James Walker
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      +1

    • Robert
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      ^

      • Robert
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        I was going to whine and say “but what if my pet peeve is people who have pet peeves about language? Can’t I rant too?” But I like your reply much beter jimroberts.

        • Robert
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          PS I actualyl do have pet peeves about language though, just not sure I can come up with one that hasn’t been mentioned.

  75. Charles
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    The phrase “looking to” as in “looking to sell my house” or “looking to buy a car.”

  76. religionenslaves
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Slightly off-topic but the biggest linguistic bugbear of mine is the California lilt – the ascending tone turning an affirmative sentence into an interrogative one. Why does it bother me? For two reasons, one aesthetic, the other substantive. Spoken English (as spoken by English people) used to be a beautifully modulated language, where the subtle use of intonation and cadences would add meaning and nuances. More importantly, the California lilt makes almost impossible the use of subordinate sentences (not enough breath), turning speech into a boring sequence of main clauses, often of the apodictic variety. End of rant.

    P.S. “providing” instead of “provided”.

    • Nick
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Why do you call it the “California lilt”? The populations I have most noticed it in are Canadians and Australians. Valley girl usage is fairly recent.

      • merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        Yes! I’m a California native and neither I nor any of my family or friends speaks Valley Girl. I hear that up-talk just as much here in Canada as anywhere else. I find that a lot of the young women have gone from that up-talk to a kind of gravelly voice in the back of their throats. Not sure what that’s about, unless they’ve overcompensated.

        • religionenslaves
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

          I thought that California lilt was in common use. No derogatory meaning was intended.

          • merilee
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

            No offense taken, but I certainly don’t notice it when I hang around fellow-Californians. Maybe it’s kind of a Hollywood or Paris Hilton etc. thing.

      • Marella
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        I believe it originated in Queensland. It seems to me to be a way of making it clear that you haven’t finished speaking yet, so as to avoid being interrupted.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:19 am | Permalink

      And I thought it was a Kiwi (New Zealand) habit. And I *hate* it.

      I put it down to a sort of immature lack of self-confidence – as if the speaker doesn’t have enough self-assurance to make a statement and instead has to turn it into a weaselly half-question.

  77. Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Oh, my. Waaaaaaay too many comments for me to wade through — enough that I’m thinking it’s best for me to not tick the box, what with all I’ve got to get done today.

    But my biggest peeve is people confusing written and spoken language, such as referring to something that somebody just wrote as what she just “said.”

    Unless sound is emanating from mouths, nothing is being spoken; it’s being written.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      What Ben just said, as I imagined how it would sound while I was reading what he wrote out loud. :D

    • merilee
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      At least they’re not saying “he was like” or “she was like”..

  78. tobynsaunders
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    One of my language pet peeves is bringing them up, I suppose. But, I’m with you, Jerry. A funny one in the southeast US is that people say ‘wished’ instead of ‘wish. Like, “I wished I had that”… for some reason, some people only use wish in the past tense. They have other things like, “I’ll tell you what though”, to preface a sentence. And, “Another thing too”; that’s funny. And a professor of mine… with a PhD… actually once said, “That’s a whole ‘nother story”. I said, “whole ‘nother?” & she said, “yes”.

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Or drowned always being past tense. It’s even worse when they want to actually make it past tense and it becomes drowneded.

  79. worried secularist
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Where do I even begin? Even allowing for the historical flexibility of language, obfuscation and confusion bring out the not-very-deeply-buried curmudgeon in me. So, just a few examples:

    Failure to distinguish between :alternate” and “alternative”

    “Just sayin’”

    Cutesy social media terms such as “peeps,” which Ceiling Cat rightly deprecates.

    And I always stop reading at the first appearance of “hegemony,” which invariably foreshadows meaningless Butlerian cant.

    • merilee
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Strategic is also way overused by talking heads.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      “hegemony” and all post-modernist doublespeak give me the dry heaves.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        When I see “hegemony”, I think about Alexander the Great’s generals & just get generally confused. Maybe it’s a good thing & I’m postmodern proof. :)

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 11, 2014 at 2:16 am | Permalink

        Same here, and don’t forget ‘privileged’. :)

        And (as ws said), “just sayin” – which usually follows some piece of offensive and libellous flamebait, as if by ‘just sayin’ the poster didn’t mean it and is trying to dodge responsibility for the resulting fracas.

  80. worried secularist
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Oops, that should be “alternate.”

  81. Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Word.

  82. Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    The historic present tense in history documentaries. It’s presumably intended to give a sense of immediacy. But it is frequently downright misleading. Sometimes the audience really is left in doubt about whether the speaker is referring to a historic period, or to somebody now talking about it. Curiously, the worst offenders are academic historians, rather than television presenters.

    • Dermot C
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Absolutely: and when the voice-over introduces, “would…” we the listeners don’t know whether the action really happened or whether it was an imagined action.

      Re: academic historians using the historic present, I wonder if they are told to by the publishers in the mistaken assumption that it will boost sales.

      If E.P. Thompson didn’t bother with it and used the past tense, then that’s good enough for me.

      Who’s for a history of evolution written in the historic present? Hands er…down.

      Slaínte.

      • TJR
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        Even worse, TV historians not distinguishing between mythology and history. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s recent series on Byzantium was dreadful for this. (Sorry, probably a bit OT but it really really annoyed me).

        • bric
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

          Not just TV historians, I recently read Tom Holland’s ‘Rubicon’ and was disconcerted that he apparently gives the same weight to myths (e g the invisible procession of musicians leaving Alexandria) and documented facts. This is fine in Shakespeare or Cavafy, but they are poets not historians.

