March 07, 2006

Grammar lesson

As readers of this blog know, I typically bang out some words on my keyboard and then publish. Proofreading? Spell-checking? These are things with which I'm acquainted and am well-versed in. However, blogging is an escape for me, which means that I spend very little time cleaning up until after the fact. And that cleaning occurs only if I actually notice the problems.

Having said that, let me state that there are many things that people constantly say that make me feel what other people must endure when hearing fingernails on a blackboard. Examples:

1) The overuse of filler words/phrases, especially that annoying bitch "you know". Parenthetical phrase: good. Overuse? Worthy of flogging. Here's a paraphrase of a speech that I heard from senior management recently:

You know, as we proceed along this path, we're likely, you know, to find, you know, obstacles in our way. As these obstacles, you know, appear, we should find ways to, you know, fix them in a way, you know, that prevents them from, you know, happening again.

The speech didn't continue because I threw the offender through the nearest window. Alas, the last was but a blissful daydream.

2) The use of "I" when "me" is correct, especially in prepositional phrases. For instance: "Someone made it for Dan and I" or " They gave it to Sheila and I". Each time I hear such nonsense, my first impulse is to shout "STOP! YOU'RE MAKING MY HEAD HURT!" But I refrain, because smacking them with an aluminum baseball just feels better.

3) Please, please, please, for the love of God, stop saying "I could care less" when you obviously mean "I couldn't care less". Whenever someone uses the first phrasing, I usually say " So you actually do care?" Their response is always, "No, I don't. That's why I said that I could care less." If the idiocy in that statement isn't apparent, I can't help you.

Anyway, it turns out that I'm not the only one with language issues. Excerpt:

When I travel, I don’t need to be treated like Hyacinth Bucket. I want you to understand I speak like you do and that I’ll understand perfectly if you say there’s a kettle in my room. You don’t have to say there are “tea and coffee making facilities”.

And please, can you stop saying “at all” after every question. Can I take your coat at all? Would you care for lunch at all? Or, this week, on a flight back from Scandinavia, “Another beverage for yourself at all, sir?” What’s the matter with saying “Another drink?” And what’s with all the reflexive pronoun abuse? I’ve written about this before but it’s getting worse. Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and the object of a sentence are the same person or thing. Like “I dress myself”. You cannot therefore say “please contact myself”. Because it makes you look like an imbecile.

If you send a letter to a client saying “my team and me look forward to meeting with yourself next Wednesday”, be prepared for some disappointment. Because if I were the client I’d come to your office all right. Then I’d stand on your desk and relieve myself.

I’m not a grammar freak — I can eat, shoot and then take it or leave it — but when someone says “myself” instead of “me” I find it more offensive than if they’d said

“spastic wog”.

Before embarking on a sentence, work out first of all what’s the shortest way of saying it, not the longest. There seems to be a general sense that using more words than is strictly necessary is somehow polite. That’s almost certainly why, on another flight the other day, I was offered some “bread items”.

So. What bugs you?

Posted by: Physics Geek at 01:36 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
Post contains 635 words, total size 4 kb.

1 One I hate is "In fact". Do you lie to me so much that when you do tell the truth, you have to inform me? When asked how the dog got out, don't say "I did, in fact, shut the door." Dang nabbit just say, "I shut the door." But the one I really can't stand is when someone describing a conversation says, "Then I go..." Then she goes..." If you both "go" you no longer can converse.

Posted by: Frank Borger at March 09, 2006 01:05 PM (Ycmou)

2 "Unique" is an absolute. A thing either is or isn't unique. It doesn't come in degrees. Something can't be "sort of unique" or "very unique" You can "revolve around", or you can "center on", but it's geometrically impossible to "center around", although it's a popular phrase. Finally - "the reason is that", NOT "the reason is because" I'm, you know, done, like, now :-)

Posted by: Harvey at March 12, 2006 12:55 AM (ubhj8)

3 The improper substitution of "I" in place of "me" drives me crazy because it seems to be made by people trying to falsely present themselves as being intelligent or pretentious rather than by those simply making a mistake, which is easy to excuse. "Lie" and "lay" are two other words that are frequently and incorrectly interchanged. A filler phrase that drives me nuts is the frequently used "I mean," which replaced "you know" from my generation. Hey, I mean, you know, like, uh, man, ....why are things that used to be "cool" now considered "hot?" Finally, I go crazy when people never end sentences in speaking and go on a filibuster by connecting sentences with "and;" thus, never giving anyone else a chance to interject. I do taxes for a living, and I found that more people use the term "return" when they should use "refund." You get a tax "refund" after you file your tax "return," (and paid in more than you owe.) Using proper speech and spelling shows respect for your readers. However, I blame the schools more than personal disrespect or laziness.

Posted by: Woody at March 12, 2006 03:54 PM (v5VVJ)

4 Easily the most annoying thing to me is the complete death of the adverb. He shot "real good" in the final game. Doesn't that just grate? It is always impressive when you can use two consecutive words and make two mistakes.

Posted by: Mike at March 13, 2006 09:47 AM (zjIXR)

5 I just hate when people start every story with the same phrase. There is a a girl I work with that starts every slightly amusing tale with, "Funny story...". It drives me batty. Especially since half of her stories aren't even close to funny.

Posted by: Contagion at March 13, 2006 06:01 PM (e8b4J)

6 Not a grammar gripe, but I've always cringed at the improper pronunciation of "forte" (properly pronounced fort not fortay)). I find it especially appealing when people lean on the last (mythical) syllable to emphasize their sophistication. If you've never read There's no Zoo in Zoology, I highly recommend it, though it will lead to a whole new class of pet peeves.

Posted by: geoff at March 14, 2006 05:48 AM (vpYuK)

7 "Comprised of".

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at March 14, 2006 04:38 PM (eZ0vq)

8 I am always jarred from my train of thought when I see or hear someone use the word "as" when they mean "because." For example, "I went to the mall as I had promised to meet my mother there." This sounds like a grammatical affectation, and the detection of simlar affectations seems to be at the heart of many of the pet peeves expressed here.

Posted by: joan at March 27, 2006 04:24 PM (lICmS)

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