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message 1: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Are there any language or grammar issues that get under your skin? It could be a word, a construction, a rule, a non-word, a person even (e.g. a grammar maven who constantly corrects everyone).

At kitchen parties, bitching and moaning are allowed -- even if it's about someone out in the parlor. (But remember, none of us are out in the parlor.)

message 2: by rivka (new)

rivka It's means it is. It does not mean belonging to it. And their's just isn't a word at all.

message 3: by rivka (new)

rivka I sometimes make the "it's" mistake when I'm typing, but I almost always catch it when I'm proofreading.

Me too. :) And the occasional typo is to be expected, certainly. I'm talking more about the people who don't understand what the problem is, or even better, try to argue that it really is "it's beauty" (or whatever).

message 4: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15785 comments Mod
Lately when I'm typing, even though I know perfectly well which homonym I want, the fingers will sometimes run away from me and type the other. I'm hoping it's not a sign of encroaching Alzheimer's.


message 5: by rivka (new)

rivka Sounds about right. :D Sadly, neither of my spellcheckers catch my frequent mishomonymia (Ruth, you're not alone!)

message 6: by Ken (last edited Mar 07, 2008 01:02PM) (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Yes, rest assured, Ruth, that homophone madness afflicts all ages, from the youngest writers to the crusaders of the Middle Ages to the "golden year" ambassadors of wisdom.

Did you know that technically a homonym is only a word that sounds alike AND has the exact same spelling (but a different meaning). Homonyms would be mouse, bat, and bark.

What we normally call homonyms are actually homophones. Those would be words that sound alike but do NOT have the exact same spelling (and mean different things). These are the ones that we mistakenly write all the time:

there, their, they're
you're, yore
effect, affect
I'll, aisle, isle

... and so forth. Not a language peeve, just a technicality.

And I am very forgiving of people who malign the language due to regional quirks. For instance, my family uses a construction common in pockets of New England (not sure of the source). It's what I call the negative positive. Examples:

Sue: "I'm a Red Sox fan."
Jim-Bob: "So aren't I."
Vern: "And so isn't Maybelle."

Obviously, that SHOULD read:

Sue: "I'm a Red Sox fan."
Jim-Bob: "So am I."
Vern: "And so is Maybelle."

I've worked hard to un-learn it, but everyone in my extended family still speaks this way, which doesn't make the un-learning any easier.

message 7: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15785 comments Mod
So I guess I need to study my homophonics.


message 8: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
No studying, just "catching."

Nota Bene: When I was a lad (James Garfield Administration), I thought homo meant man. Now, it's all the same.

message 9: by rivka (new)

rivka Actually, homonym can mean either homophone or homograph or both.

message 10: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
That was scary. I just went through not only Rivka's link, but many others. I always knew that the word "homonym" was used to cover all of these sound-alike words (different spellings or not), but thought that they were TECHNICALLY incorrect.

Check this site out and you see I'm not the first to go on wild goose chases:

What's worse, the guy throws in homographs. (And now my head hurts.)

OK, so another language summit is in order. And more unlearning maybe. My question is: Why have a word like "homonym" if definition #1 is "homophone" and definition #2 is not what homophone is defined as being?

You don't have to answer that...

message 11: by rivka (new)

rivka Because language changes. Whatever homonym first was coined to mean, the -nym suffix is too vague. So we have -graph and -phone -- but then the question becomes is that the same as a, b, or both?

Since it's English, the answer became "all of the above." ;) Much as it pains my presciptivist soul, there is some logic to it.

message 12: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Does texting lingo bother anyone here? Do you think it's "the end of correct spelling" and "language" as we know it? It doesn't bother me--well it's annoying at first when you don't know what it means. I figure it's just how the language evolves and over time it will be accepted and today's Engish will be viewed the same way we see medieval English--a sort of "what the ù^$*%%!!! were they talking about!" ;) Any thoughts....??

message 13: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 08, 2008 12:05AM) (new)

Hi East,

Yes, I deplore the techy changes but agree they are inevitable. However, I prefer a more casual writing and speaking style than I did 10 or 20 years ago. I also prefer to take on ee cummings ideas on capitalization and punctuation for my online writings.