          • Marella
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

            He did the same thing in “The Shadow of the Sword”. I found it a bit disconcerting at first but I think it allowed for a better flow and I got used to it. Constantly having to add the qualifiers necessary to point out that the people of the time believed these things but the author doesn’t would certainly have impeded the narrative, and I decided in the end that it was a wise choice.

      • ladyatheist
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        I was trained to use the historical present when discussing a work of art or literature or music, but past tense when discussing activities of people. So “Beethoven uses the variation principle in the Ninth Symphony” but “he was so deaf he couldn’t hear the audience applaud at the premiere.”

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Oh yes, I particularly hate that one. Glad to know I am not the only one.

  83. scott
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Actually, the American phrase ‘ I could care less’ really annoys me ( sorry, Americans, no offense intended ). It should be ‘I COULDN’T care less’, as in, ‘I care so little about it that it would be completely impossible for me to care any less than I currently do’.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      I don’t think you can blame that one on Americans – it’s just bad English. I only recently started to see this mistake more and more when written (he probably don’t always hear the mistake).

      • Robert
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        It’s not bad English. I could care less. But I don’t care enough to pay attention to how much I care.

        Bam, rationalized away. (Actually that’s intentionally overthinking it but the point is that Scott’s explanation of the origin of the meaning of the phrase is irrelevant – even though it is logical and sensible and correct – because people don’t go through that process when talking).

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

          It has the opposite of the intended meaning: I could not care less vs I could care less therefore the English is bad.

          • Robert
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

            Only for someone who is deconstructing the phrase into its individual parts and not taking it as a whole.

            I hate it too, but you (and I) are overthinking it. Other expressions have done similar things too this is just a particularly timely example.

          • darrelle
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

            Before pushing that positions too hard you might want to read the Steven Pinker article that gbjames linked to early in this thread, over on the first page. Pinker covers this specific construction, among many of the other peeves being expressed on this thread.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

              Yes, I read that Steven Pinker thinks it “could care less” is sarcastic but I think it is said because of a mishear.

              • darrelle
                Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

                Interesting. I agree with Pinker because what he described is exactly what I have had in mind when using the phrase in the past. Before ever being aware of it being an issue.

              • darrelle
                Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

                To clarify the sarcasm, the meaning, at least what I have always thought the meaning was, is “on a scale of less to more I care so little that it is not possible for me to care any less, because the scale doesn’t go any lower.” That is always the meaning I was trying to convey when using that phrase.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Have you read Pinker’s article linked to above?

      /@

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        I can’t find any Pinker article above. Can you re-link it, or give the comment number where I can find it?

        • Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          Sorry. It appeared in email alerts but doesnt seem to have been posted. Maybe gbjames annoyed CC ?

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            You have to scroll down to Older Comments, click that link & you’ll find it. :)

            • Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

              Is that a new WP feature? Or have we never had so many comments before? (I doubt that.)

              /@

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

                I don’t know but I’ve seen it happen occasionally and recently so I think a new WP feature.

              • Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:44 am | Permalink

                It doesn’t help that comment numbering restarts at 1 for the newer comments.

                /@ >

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

                Aye carumba, I didn’t even notice that!

              • Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

                It is a newer feature applied to very long comments sections.

              • Merilee
                Posted January 11, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

                We might suggest to CC that he introduce grammar rants more frequently, say on a monthly basis, as he’s certainly getting a TON ( can one measure rants in tons?) of response:-)

          • gbjames
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

            So far I’ve escaped the wrath of The Paw. WordPress seems to have a new and unpleasant feature.

            • Merilee
              Posted January 11, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

              Huh? What Paw?

              • gbjames
                Posted January 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

                The Dread Paw of Ceiling Cat.

              • Merilee
                Posted January 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

                Whereon did it descend?

            • gbjames
              Posted January 11, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

              It didn’t, which was the point. (Yet, anyway.)

  84. Ken Phelps
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    As long as we’re on a tear, “nitch” instead of “neesh” for niche.

  85. Steve Brooks
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I detest the misuse of the word “artisan.” The word is a noun and refers only to a person.

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Well, other noun modifiers aren’t uncommon or rebarbative. A journeyman piece, for example.

      /@

    • beyondbelief007
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      Well.. Thankfully i don’t have to post the 434th comment. This! ;-)

  86. Jeff Lewis
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Calling a piece of music a song when there’s no singing.

    The continued use of obsolete date formats. If you say 2014-01-09, everyone knows what day you mean, unlike 1/9/14 or 9/1/14.

    • Max
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Speaking of songs, how about people who refer to the words in a single song as “lyrics” instead of “lyric.”

  87. Max
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    How about advanced instead of advance? “Advanced ticket sales begin tomorrow.”

  88. Glen Tarr
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I really dislike the use of “they” to mean “he or she”. It’s especially jarring when the person in question has already been referred to in the singular. For instance: “The assailant punched the victim, then they ran off.” What, both of them?

    I also see the suffix “age” used to construct a lot of odd-looking words. For instance, a sign I saw at a California bed-and-breakfast asked guests to conserve water by restricting their “gallonage”. I’ve since come to rather like that one, though, ever since I learned about the hidage tax (of defenders per “hide” of land) in 9th century England. Apparently the use of “age” to make odd words has a long and illustrious history.

