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#1 Jim A.

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 06:15 PM

One of my pet peeves in life is when somehow, "somewhen", somebody injects a new word or phrase into the English (or any) language without checking to see if it is linquistically or grammatically correct or not.
Does anybody else have this problem?
Examples I think of right off are:

"Went missing"--For most of my life, anchorpersons and others used the phrase "became missing" or "was reported missing"; when did the phrase change to "went missing", and who decided to do that?
"Party" as a legitimate verb--for instance, "They went to Las Vegas to party all night long"; again, for most of my years, the word "party" was always a noun. However, somewhere, sometime, somebody decided to make it a verb and that change was accepted by most people.
"Heroine" being applied to actual female heroes; I always thought that the word "heroine" applied only to female heroes in a fictional work of literature, not to real people; real-life women heroes were exactly that--heroes.

This might sound picky, but anytime the language--of any country--is changed through the back door, it disturbs me.
Anyway, can anyone think of any other examples?

#2 Carlos

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 06:27 PM

But all languages change with time, and you have to understand that just because a language is changing it doesn't mean it is necessarily degrading.

#3 TexasTeacherMom

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 04:10 AM

I take the view that language is a function, not a form. It is a tool used to communicate. It naturally changes and to try and prevent such changes would involve using more energy than it takes to just stay current on the new usage and phrases.

On another note, I think language change is fascinating to study. It's a back door to studying our history.

Language, being a natural residue of our thinking, is a medium of expression and it's natural that we want to be creative with it.

Unwritten rules are there and they are what allow us to understand what a person means when they say "party" as a verb. Written rules serve a purpose but to treat them as absolute laws would be as absurd and making up similar rules about paiting and music.

#4 Arnold

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 10:59 AM

There has been a big shift. The classical English we have today come to us through educated men such a Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson and Caxton. They actually set the standards, along with traditionalists who put the "b" in debt, so to speak. It is not so much the changes that bother me, as the changes being made by the most ignorant. Ghetto language for example.


There are other common usages that grate. Instead of saying something was more fun than imagined, they say "funner". Another that bothers me is "impact" the verb, as, 'impact on the results'. Whatever happened to "affect?" Mostly, it is the disintegration of English through laziness and ignorance that grieves me, not the gradual evolution led by the standard setters.

The irony is that while I can see this lack of standards, I was at the bottom of my class at school; put back two years in fact. I expected to always be able to look upward from that position, being comfortable that others would always be there to set the standards. Now there is no spelling, no grammar and no phonetics in many schools.

#5 Jim A.

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 05:53 PM

I disagree with the view (expressed in post #3) that it is all right to be "creative" with language. Being creative with language is certainly appropriate in poetry and works of fiction such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But I believe language as a tool, not just of communication, but primarily of cognition, is to be protected at all rational costs.
The character of Syme in Nineteen Eighty-Four was a warning to all of us; there are people out there who truly want to destroy language. Granted, there are many more people who destroy the language by daily habit and default, but nevertheless I don't think it is ever safe to be sloppy about language and grammar. We need language to express our thoughts, precisely and clearly, and we need grammar (e.g., punctuation) to enable us to separate, sub-divide and organize the thoughts we express in sentence form. Language is to communication like mathematics is to the creative architect--his creation will not stand long without a sound mathematics, with absolute laws, to support it. Without a sound language--with rules--whatever we wish to communicate, over time, will deteriorate.
But, most importantly, it is our minds that we protect from the Symes of the world when we preserve and maintain the language we use to think with.

#6 Kitty Hawk

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 01:39 AM

I think there is a long history of nouns being appropriated for use as a verb. I think there is a specific name for that, but I can't think of it. I don't have any problem with the verb "party." It serves a useful purpose. What other word would describe what such people are doing?

What bothers me is when people create words that are completely superfluous, just to seem clever. I saw Joe Kernan, on CNBC, a while ago, just ecstatically announcing that the pseudo-word "ginormous" had been put into some dictionary or other. He uses that non-word, and thinks it's clever, when it is simply idiotic. He, and others, simply combine "gigantic" and "enormous" for no discernible reason, and use it in place of "gigantic" or "enormous" or "huge", any one of which would be perfectly adequate.