I've mentioned previously, Walter Ong, who wrote about the changes technology makes on human thought patterns. He was talking about the changes that occured when civilization went from an oral to a written culture. It's fascinating and I think a similar thing is happening today.

message 14: by Ken (last edited Mar 08, 2008 01:40AM) (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Yes, language is a living thing, it seems -- a protean beast, ever changing, enduring illnesses, adjusting to its environment, competing with itself and the cultures that feed it.

I am not a linguist or even a product of college courses on language. In fact, I'm learning a lot here. For instance, just yesterday I learned the word "prescriptivist" thanks to two posters on the L&G group here. It's almost like the "whole language" vs. the "phonics and drills" thing -- some like to go to the rule books and hold strictly to them, and others like to go with the flow and talk about the River Language... its eddies and currents... its turbulence and change. Me, I like to keep a foot firmly entrenched in both camps. I admire conventions (for sanity and coherence), but love the way language changes with us, too.

That said (where are we? ah, yes, the Language Peeves thread), I'm not wild about the effect of texting lingo, either.

WORSE, to me, are some recent trends in literary fiction. One of them is the dropping of quotation marks for dialogue. I just read His Illegal Self by Peter Carey and he did this. I think Cormac McCarthy did it in his latest end-of-the-world book (The Road), too. Why? What does it prove? To me, it seems like an affective conceit that accomplishes nothing (unless you consider occasional confusion over who's talking as "something").

ee cummings was fun, but I give his anti-capital hijinks much more rope because he's a poet and poetic licenses, as we all know, are honored in all subject states (check the Geneva Convention). But in prose using all lower case would begin to grate, as would all caps, as would no paragraphing.

Two and a half cheers for conventions, then.

message 15: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (last edited Mar 08, 2008 12:53PM) (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
As I do text message (to keep up with my kids) I do sometimes take the necessary short cuts WHEN TEXTING (although I refuse to use LOL on principle)! I don't see a place for text language anywhere else. Check out Daily Diary What I just Finished for an example of text language out of context. There was a bit of a furore over here in NZ recently when some Min of Educ nincompoop suggested that answers in English exams written in textspeak would be acceptable!!!!!!!!

message 16: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15785 comments Mod
My language peeve? Pant. As a noun, not verb. As in "This stylish linen pant come in three beautiful spring colors."

Pant? As if I have only one leg?


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

well the pant thing is strange
perhaps it comes from pant suit?

i like the river metaphor for language
i took a college course entitled
the history of the english language
(i beleive it originated as a pbs special)

it was very informative and the first time i was introduced to the concept of language development
i had always been given the impression that language was fixed and standard

message 18: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Pant reminds one of dog breath, which I agree is peevish and foul. Most foul.

I wonder if pant is like scissor -- naked without its "s"?

Maureen -- if language isn't fluid, I'm in big trouble. There's no way language wants to be fixed (See? It's crossing its legs) or, God help it, standard. We need flexibility in our language. Rules and conventions for sanity, yes. But enough room to breath, thank you.

That's my middle-of-the-road position and I'm sticking to it (as cars barrel down from both directions).

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

middle of the road works for me
as long as i can meander down into the ditch (where all the wildflowers grow) or down the railroad tracks for a good look around at the environs off the beaten path :)

message 20: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15785 comments Mod
Actually, Maureen, I think it should be pants suit. But you're probably right, it probably started there.

Salesgirls look at me like I'm nutz, when I'm on a rant about this.

They're probably right.

message 21: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 08, 2008 07:14PM) (new)

rant on ruth
we must at least attempt to hold the line

my 21 year old always hated it when i stopped him when he was speaking and said slowly and carefully...enunciate

he didn't like it but he learned to do it

now when they start saying slack instead slacks they've simply gone too far

message 22: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
How did we get this far without mentioning these two:

1.) "Me and..." subjects, as in "Me and Jim-Bob are going down to the Maybelle's to have us a smoke."

2.) "The Good Well Syndrome," as in "I played good today" and the simple charmer "I did good."

Caveat: I say, "You done good" all the time (but it's all in fun, you see... you do see, don't you?).

message 23: by Gilbert (new)

Gilbert | 4 comments Well, I think I read somewherer that the word pants comes from latin short for pantalones. I think the first people to wear pants were the jesters during the carnival of fat tuesday.

yes, language always changes. the river analogy is good. Language has been changing since its development.

message 24: by Gilbert (new)

Gilbert | 4 comments I hate it when people say christian instead of protestant.

message 25: by mara (new)

mara | 6 comments What irritates me more is when people correct others for using the objective case of a pronoun at all. Would you like to go with "Bill and me" for instance might get a smirk but (as we all know) is correct...