    I like “awesome” for similar reasons. The word that used to mean “awe inspiring” was “awful”, but that word has since changed to mean something else. So we came up with “awesome”, but now that word is changing to mean something else too. Presumably we’ll soon have to pick a new word for the original meaning. So we’re witnessing the evolution of language as it happens. That’s an awesome thing!

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Singular they has a long and illustrious history too. If it was good enough for Jane Austen

      /@ >

      • James Walker
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        And Shakespeare.

        • Glen Tarr
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          “Gallonage” is odd, but in context it’s pretty easy to figure out the meaning. Singular “they” can be extremely confusing (as in the example I gave). A speaker may wish to distinguish between one or more unnamed individuals, and if “they” evolves to mean both, then the speaker will lose the ability to efficiently do that. As for Austen and Shakespeare; just because a famous author occasionally makes use of a particular idiom, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for everyone all the time. Faulkner and Joyce made extensive use of run-on sentences, but lord help us if that every becomes the general style.

          • Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

            But we cope perfectly well without “thou”!

            /@ >

            • Glen Tarr
              Posted January 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

              Sure. We aspire to be a more egalitarian society, so we no longer need different words for formal and familiar “you”. But we can still count, so distinguishing between one and more than one individual is still useful.

              • Posted January 9, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

                But thou” was SINGULAR and you PLURAL (as well as deferential but related to the plural in the same way as the royal we [maybe]).

                /@

              • Glen Tarr
                Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

                Well that’s a good point. But it’s fairly easy to say “you guys” or “you all” or even “y’all” when we want to be clear we’re addressing multiple people. Since we generally don’t address “you” without looking at “you”, that can help too. Those factors don’t generally apply with singular “they”. Also, singular and plural “you” both use verbs that are conjugated the same. Singular and plural “they” don’t (for present tense). So you can have jarring changes like “First the figure is in the dining room, then they are in the hall.”

              • Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:43 am | Permalink

                Use “it” in that case.

                /@ >

              • PS
                Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:41 am | Permalink

                We aspire to be a more egalitarian society, so we no longer need different words for formal and familiar “you”.

                That argument does not hold water. By any reckoning, France was perhaps the first country in Europe to explicitly “aspire to be a more egalitarian society”, yet French still maintains a difference between formal and informal versions of “you”.

                Trying to find sociopolitical connections to linguistic accidents is often fraught with dangers, and leads to such gems of sham wisdom as “Inuits have _insert favorite number here_ words for snow” because they live so close to the Arctic, or that and “Urdu has no future tense” because of some theological reason having to do with Islam. As Geoff Pullum often rues, somehow there seems to be a pervasive belief among those who consider themselves part of the “intelligentsia” that relying on empirical research is optional when making stuff up about language and its effects.

              • Glen Tarr
                Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

                I was just saying that, as a somewhat egalitarian society, we can get along with a single word for familiar and formal “you” easier than we can get along with a single word for singular and plural “they”. I wasn’t trying to explain why we lost the separate word for familiar “you”.

                As for using “it”: sure, often that will work. But not always. For instance, replace “figure” in the example above with “person”. The point I was making there is that, unlike with singular “you”, singular “they” requires us to change the meaning of the accompanying verb as well. (Creating a singular “are”, for instance.) The alternative would be to say things like “they is”, which is even more jarring.

              • Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

                I really don’t see the issue with the changing verb. It’s less rebarbative than “they is”.

                “Each user is required to keep their password confidential. If they suspect that someone else knows their password, they are required to change it.” 

                Perfectly cromulent. (In any case, “are” is already singular in the second person, so why not the third? No-one says, “you art”.)

                If that still offends your ear, recast!

                “Each user must keep their password confidential. If they suspect that someone else knows their password, they must change it.” 

                Snappier anyway.

                /@

              • merilee
                Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

                Did have to look up cromulent…

              • Glen Tarr
                Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

                As I mentioned, I’m pointing out the changing verb to show that more changes are required for singular “they” than for singular “you”. In modern English, “are” is never applied to the third person singular. It’s always “is”. To change that, for no good reason, is a pretty big deal.

                “You must keep your password confidential. If they suspect that someone else knows their password, they are required to change it.”

                There is nothing less “cromulent” about the above quote than about yours. Its problem is that it appears to change subjects between sentences (first “you”, then “they”). The same problem applies to your quote (first “each user”, then “they”).

                As for recasting, why not: “You must keep your password confidential. If you suspect that someone else knows your password, you must change it.”?

              • Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

                But at some point in what was then “modern English, “are” was never applied to the /second/ person singular. Now it is the state of the art.

                Changing from second person to third person in the middle of the paragraph is certainly /not/ cromulent! My editors would be apoplectic. (I’ve got some of them on my side re singular they, so that’s clearly a lesser crime!)

                Dost thou not think that some folks found it confusing to be addressed as “you” rather than “thou” at one time? Yet usage changed.

                (Recasting the whole thing in the second person is fine, of course, and what Id recommend to clients, as long as who is being addressed is made clear earlier.)

                /@

              • Glen
                Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

                > Changing from second person to third person in the middle of the paragraph is certainly /not/ cromulent! My editors would be apoplectic.

                There was no such change. I simply used second-person “they”, which is every bit as legitimate as singular “they”. If your editor gives you a difficult time for it, just toss out a few “dost thous”, point out that language changes, and thereby imply without actually stating that all such changes are to be embraced.

              • Posted January 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

                Every bit as legitimate? Hardly.

                /@

        • jimroberts
          Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:00 am | Permalink

          And Jesus – well, singular “their” in his case.

    • merilee
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Hate “signage” for signs. And “price points”. What’s wrong with prices?

