Friday, December 15, 2006

Things that Bother the Word Sheriff

Stuck in the craw of the grammar police:

Unique - One of a kind, so it's not "very unique," or "most unique." It's unique. Period.

Irregardless - Double negative. The dictionary claims it is a word, but it should not be used. Amen. Just say regardless.

Could care less - Aaaargh. This has crept into the language. Should be "couldn't care less." If you could care less then what's the point of saying it?

Nuclear - People hear this mispronounced as "new-cue-lar", so they follow suit. What could be simpler to pronounce? Nu=new, clear=clear. It doesn't help that the leader of our nation always mispronounces it.

Got beat - Common error by sportscasters and those who would listen to them too much. A team or individual "was beaten," or the Illini were beaten.

It's and Its - Common error in writing is putting an apostrophe for the possessive, which is wrong. Correct - "The buffalo drank its fill." Apostrophe is inserted only for "it is." "It's a nice day."

From the sheriff's file of infrequently used words: Clowder. No, not a short version of clam chowder, but . . . a group of cats. Fancy that.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kinda cranky, aren't we?

SF

Tom said...

The sheriff had too much wine at the Paragraph Saloon. Too many predicate adjectives and dangling participles to deal with.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! "I could care less" indicates that you do care, when the point is that you do not care and could not possibly care less. Perhaps it is a small matter, but it is one of those things that just drives me nuts (blame my father). By the way, shouldn't it be "dangling participles with which to deal?"

Tom said...
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Tom said...

Clich├ęs are especially prone to scrambling because they become meaningless through overuse. In this case an expression which originally meant “it would be impossible for me to care less than I do because I do not care at all” is rendered senseless by being transformed into the now-common “I could care less.” Think about it: if you could care less, that means you care some. The original already drips sarcasm, so it’s pointless to argue that the newer version is “ironic.” People who misuse this phrase are just being careless.

And"with which to deal"? No. You're under arrest.

Anonymous said...

Not so fast, Sheriff....I believe that "with" is a preposition, and sentences should not end in a preposition. I realize it sounds very awkward and somewhat pretentious, but I didn't make up the rules. I'm only the "cookie sheriff."

Tom said...

It is acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition when the subject precedes the preposition.

Debbie said...

Okay, Smarty-pants, I surrender. But I suspect you are now making up your own rules!

Tom said...

Google search the phrase "ending a sentence with a preposition." I rest my case.

princess said...

People accuse me of being a spelling and grammar "brat". Apparently I get it from both sides!

"I could care less" drives me nuts, too. I was taught (by both of you) at an early age that this was incorrect. Of course, you both still feel the need to correct me constantly. Go ahead and get out your red felt pen and point out my mistakes!