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

i always have to think about the i/me situation and default most times to I in the bill and me scenario
ruth's rule of saying it seperately doesn't work in this case
i find when i have a grammar available and hone up-i'm fine
but then i move and books go in storage and my skills atrophy
english teachers of course have the benefit of teaching the discipline everyday therefore become like well oiled machines
ha...there you go, i have english teacher envy

my pet peeve is the well/good conundrum
my grandmother instilled that one in me and i have yet to meet a regular joe
(even quite well educated, intelligent people) who didn't give me a puzzled look when my response to their question "how are you?" is "i'm well"
i've also insisted my children always answer that way

message 27: by Ken (last edited Mar 10, 2008 01:12PM) (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
English teachers are not well-oiled machines. I listen to and read their mistakes all the time. I make them, too. What's worse, we often teach stuff that is technically wrong (like the homophone/homonym/homograph mess I just researched more heavily).

It's just like that old Parson Weems bio of George Washington. He wrote this apocryphal garbage about George chopping down a cherry tree and then it was taught as fact forever until someone blew the whistle and said, "No, George sold Studebakers, but that cherry tree malarkey is just that... the figment of a Parson's imagination (apparently as great as his girth)."

P.S. Hello, Gilbert (new face). Did you know that many students separate Catholics from Christians, too (as if they were apple and orange instead of Granny Smith and Macoun)?

message 28: by Catamorandi (new)

Catamorandi (wwwgoodreadscomprofilerandi) Mara,

My mom always cringed when my sister and I used to say, "You want to go with." That is, or started as, a Chicago area slang, and Newengland,
I also hate "Me and..., as well as putting down good when it should be well." I have a couple of other slang expressions that drive me nuts. In the Chicago area they say, "Jeet Jyet." This means, "Did you eat yet?" The other is from the Midwest. It goes, "Worsh." If you don't know that one, it means, "Wash." I must admit that I never could figure out the ." or ". things. If I got it mixed up, I am very sorry.

message 29: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15785 comments Mod
Maureen, saying them separately does work in the I/me dilemma.

Bill and me went to the market.
Bill went to the market.
I went to the market.
Me went to the market. Ack, no.
Bill and I went to the market.

He gave it to Bill and I.
He gave it to Bill.
He gave it to I. Ack, no.
He gave it to Bill and me.


message 30: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 10, 2008 04:16PM) (new)

i guess i sped read the post and transposed in my mind


perhaps not well oiled but more exposed to even just the vocabulary
noun verb adverb adjective so good so far
possesive ok owns it
subjective objective uhhhhh
let me go find a book

it's that simple-if i don't use it i lose it :)

message 31: by Ken (last edited Mar 10, 2008 05:25PM) (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
That's OK, Maureen. Losing it can be kind of fun (think of the things you've "lost" in life). Of course, finding it can be fun, too. And aren't I getting away with murder here on the lack of pronoun reference?

Hi Andi. Some of your peeves are regional things. I'm not a Mass. native, so I've run into a few myself:

In Massachusetts, they:

* call water fountains "bubblers"
* call soda "tonic"
* call milkshakes "frappes"
* call grinders "subs"
* call shots "jimmies"
* call r's "ahs"
* call everything "wicked"

Not that any of this upsets me. They can't help it. It's what they were weened on. In Connecticut, we know better.

message 32: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 10, 2008 05:47PM) (new)

ne are you baiting me?

mass imported wicked from maine of course

i once worked at a school in downeast maine (the real downeast well past "ba habr")

the custodian painted the words "NO PAKING" in the fire lane in front of the school

laughable maybe but right on phonetically in the vernacular

it's really a wonderful local dialect

i also know a woman there who calls herself tereser (theresa)

all that said, the book i mentioned previously, "The History of English Language" explains this occurance by explaining it's roots

my ex-mother-in-law used to say "spider" for an iron frying pan, "cut on or cut off" the lights and "warsh" for wash

the book told me that her ancestors who came from a small island in the chesapeake bay still spoke in a dialect that resembled elizabethan english more than standard modern "american" english because of their centuries of relative isolation on the island

i had no "idear" but i was a little less judgemental

message 33: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15785 comments Mod
My mother, from Connecticut, used to say

waist for blouse

pocketbook for purse

Ap-pricot instead of A-pricot

trolley instead of streetcar

And so, of course, did I. As a schoolkid I was embarrased and worked really hard to erase this kind of stuff from my vocabulary. Dumb.