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        Price points drives me crazy. I hate it so much, it’s unhealthy.

        • merilee
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

          Now here we could have a great discussion of whether it’s price points drive or price points
          drives;-)

          • Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

            It should be: “Price points” drives me crazy.

            That would be a mention, not a use.

            • Merilee
              Posted January 11, 2014 at 10:15 am | Permalink

              Yes, that would clarify it:-)

    • wnwd
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:23 am | Permalink

      RE: “I really dislike the use of ‘they’ to mean ‘he or she’.”

      I hear ya’, & I’m no PC-wonk, but in our modern rightfully & deliberately non-paternal-centric society, & especially with gender variance & freedom of expression & self-definition thereof, we desperately need gender-neutral, &or at least gender non-specific, terminology.

      I cringe using “they” in the singular, but until there’s a viable alternative? Using “he” for either-or, or even “she” at least 50% of the time as ‘all-gender-inclusive’, is not only insufficient, but also awkward, ill-fitting, nearly poseur… just simply won’t do any more.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:22 am | Permalink

        This.

        Err, I mean +1.

        ‘They’ for a singular may be incorrect but it sounds a lot less awkward than ‘s/he’ or similar bodged-up constructions.

        Similarly the impersonal ‘you’ where it should strictly be ‘one’ (e.g. ‘you can’t see the bridge from here’). (The French use ‘on’ and it sounds fine in French, but awfully stilted in English).

        • Glen
          Posted January 11, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

          I recognize there isn’t a perfect solution to what to use for a third-person-singular pronoun of indeterminate gender, but I think there are better options than “they”. I generally use some non-gendered descriptor (“someone”, “one”, “a person”) to make plain what I’m talking about, and then use either “him” or “her” (whichever is less stereotypical) to refer to the person after that. If that looks like it might confuse then I might throw in a “him or her”. Thus: I think that if a person were to do that then she would be able to convey her meaning clearly without mangling established definitions or rules of grammar.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 11, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            Two small problems. One is that ‘he’ and ‘she’ are gender-specific, so literally incorrect where both sexes are meant.
            Secondly, using the conventional gender (‘he’ for a doctor, ‘she’ for a nurse for example) just reinforces the stereotypes, while using the opposite gender can grab the reader’s attention and distract from the main point of the sentence.

            In some contexts it can be quite distracting – using ‘she’ for a truck driver, for example. ‘Each driver must ensure that her load is properly secured’. I’d say ‘Each driver must ensure that their load is properly secured’ and the hell with grammar.

            Languages with non-gendered pronouns are fortunate in not having this problem.

            • Glen
              Posted January 12, 2014 at 11:11 am | Permalink

              Well I’m not saying it’s a perfect solution. I’m just saying it’s miles better than using “they” for single individuals. The original way to handle it was of course to just use “he”, so it’s not true that “he” can’t refer to someone of indeterminate gender. With our modern sensibilities we might want to give “she” more of the duties, to even things out, but if you don’t want to use “she” for truck drivers there’s nothing to say you must. Alternatively, why talk about “each” truck driver separately when addressing the lot of them?: “Drivers are required to ensure that their loads are properly secured.”

              • ROO BOOKAROO
                Posted January 12, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

                Glen:

                You’ll find a complete survey of this question in an article by Kory Stamper, a professional lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, in her blog, ” Harmless Drudgery”.
                Her article and relevant comments are at
                http://korystamper.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/a-compromise-how-to-be-a-reasonable-prescriptivist/ (Aug. 23, 2013).
                All the angles discussed here, and more, are dissected in this lengthy posting.

                The problem is very real for editors and publishers in the current climate of granting women equal rights of representation.

                I concluded my own contribution with the following summary of my own experience with the problem.

                PRACTICAL OPTIONS

                As I have actually encountered them:

                1) Stick to the historical method, recorded over the long history of English literature: Keep using “man”, “men”, “he”, “his” as words with a collective, class meaning. That is the style that the political correctness ideology tries to obliterate, rewriting the rules of good usage.

                2) If the text mentions many cases of using anonymous singular names to represent a class, “the patient”, “the student”, “the athlete”, “the advocate”, be fair, and vary the use of pronouns, “he” and “his” in one paragraph, “she” and “her” in another.

                3) The option of using “he/she”, “his/her” can be used occasionally, but repeated in a long text, it becomes frightfully awkward and boring.

                4) If you happen to be an ardent feminist still raging at the unfairness of past centuries, use systematically “she” and “her”, ignoring the possibility of any male representative in the targeted class of people.

                5) If you want to avoid the awkward “they” and “their” to refer to a singular name, change the subject to the plural form: “Ph.D.s complain that their degrees can’t get them an academic job”. Very often an easy and elegant solution to the dilemma.

                6) Human Kinetics, a major publisher of physical therapy and training books, has adopted the radical method of no longer using “he”, “his”, “she” , “her”: “The patient keeps the spine flexed”, “the patient returns to the standing posture”. This way they are sure not to alienate potential female buyers.

                7) Banish all worries, and use the awkward “they”, “their”, as your mood suggests. If you’re writing in a blog, nobody will give you grief (hopefully).

                In all cases, remember that language, in its original production, is never used in the abstract manner of the uninvolved lexicographer, who examines, records, and analyzes only dead language, after the fact of its active life.
                Language, in the act of creation, is always part of a “Sitz im Leben”, as the Germans say, that is, an existential situation, where language has the biological function of communicating live with a defined group.