#7 David T. McKee

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 03:24 PM

I disagree with the view (expressed in post #3) that it is all right to be "creative" with language. Being creative with language is certainly appropriate in poetry and works of fiction such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But I believe language as a tool, not just of communication, but primarily of cognition, is to be protected at all rational costs.


Language is a tool - and the way it is being used today is akin to hammering in a nail with a precision microscope. You can do it, but you damage the microscope irreparably with each blow. As time passes the precision and meaning of words disappear, and with them the ability to use them in thought.

"Don’t set out to raze all shrines—you’ll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity, and the shrines are razed." - and so it goes with language.
(quote of Ellsworth Toohey).
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Between the proudest words
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Once, with heads held high
They sang out to the sky
Why do their shadows bow in fear?"

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#8 JeffT

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 04:12 AM

What bothers me is when people create words that are completely superfluous, just to seem clever. I saw Joe Kernan, on CNBC, a while ago, just ecstatically announcing that the pseudo-word "ginormous" had been put into some dictionary or other. He uses that non-word, and thinks it's clever, when it is simply idiotic. He, and others, simply combine "gigantic" and "enormous" for no discernible reason, and use it in place of "gigantic" or "enormous" or "huge", any one of which would be perfectly adequate.

That example particularly bothers me, too. The people who use it advertise to the world (unknowingly, which compounds the effect) that they are unaware of the differences in connotation and meaning between the two words and don't care. I have seen other examples of combining two synonyms into one word, usually used matter-of-factly with no apparent reasons justifying the new "word".

#9 Mindy Newton

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 07:16 PM

What bothers me is when people create words that are completely superfluous, just to seem clever. I saw Joe Kernan, on CNBC, a while ago, just ecstatically announcing that the pseudo-word "ginormous" had been put into some dictionary or other. He uses that non-word, and thinks it's clever, when it is simply idiotic. He, and others, simply combine "gigantic" and "enormous" for no discernible reason, and use it in place of "gigantic" or "enormous" or "huge", any one of which would be perfectly adequate.

That example particularly bothers me, too. The people who use it advertise to the world (unknowingly, which compounds the effect) that they are unaware of the differences in connotation and meaning between the two words and don't care. I have seen other examples of combining two synonyms into one word, usually used matter-of-factly with no apparent reasons justifying the new "word".



I've noticed over the past couple of years that we are losing the term, "take." School children in my area all say "bring" when they should use "take," such as: "Can we bring it when we go to school tomorrow?"
Recently, I saw this error in a TV commercial!

#10 jordanz

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 07:34 PM

My feeling is that people should, at least, _know_ correct usage. Of course, correct usage has changed over time. But, today, there is an objectively correct way to use the language. If that changes in the future, fine. What annoys me is people speaking without any knowledge that they're using a word (or syntax) incorrectly.

Tangentially, the culture is currently trying find a replacement for gender specific pronouns - "One small step for man". Besides the irrational multi-culturalists who want to change the language, I think there needs to be a better way to refer to unknown individuals. Signs like "Men Working", or a phrase like "someone lost his keys" grate on my ears.

#11 Rose Lake

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 08:10 PM

One by one last to first:

The gender thing: Maybe someday this can be addressed, but I think this can occur in a natural way after the culture is more rational. Right now, this problem is too prone to be taken up by the concrete-bound egalitarian mentality.

Can't one bring something to school? I'm sure it's fine to take it, but it seems to me that one also brings it. I don't see how that's an 'error.'

I find ginormous to be funny. It does have (to me) a connotation that's useful, i.e. I always think it means -- "bigger than either of those" (gigantic or enormous). I have, however, never used this one myself. I might be persuaded that it shouldn't be put in the dictionary, except that language does evolve, and that evolution is not always determined by the most educated. Consistent popular usage over a long period of time often (not always) means that people find a term to be legitimately useful.