message 34: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 10, 2008 10:28PM) (new)

my maine grandmother called a blouse-shirtwaist

she also cautioned me to never say i was mad but use angry instead (mad was crazy)

she also always corrected me when i
said "i hate" instead i was allowed to say "i dislike"
altho in that case i don't think it was a language issue but a moral one
hate being sinful

i also wish i'd retained more

message 35: by Ken (last edited Mar 11, 2008 02:31AM) (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Yes, everyone (in CT) says pocketbook for purse. And we eat supper, not dinner. Dinner is the grand affair you have mid-Sunday afternoon (say, at 3) instead of lunch or supper.

Richard -- I made the mistake of ordering a milkshake my first year in Mass. They served up this watery concoction worthy of a spittoon. "Where's the ice cream?" I demanded. "Oh, you want a frappe," they responded.

And CT may be one of the only states where they call "sprinkles" or "jimmies" on top of a sundae "shots." Also, in CT, we have "Package Stores," not Liquor Stores. How's THAT for high class? (You only buy a package, I mean. Even the minister cannot frown on THAT.)

There's nothing like a hot grinder from the Italian south end (Franklin Ave.) in Hartford. The rest of New England cannot match it. I've looked far and wide.

We used to say dungarees and sneakers, but that's probably just old-fashioned as opposed to a quirk of dialect. Now it's jeans and... OK, I admit it. I still show my age and say sneakers.

Oh. We say cellar for basement. And when I had to live in Jersey for 5 years (ugh), no one seemed to have hatchways into their cellars. I've seen it called bulkhead, but we called them hatchways. Great for water entry on monsoon Mondays.

Pop was something you matched with corn. I've noticed in Mass. that many use "Pop" for "Dad" (if capital P) and "pop" for soda (if lower case), but no one used that in CT that I can recall. Tonic was bitter -- quinine, to be specific. Soda was and is all that sweet crap -- Coca Cola, Pepsi, birch beer, cream, ginger ale, orange, grape, etc. I still can't believe I drank it, not to mention gallons upon gallons of "bug juice" (anything red and sweet that gave you a cherry mustache).

Ah, memories and language. They make you kind of sad in a lovely kind of way...

message 36: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Neat little anecdote there. Well written, too. After billions of grinders, they get to "retire" to the old country... maybe an Aegean island even.

Ever seen that cheesy B-movie, Summer Lovers, starring Daryl Hannah? Great footage of the Greek islands. And Daryl, if you like that kind of blonde girl burnished by the sun thing...

message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

daryl was too skinny and the wrong gender for me but the greek isles sound lovely
that is one place i've always wanted to visit
we had a great gyro place that had the same types (greek owners) for years in Portland Maine on Congress St.
i don't remember the name
and an italian place, another greek place, a bagel place called bagel one before bagels were popular
all sorts of little places
now they just have restaurants or starbucks
altho there are still a few coffee shops with some character here in san diego

crete---hmm :)

message 38: by Ken (last edited Mar 12, 2008 02:33AM) (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Crete? To me the sound is almost unreal. Mythological. Like Atlantis or something. As if you'd get off the plane, walk across the tarmac, and see the Minotaur having a ball (of yarn... for breakfast... at a quiet, sun-baked café called "Ariadne's").

Me, I could use a place that the rest of the world hasn't discovered yet. Once again, the enduring appeal of Crusoe's "dilemma"...

message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

yes i agree on it's mystique, just the sound makes me want to go there
discovered or not
i don't know if there truly are any undiscovered spots
we speak to new zealand and australia with ease
and i can not think of any untrammpled place
but less traveled, there are a few
and even the familiar often has small surprises
it is soooo busy here it's difficult to find quiet nooks but there are a few even in the busyness

message 40: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Speaking of "busyness" vs. "business," did you know that "business" is commonly misspelled as "buisness" by uncommon misspellers? I guess, phonetically, it makes sense, but I always thought it was mystifying how so many kids choose the exact same misspelling for certain words.