                So speakers or writers have to use common sense, sensitivity, knowledge, and artistry, to take into account their situation in life, and develop an awareness of the beliefs and expectations of their social environment, audience or public.

                They want to be understood, but also liked and accepted. Look at Obama. It’s above all his rhetorical talent that propelled him to the Presidency.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 13, 2014 at 1:56 am | Permalink

                @Roo
                Good summary.

                Yeah, I like using ‘he’ as a collective pronoun, unfortunately (for me) that’s considered not-PC these days. So I use ‘they’ instead. Can’t win ‘em all.

  89. James
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    “Going forward” as in Going forward we need to be more diligent. What other way would we be going?

    • Amelia Schuler
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      That phrase never sat well with me particularly since the phrase it is meant to update (In future…) is perfectly adequate as it is.

  90. Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I have to say, peeps isn’t a social media term (I read this in the comments). Peeps has been used for multiple persons of friend status for quite a while, before massive use of the internet, more slang than anything.

    I don’t like ‘this’ either, because I know it started with social media sites that don’t have ‘like’ icons. But to say ‘this’ on Facebook or Youtube or WordPress- it just doesn’t make sense. If you don’t have anything to say just like it and move on.

    My biggest pet peeve with language is when people would say something ridiculously wrong (mispronouncing a word or conjugating a verb incorrectly- and not slang-wise) and get upset or call me a Grammar Nazi when I correct them. It is not ‘broke-ded’, you ass.

    • Nick
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Please show your evidence that ‘peeps’ for people precedes internet usage. At least one source says first known usage was 1992. It is most assuredly a social media term.

      • Glen Tarr
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Graffiti artists were referring to themselves as “peeps” at the University of California at San Diego from 1976 through the late 90s at least (and possibly are still). https://www.facebook.com/groups/4402866498/
        http://planetmind.net/peeps/

      • Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        Peeps was a hip-hop term before it crossed over.

      • Dermot C
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        Similarly, the first example of ‘OMG’ dates from 1912 in, mirabile dictu, believe it or not, surprisingly enough, a letter to Winston Churchill. Source: Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme. So, rock solid academic research.

        Slaínte.

  91. Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    The adverb “hopefully” when applied to an inanimate object.

    The inability to use a comma, correctly.

    And, while we are at it, the inability to distinguish a defining from a non-defining clause.

    And sentences that lack a verb.

  92. MKray
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I dislike the US (ab)use of `momentarily’. It means `for a moment’ (`the ball thrown vertically stops momentarily before returning’) not `in a moment’.

    • merilee
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      The way that presently is misused…

  93. Nick260682
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    People who say “generally” instead of “genuinely”. Increasingly common.

    The “I could care less” example mentioned above makes no sense. “Couldn’t” my American friends, “couldn’t”.

    High rising intonation. Give me strength. Although this does give me the fun of asking the perpetrator whether they’re asking me a question, when I’m fully aware it’s a statement.

    And finally, (sorry Jerry I know this is a favourite of yours) but: “noms” is beginning to drive me mad. It’s not sweet, it’s not funny and it’s not clever.

    • beyondbelief007
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      And if I read one more “lucubration” …

  94. Rod
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Decimate when the user thinks it means to reduce to one tenth, when the true meaning is to remove one tenth and leave 9/10s behind.

  95. Posted January 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    The use of the word “hard” instead of the more specific “difficult” as in “a difficult task”.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      as in, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”?

  96. Mary L
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I try to use good grammar when I speak. Sometimes, people make fun of me for that. I’ve also been criticized for using the correct or proper word, instead of throwing in “thingie” or “whatamacallit”. I’m accused of showing off or trying to make others look bad. WTF?!

    • Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Stop showing off. You’re making others look bad. And anyway, it’s “thingy” and “whatchamacallit.”

      • ladyatheist
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        No, it’s “thingamabob” and “whatchacallit”

        • Mary L
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          I should drop “whatsit” or “whosit”?

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

            and thingamajigger.

          • Marella
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

            Whoseywhatsit.

          • trou
            Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

            dealybob

        • merilee
          Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

          NO, whatchaMAcallit most def’

  97. Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    All of the sudden…

  98. Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    But I love the word “nother,” as in “that’s a whole nother story.”

    • merilee
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      I like nother, too;-)

  99. SkyEyes
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Most egregious language faux pas?

    “Second of all.”

    Just dumb, dumb, dumb.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      I don’t like “dumb” being used for “stupid” because “dumb” used to mean “unable to speak” and it referred to a disability. It’s better than “retarded” but “stupid” if you can say “stupid,” why say “dumb?”

  100. Kiwi Dave
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    preplanning

  101. Amelia Schuler
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    One peeve of mine is the use of the contraction “there’s” followed by the subject in plural form as in: “There’s apples on the counter.”

    Another is the treatment of “data” and “media” as singular nouns.

    • merilee
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      There’s “plural” is ubiquitous in Canada (and drives me nutz.)

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      “there’re is hard to say!

      • merilee
        Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        There’re isn’t difficult at all to say!

  102. merilee
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    My former mother-in-law often ended sentences with a really drawn out aaaaaaaannnnnnnnddddd so that it was hard to get a word in edgewise.

  103. ladyatheist
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    English isn’t one language. It’s an amalgam of old English, which is Germanic, French, and various Latin, Greek and miscellaneous words added in. This means we have conflicting pronunciation and spelling and usage. Most “errors” are made via analogy to a situation in another part of the language.

    So, I forgive analogous “errors” because I know their logic will make them overcome in the long run.