Impact on the results does seems little explosive. ;)

I don't know if there is more, but I have to stop here - for now. I'm out of time.
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#12 jordanz

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 08:30 PM

The gender thing: Maybe someday this can be addressed, but I think this can occur in a natural way after the culture is more rational. Right now, this problem is too prone to be taken up by the concrete-bound egalitarian mentality.


I'll bet "they their" is the replacement. I realize that it really rubs some the wrong way, but my ears are becoming very accustomed to "Someone lost their keys".

#13 Mindy Newton

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 09:05 PM

One by one last to first:

The gender thing: Maybe someday this can be addressed, but I think this can occur in a natural way after the culture is more rational. Right now, this problem is too prone to be taken up by the concrete-bound egalitarian mentality.

Can't one bring something to school? I'm sure it's fine to take it, but it seems to me that one also brings it. I don't see how that's an 'error.'

I find ginormous to be funny. It does have (to me) a connotation that's useful, i.e. I always think it means -- "bigger than either of those" (gigantic or enormous). I have, however, never used this one myself. I might be persuaded that it shouldn't be put in the dictionary, except that language does evolve, and that evolution is not always determined by the most educated. Consistent popular usage over a long period of time often (not always) means that people find a term to be legitimately useful.

Impact on the results does seems little explosive. ;)

I don't know if there is more, but I have to stop here - for now. I'm out of time.


Yes, lol: You had better bring your homework when you come to school tomorrow...if that is said by someone who is, at the time they speak, at school! If the speaker is at home, they must say the student had better take his homework to school.
Just for the record: "Bring" transports something to where the speaker is at the time he speaks. "Take" transports something from where the speaker is at the time he speaks, elsewhere. If the statement is so elaborate as to say from where the transporter is leaving and to where he is going, "take" fits.
Do you make the distinction differently?

#14 Mindy Newton

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 09:11 PM

One by one last to first:

The gender thing: Maybe someday this can be addressed, but I think this can occur in a natural way after the culture is more rational. Right now, this problem is too prone to be taken up by the concrete-bound egalitarian mentality.

Can't one bring something to school? I'm sure it's fine to take it, but it seems to me that one also brings it. I don't see how that's an 'error.'

I find ginormous to be funny. It does have (to me) a connotation that's useful, i.e. I always think it means -- "bigger than either of those" (gigantic or enormous). I have, however, never used this one myself. I might be persuaded that it shouldn't be put in the dictionary, except that language does evolve, and that evolution is not always determined by the most educated. Consistent popular usage over a long period of time often (not always) means that people find a term to be legitimately useful.

Impact on the results does seems little explosive. ;)

I don't know if there is more, but I have to stop here - for now. I'm out of time.


Yes, lol: You had better bring your homework when you come to school tomorrow...if that is said by someone who is, at the time they speak, at school! If the speaker is at home, they must say the student had better take his homework to school.
Just for the record: "Bring" transports something to where the speaker is at the time he speaks. "Take" transports something from where the speaker is at the time he speaks, elsewhere. If the statement is so elaborate as to say from where the transporter is leaving and to where he is going, "take" fits.
Do you make the distinction differently?

I'm new to this site, and couldn't find an edit button. My last statement needs qualification. Instead of an abstract characterization, I think a set of examples would be good:
Erroneous uses of "bring:" "Bring your shoes to your room, they are in the way here."
"When you go to camp, bring your toothbrush."

#15 Rose Lake

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 05:57 PM

One by one last to first:
Can't one bring something to school? I'm sure it's fine to take it, but it seems to me that one also brings it. I don't see how that's an 'error.'

Yes, lol: You had better bring your homework when you come to school tomorrow...if that is said by someone who is, at the time they speak, at school! If the speaker is at home, they must say the student had better take his homework to school.
Just for the record: "Bring" transports something to where the speaker is at the time he speaks. "Take" transports something from where the speaker is at the time he speaks, elsewhere. If the statement is so elaborate as to say from where the transporter is leaving and to where he is going, "take" fits.
Do you make the distinction differently?

No, I just didn't know what the distinction was, so thanks Mindy, for the information. I love folks who know this kind of thing, so I hope to hear more from you. It's even possible that I've been told this before, and that it didn't stick. In any case, thanks again for the answer.