Spelling and the English Language make strange bedfellows. Here's a peeve: the most commonly known spelling rule of all ("i" before "e" except after "c") has so many exceptions as to render it this side (2.3 kilometers, to be exact) of useless.

Neighbor weighing in

message 41: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (last edited Mar 14, 2008 02:57AM) (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Did you mean 'kilometres' mayhap - neighbour?? (Ok ok!! I'll stop underscoring the English v American spelling issue)! I think 'i before e except after c' has a definite place in educational practice as the first example of a mnemonic that most people learn (along with 'when -ing comes to play, little -e runs away'). The fact that exceptions will continue to bank up over their years in school is neither here nor there really.

message 42: by Ken (last edited Mar 14, 2008 03:21PM) (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
I Before E Except for Many of the Words in this Play's-the-Thing

Wearing nondescript beige, the robber demanded pain-free codeine from the pharmacist, who, having a conscience, said, "You will never be deified if you continue a life of crime."

Thinking of his deity, the robber would not deign to listen to this lowly pharmacist. So he feigned anger, made a feint to the pharmacist's left, and behaved feisty in general (because the sergeant major was busy).

"I have a gun, so you lose!" the robber shouted eight times (to make a point). "Either you fork it over or I will play my dreidel on your pill-counting tray!"

"I forfeit," said the pharmacist.

"Heigh-ho!" shouted the Lone (Tonto was otherwise occupied) Ranger. "Give me your freight, fool!"

Swinging around, the robber said, "You do not cow me. You do not even heifer me. Step back while I continue with this heinous crime and become the heir apparent to Jesse James."

"That is the height of indecency, naming another masked marauder in front of my Loneliness," said the Lone Ranger. "This heist is over, thanks to my leitmotif."

"Leitmo what?" neighboring Tonto said. "That's neither here nor there, last I checked, Kemosabe."

"How prescient of you, Tonto," said the masked Ranger. "Long may you reign as my second fiddle while you rein in Bullet... um... Silver... or whatever that galloping glue factory is called out there."

"Are you insulting horses?" Tonto demanded. "Seize the moment and beg its forgiveness, for everyone knows that horses make for a better society than the ever-ungrateful white man."

"Back off, Sheik. We'll have none of that racist cant."

"Your sovereign started it with his usual surfeit of words."

"Our President?"

"Something along that vein. The weird guy with the big ears and the mouth problem."

"Is that a veiled reference about his intelligence, then?"

"Indeed. And by the way, your robber is long gone by now. As is anyone who started reading this bloody post."

"Wha--? Heigh-ho, Bullet... er... Silver. A-weigh!"

"I before E except for everything we just said," Tonto sighed.

message 43: by rivka (new)

rivka The full mnemonic is "I before E, except after C, or when sounding like "ay" -- as in "neighbor" or "weigh." Which takes care of most (although not all) of your "exceptions," no?

message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

i liked busyness so i left it

somehow the y seemed happier than an i

more in keeping with the sunshine outside

and the cars whizzing by

message 45: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
I am rendered almost speechless! I am weak with laughter!
I am printing it off!!!!(Is it yours???)

message 46: by Jeannette (new)

Jeannette (jeannetteh) | 22 comments Busyness vs. business - these seem very different words! "What business is it of yours? I have many things to do, and my busyness should not concern you."

Whaddya think?

message 47: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15785 comments Mod
By Jove, she's got it!


message 48: by Ken (last edited Mar 15, 2008 02:09AM) (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Hi, Jeannette (and welkommen, as they say in Munchen). Yes, there's a "business" and there's a "busyness" -- two distinct, functional words. I was just riffing on a very common misspelling that seemed to me (until I came to teaching) weird.

Debbie, the story is certainly mine (and pretty lame, I think, though I did just think it up as I typed along). I just used a list of "e before i words" and incorporated them into the narrative.

The moral of the story is that English spelling and English grammar are together rife with as many exceptions as they are rules. That's because the language is a veritable "melting pot" of linguistic hodgepodge (for $500, Alex).

message 49: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 6 comments A word I frequently see misspelled is "internet" in lieu of its proper spelling, "Internet." It's treated as a proper noun; therefore, always capital "I."

Am I correct?

message 50: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 6 comments Richard, that's a good one. Email or e-mail?

I lean more toward e-mail because it's electronc mail.

Dr. Grammar?

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