    I also forgive “like” “y’know” and “um” because they’re place-holders for the brain to catch up with the mouth. Some people can’t handle even a brief silence and will steal the floor out from under you if they think you’ve finished.

    I have picked up a few “wrong” things that just make too much sense not to use. My favorite is “might could.” “Might be able to” is just too much of a mouthful to win that one.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I forgive a lot of Latin pluralization issues because you have the choice to pluralize, accepting that the word is pure Latin or pluralize, accepting that the word is a now English word. So, I won’t freak out if you pluralize “appendix” as “appendixes” instead of “appendices” & I have no strong opinions about “data” taking either a plural or singular verb.

  104. ladyatheist
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    *whew* I finally read through the comments and I can’t believe nobody brought this one up:

    “Science tells us” or “Scientists believe.”

    No, “Science” is not the Bible and it doesn’t talk. How about “Evidence has shown that” or “The best theory to explain…”

    That kind of usage feeds the canard that science is just another religion.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      Yes! I remember as a kid someone say “they say” to our science teacher and he asked “who’s they” and someone replied “scientists” and then I believe he corrected them. It stuck with me all my life.

  105. ladyatheist
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    I learned a new one today: “squish”

    As I was leaving work, (female) undergrad #1 said to (female) undergrad #2 “I’m going to have to put the squish on her”

    Fortunately for me, #1 explained what that meant: a “squish” is a friend-crush. #1 is going to send a friend invitation to a stranger she thinks is cool.

    Later, I looked it up in the urban dictionary</a., and sure enough, it's been a usage for awhile.

    This demonstrates the problem with the English language. Even with hundreds of thousands of words and countless idiomatic expressions, it can't keep up with the human imagination. And unlike Germans, we English-speakers can't pile up other words to create one long ingenious word. We have to put the squish on an old word and give it more dimension.

    (What would that be in German? Freundheitwunschaufsetzen perhaps?)

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Ich habe Scheißecode gemacht

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:58 am | Permalink

      Squish is a well-defined IC engine technical term which has been in use probably since the 30s. It relates to the area on top of the piston which approaches very close to the cylinder head at TDC, thereby ‘squishing’ the trapped gas out sideways creating turbulence and improving combustion.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squish_(piston_engine)

      So far as I know any other use is just slang for ‘squash’.

  106. Doug
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    “General consensus” or “consensus of opinion.” A consensus is a general opinion, so both of these are redundant.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 12, 2014 at 3:44 am | Permalink

      Surely that should be “either one of these is redundant in the presence of the other”?
      [Grammar Fascist - I can object to Romance languages as well as Germanic family ones.]

      • Posted January 12, 2014 at 4:00 am | Permalink

        I think Doug meant “both ‘general’ and ‘of opinion’ are redundant”.

        /@

  107. Amelia Schuler
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    using the phrase “I guess…” when one means “I think…”

  108. Amelia Schuler
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    When children begin with “I want,” I think parents would do well to encourage them to say “I would like” instead.

    • Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:57 am | Permalink

      Mine did! The usual retort was “‘I want’ never gets.”

      /@

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      Only if the parents want the child to be the subject of brutal abuse in school! That’s very uppity.

  109. Amelia Schuler
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    One more: calling any online list a “listserv/listserve”; Listserv is a list managing software.

  110. Grania Devine
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    “Irregardless”
    “Moving forward”
    “Transitioning”
    “At this point in time”

  111. Centricci
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    I am not sure if this qualifies as a language peeve, but “center around” has always bugged me.
    A center indicates a point, and a point cannot encircle anything, so its either “center on” or “revolve around”.

  112. pooteresque
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    The one that makes me grind my teeth? “Off of”. Redundant and ugly.

  113. TJR
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    I think we’ve proved one thing with this thread.

    We atheists really are very angry.

    (Apologies if this has already been said above and I missed it).

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      and pedants.

      • Diane G.
        Posted January 12, 2014 at 12:15 am | Permalink

        And perhaps not as nice as we’d like to think we are.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 12, 2014 at 3:45 am | Permalink

          Oh, we are as nice as we think we are. But we’re maybe not quite as nice as we try to lead others to think that we are.

  114. Richard Bond
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    I despise the misuse of words in order to sound more learned or authoritative, and I really regret the consequent elision of subtle shades of meaning. One example is the “ee” suffix applied to the doer instead of the doee :) as in “attendee”. The attendee is the meeting itself, not the person attending. Another example is the almost universal replacement of “sympathise” with “empathise”, losing the particular implication of the latter. In order to restore that implication, it is necessary these days to waste extra words to qualify “empathise”.
    Before anybody refers to a dictionary, please appreciate that a dictionary records usage, not correctness.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      Also, please appreciate that “correctness” is largely illusory.

      • Richard Bond
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        My point is that “ee” is a useful device for referring to the object of a transitive verb. It only retains that usefulness if it is used consistently, which requires that there is a such a thing as its correct usage.

        • gbjames
          Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:56 am | Permalink

          Perhaps. But largely irrelevant in real language evolution. Language usage doesn’t really give much of a damn for rules like that and just rolls along, changing as it goes. Over time the rule becomes a historical oddity. The fact that “attendee” means “person attending” to essentially all English speakers means that it is, in fact, correct usage (now).

          • John Scanlon, FCD
            Posted January 10, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

            It seems to be a ‘middle voice’ construction, active or reflexive in sense but passive in form (as common in ancient Greek).