It might have helped if I'd just looked up the words in the dictionary. But even after I read your answer, and thought of looking them up, I didn't want to, because I knew these would be words where the definitions would go on and on and on. I did, however, look up bring. And I was pleased to find that although the definition did go on and on (one and a half 10" x 2.25" columns of ~ eight point type in Webster's Intl., 2nd Ed.) the distinction between bring and take is right there in the beginning, where it ought to be. Well I'll be...
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#16 Capitalism Forever

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 06:48 PM

Tangentially, the culture is currently trying find a replacement for gender specific pronouns - "One small step for man". Besides the irrational multi-culturalists who want to change the language, I think there needs to be a better way to refer to unknown individuals. Signs like "Men Working", or a phrase like "someone lost his keys" grate on my ears.

Why? It is not unusual for English words to have more than one meaning; "his" is simply one of those words. Should a phrase like "this is a hot topic" grate on my ears because a topic doens't actually have a temperature?

There is no way to derive an ought a shalst from an is.


#17 la zafada

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 07:16 PM

[...] can anyone think of any other examples?


I've seen a lot of back constructions from nouns to verbs, usually with that "ate" suffix, which wipe out the correct verb, like "administrate" instead of "administer," "interpretate" instead of "interpret," and four or five others.

The preposition is being destroyed, particularly "of," which is usually replaced by "for," i.e., "We calculated the height of each step" is now "We calculated the height for each step." "Couple of" is usually now just "couple." "He drank a couple Cokes." Prepositions that usually followed verbs are leaving the language. "Graduated college" used to be "graduated from college." "Departing the airport" used to be "departing from the airport."

The distinction between "it's" and "its" seems to be disappearing, I suspect due to the Microsoft spell checker. Carrying that further, I've even seen "her's."

On the other hand, there are some cute new terms like "grandmacita." But that's a growth of English, not a brutalization.
la zafada

#18 Betsy Speicher

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 08:21 PM

"Couple of" is usually now just "couple." "He drank a couple Cokes." Prepositions that usually followed verbs are leaving the language. "Graduated college" used to be "graduated from college." "Departing the airport" used to be "departing from the airport."

The disappearance of "of" and "from" in the above contexts omits a word while retaining all of the meaning. Since the purpose of concepts and words is unit economy, I think the elimination of unnecessary words is actually good.
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#19 Mindy Newton

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 09:02 PM

"Couple of" is usually now just "couple." "He drank a couple Cokes." Prepositions that usually followed verbs are leaving the language. "Graduated college" used to be "graduated from college." "Departing the airport" used to be "departing from the airport."

The disappearance of "of" and "from" in the above contexts omits a word while retaining all of the meaning. Since the purpose of concepts and words is unit economy, I think the elimination of unnecessary words is actually good.


There is a problem with making that kind of justification, Betsy. Grammatical rules are eroded if we don't follow them even in particular cases in which they don't make a difference.
Of course, these changes are in particular phrases, almost idioms, one might say. But until they become as solid in the public mind as idioms, they teach and exercize us in violating rules we very much need for our language to be capable, as a tool, of doing as much as possible.
Especially in the case of philosophy, where fine distinctions are sometimes of the utmost importance, the ability to think straight and especially to communicate subtleties depends on our having a full-fledged, fully articulated grammar. Take a phrase such as, "That than which nothing greater can be conceived..." it takes a well-developed agility of grammar to grasp it without a bit of analysis.
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#20 Carlos

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 09:25 PM

I want to repeat what I said earlier:

But all languages change with time, and you have to understand that just because a language is changing it doesn't mean it is necessarily degrading.


You really need to differentiate between what is simply the language evolving with time vs an actual slow destruction of the language through poor education. And I say this as someone whose best friend for several years has been a PhD student in historical linguistics!

Many people end sentences with prepositions when that is supposedly a bad thing, but the whole rule of "don't end a sentence with a preposition" was artificially tacked on by snooty scholars as an attempt to standardize English in a way inspired by Latin. So you could fairly say this is something we shouldn't have a problem with ;)




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