          • Richard Bond
            Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

            I agree that we are stuck with “attendee”; I assume that it caught on by analogy with “absentee”, which arose when “to absent” was a transitive verb. It still retains a hint of that in the reflexive phrase “to absent oneself”, but that does not mean that we need to concede that same sloppiness more generally. In listing those who have attended a meeting, I have always used “present” as a header, or, when I am feeling particularly stroppy “attenders”. A few of my more alert colleagues have followed my example.
            I still think that it originated in a tendency to pretension, and I very strongly dislike that.

            • gbjames
              Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

              I won’t argue about what you dislike.

              • Diane G.
                Posted January 12, 2014 at 12:17 am | Permalink

                ;) (Are emoticons still allowed?)

                I agree with you, gb, but aren’t you committing the “language evolves” sin?

            • gbjames
              Posted January 12, 2014 at 8:08 am | Permalink

              Looks like I am!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      My personal dislike of the “ee” thing is the use of “mentee” for “protegé”. It is mentor and protegé! When I here “mentee” I reply with “Manatee? What are you saying about this person? Is that a fat joke?” :)

      • Posted January 11, 2014 at 1:09 am | Permalink

        Svengali and Trilby!

        /@

      • gbjames
        Posted January 11, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        On the other hand, “protégé” has a certain “hoity-toity” flavor. At my company we use “mentor/mentee” which has a more casual and personable feel to it than French words with e-acute characters.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 11, 2014 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          Yeah I think all companies use that because protege sounds hoity but Canada is bilingual and French shouldn’t sound hoity to us!

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 12, 2014 at 3:49 am | Permalink

        It is mentor and protegé!

        I have a suspicion that it should be more like mentor and eratomenos, or something similar. But I’m not really up to speed on the terminology of platonic relationships (in Plato’s sense), so I’ll just note some unease and wait to be corrected.

        When I here “mentee”

        … you want reach for that Spilling Choker and choke the life out of it?

        • Posted January 12, 2014 at 4:01 am | Permalink

          Surely it should be “a telemachus”! ;-)

          /@

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 12, 2014 at 8:34 am | Permalink

            Ha! Beat me to it!

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 12, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

            I’d bow to your superior knowledge … but I’ve exceeded my quota of “dropping the soap in the prison showers” jokes for the day.

  115. TJR
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    I’ve resisted up to now, but…..

    Misuse of mathematical terms irritates the hell out of me. Using “exponential” to mean “fast”, or “non-linear” to mean “difficult”, or most of all using “metric” to mean “measure”.

    Its just the lowest common denominator of language.

    • Richard Bond
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      I completely agree, especially about “exponential”. I think that these are more examples of what I said in my earlier post: attempts to sound more learned or authoritative than is justified. “Quantum jump” is the worst of all.

      • Merilee
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        All the talking heads keep referring to ” changing the calculus” in some situation or other. Do they want to take the 2 nd derivative of Syria or something???

      • lisa parker
        Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:08 am | Permalink

        Wasn’t Quantum Jump” a tv series?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 11, 2014 at 7:03 am | Permalink

          Quantum Leap :)

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:36 am | Permalink

        Since a quantum jump is (from my hazy understanding of physics) the smallest possible change of state – like, very very tiny – it means the exact opposite of what most people who use it think it means.

        • Marcel Volker
          Posted January 11, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

          SMBC had a cartoon on this, it’s one of my favourites. Makes me chuckle now every time somebody on TV uses it.

          http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2628

          “Reaching critical mass” is another one. It’s meant to sound positive, like in “our protest movement is reaching critical mass now” but of course in the nuclear physics where it originates it pretty much means the opposite.

  116. wnwd
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Absolutely.

    I ‘absolutely’ hate the ubiquitous & rampant ‘absolute’ misuse of “absolutely”… not only are the absolutes being touted ‘absolutely’ not absolute (see quote below), but even if such usage were ‘absolutely’ correct, still, does this word ‘absolutely’ HAVE to be used at ‘absolutely’ every single slightest opportunity?!

    “That there are no other absolutes is, probably, the only absolute.”

  117. Stephen Wilson
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    My blood pressure rises whenever I see an IT headline, article, or job description peppered with undefined, needless acronyms and abbreviations just to sound or look “techy.”

    They make me think back to the Good Morning, Vietnam scene where Robin Williams mocks a hapless officer with a string of them:

  118. beyondbelief007
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Just watch sports broadcasters, if. You want to tear your hair out. “The weather is going to play a huge factor in this game!” Something can plau a rooe, or be a factor, but never “play a factor.

    Then there’s the negative: “I don’t disagree with you, but….” Yes, yes you DO disagree, so get on with it!!

  119. Amelia Schuler
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    “ax” instead of “ask”

    “noocular” instead of “nuclear”

    • gbjames
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Interestingly, “ax” is more correct than “ask” if you use history as a judge of correctness. “Ax” goes back to the eighth century. Chaucer used “ax.”

      More about “ax” here.

      • Merilee
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        Great ” ax” commentary. ( Love Keyband Peele!). My very well- educated West Indian friend, who taught French and Spanish, knows German, and speaks ultra-correct English, will come out with an ” ax” every now and then.

        • Merilee
          Posted January 10, 2014 at 8:26 am | Permalink

          Whoops, the comedy duo Key and Peele

      • Amelia Schuler
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        Interesting. Middle English pedigree aside, perhaps “ax” will come to be accepted as part of modern “standard” English. Or is this taught in schools today?

        (I like K&P, by the way. But I enjoyed most Stephen Fry’s animated commentary. Thanks for that!)

    • Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Dip-PLOD-duh-cus instead of diplo-docus.
      Ar-key-OP-tur-ryx instead of archaeo-pteryx.
      Fu-ka-shima (or Fu-ki-shima) instead of Fu-ku-shima.
      Shit-zu instead of shih tzu.
      Orangutang instead of orang utan.

      A forest full of “birds, insects and animals”.

      A planet with “no life forms” when the landing party is surrounded by plants (especially flowering plants).

      Kil-OM-etre instead of kilo-metre.

      I have been known to resort to kil-OG-rams, mil-LIM-etres and cen-TIM-etres in mock protest with the kids. But I round it off by pointing out one may get some strange looks if you start talking about thermo-meters.

  120. Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    “Very unique” bothers me. Something is either unique or it is not. There are no degrees of uniqueness.

    • Merilee
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Had a tour of a California winery many moons ago during which the guy tried to sell us some “typically unique” red…

    • PS
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      That just goes to show what kind of shaky foundations language peeves are constructed upon. One of the the original senses of the word “very” was “truly” or “really”, and not as a marker of degree. I don’t see what is wrong with “truly unique”.

      In a similar vein, there is nothing at all wrong with “typically unique”. It could just mean that it is typical for their wines to be unique. That would be nice poetic contrast, not a failing of grammar or usage.

  121. Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Problem with language prescriptions is that if enough people make the “mistake” it no longer is one. (This is one domain where the principle applies!)

    That said, I really the use of “begs the question” to mean “raises the question”.

  122. Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Two pet peeves: “This. Was. Epic.”

    No, it was not epic! Everything cannot be epic! Sentences contain more than one word.

  123. Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Although I am guilty of having used it rarely in the past, IMO (or IMHO).

    Of course it’s MY opinion – if it were not I would attribute it. Why do people expect otherwise?

    • Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      We should coin a new acronym…IMAO. In my arrogant opinion…

      • wnwd
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        Not an acronym, but I’ve used: IM(not-so)HO

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha or MCO (My Correct Opinion).

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 11, 2014 at 2:08 am | Permalink

      No, I think it’s useful – to differentiate from a statement of (purported) fact. It ‘softens’ the view expressed, acknowledging that others may differ.

      e.g. saying “The Beatles were the most creative group ever” is just begging for an argument. “IMO, the Beatles were the most creative group ever” acknowledges that it’s just ‘my’ opinion and doesn’t invite the same automatic contradiction.

      IMO, of course.

  124. lisa parker
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    One of my big language peeves is “amongst”. I know it is a legitimate word, but for some weird reason, it just drives me nuts when someone says “amongst” instead of “among”.
    My biggest one is people using a word incorrectly; like celibacy for chastity, or something is “very unique” instead of “very rare(how can you have anything more unique than one of a kind), “Mute” for “moot” or “decimate” for “destroy”.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      My dad has a friend who mixed up “incest” with “nepotism”. He would not accept that hiring your relatives is not “incest”. :D

      • lisa parker
        Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:52 am | Permalink

        @Dana
        I can only imagine the fun of having a friend who unintentionally (maybe not unintentionally) make a comment (insult) like that; could cause something of a flutter.

    • lisa parker
      Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      I forgot a really bad one: where are you at?

  125. Marcel Volker
    Posted January 11, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    “Decimated” is nowadays almost always used completely different from what used to mean.

    Decimation as practised by the Roman army was both more and less gruesome than its modern day usage of “the population of pelicans was decimated due to the use of DDT”.

    I think people saw the “deci” and assumed it therefore meant “reduce tenfold”, like in the IS prefix deci – decimeter = 0.1 meter.

  126. Posted January 11, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    That!

  127. Diane G.
    Posted January 12, 2014 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Ok, now I’m officially intimidated from posting anything here. (If one misses the latest decrees, is there any mercy?)

    Coincidentally, from AWAD today:

    “It’s time to challenge the notion that there is only one way to speak English”

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/dec/31/one-way-speak-english-standard-spoken-british-linguistics-chomsky

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 12, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      I do find myself rather self conscious when writing here now but I make little mistakes all the time so I’m sure that will wear off.

  128. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 12, 2014 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    To disagree with Prof CC, but :

    It’s the following sentence:
    This.

    The overwhelming majority of the time that I’ve encountered this expression has been in a website (which really does predate “blogging”, and carries the byline “News for Nerds”) where the majority of commentators are programmers of some sort, or some degree of wannabe-ism. Here I’ve taken it as being a parallel usage to an object-oriented programming notation for referring to a public method of a recursive class which is declared recursively, when you wish to refer to the current level of scope of that method (i.e. “this.method”) as distinguished from the same method in the scope of the calling instance of the class (i.e. “parent.method”). And generally as such, it’s been used appropriately – such as referring to a point that the parent comment has made and contrasting it with the similar point made by the grandparent comment has made.
    If it’s creeping out into popular language (specifically EN_US ; I’ve never heard it in an EN_GB context), then that may be why I see some usages and think “wannabe programmer ; they’re not using ‘this.’ correctly!”
    To misquote Ugh, the Neanderthal Spear-Shaker, “Oh what a tangled web we weave / when first we practice using words instead of clubs.”

  129. Ralph Pickering
    Posted January 12, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    “At the end of the day”

    This one seriously sets my teeth on edge. It has nothing to do with days, or their end, and adds nothing of value to the sentence.

    And, while I’m thinking about it, misusing “begging the question” annoys me, because just about everyone uses it and almost no-one gets it right.

    So yes, I’m both a pedant and an elitist.


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