Monday, September 13, 2010

Malapropisms and mispronunciations

I’ve been a stickler for language since I was in 7th grade, which means I’ve one persnickety fuck for decades. I try to tamp down my know-it-all-ness when a friend or relative mangles the mother tongue (luckily I surround myself with really smart people) but nevertheless, I internally cringe when someone busts out a malaprop or mispronounces a word.

There are words and phrase that have been around since the dawn of the OED, or at least since we’ve been alive. It’s harder to forgive the repeated slip of the tongue. That makes me think you just don’t give a rat’s ass.

In junior high, I did a paper on anorexia. I love my mother but to this day, she refers to it as “anorexis nervosis.” I can’t fix this, or her repeated use of “reinerate” (vs. reiterate) and “bookoo bucks." I still haven’t figured out what the eff she means when she breaks out “coup ferré.”

To me, the most oft-misused and ear-bleeding offense is “irregardless.” When I worked at a publishing company, the editors would roll our internal eyes every time the owner threw that out in a meeting. Let me reiterate: I worked at a PUBLISHING company. Dude should have known better. Better yet, dude should have been punched in the face.

And if I hear someone bust out "nuculur," I'm going to mushroom cloud all over them, regardless of whether they were once president.

What language offense most gripes your ass?

(photo: comiccoverage.typepad.com)

47 comments:

Generic Jen B said...

Does she mean "coup fourre"?

My husband is French and mangles his own language. He says "en entendant" ("while I listen") instead of "en attendant" ("while I wait") which is awful because it means that he just repeats things he has misheard like a parrot instead of actually thinking about what he's saying. His misery is compounded by the fact that I've been correcting him for 3 years and I'm not even French.

I will not let it go!

mduette said...

In another life, I managed at a large bookstore chain that rhymes with Blarney Snoble. Our "team" once got a regional award, signed by our regional director, congratulating us for our outstanding ACHIEVMENT.
I photocopied it and saved it.

I still can't figure out if it makes me more amused or horrified.

Other ones that makes me cringe are "expecially" and "ascared".

Peace said...

THEN and THAN, why the fuck can't you people get that?

There, their, they're, can't HEAR it said wrong but seeing it in writing bugs the shit out of me.

Here in Colorado, we have a city called PUEBLO. How could you eff that up? I grew up with everyone calling PEE-eblo. Why?

I have an English friend who uses the term "while" instead of "until", as in "I'll do this while dinner's done." I know it's probably proper usage in England, but they put extra 'u's in everything. So eff 'em.

kristi noser said...

Apostrophe's on plural word's. S'eems s'ome people can't s'ee an e's's without plopping in an a'strophe.

DaddyGregor said...

Unless I missed the memo on this one, there is no such thing as a "Stragety" session. No matter how much we might need one, we do not develop "Stragetization" Plans. And for the love of all that is good and holy... it is NOT "Strageto" by Milton Bradley games.

I had the great fortune to work with some very clever folks in Germany around the turn of the Millennia. Early on in that effort, one of my colleagues thought it would be cute to intentionally misuse that word at every opportunity around our native German speaking hosts, and see what happened. The result: 3 years later, their corporate governance documents and shareholder's reports had a section on Market Penetration Stragety. I kid you not.

If there was any doubt left that they would soon be out of business, it went away from my mind that day.

Wilma NC said...

I don't know if it's correct, but I hate it when someone asks "Can I come with?" I always so "No, but you can come along." I don't know if that correct either, but it sounds better to me, lol.

CarlaCarlaCarlaCarla said...

Something tells me Jen's family played a lot of Mille Bornes.

An elderly relative from backwoods Mississippi gets kindly chilled when the heater's set below 80°. And each year my husband asks me to renew his Popular Science prescription.

I'm fixinta go check the Sunday paper for blazer raid coupons.

Stephanie said...

My Mom says, "I'm going to THE Safeways". That makes me think she's getting old.

Heather said...

I recently heard that irregardless is going to be added to the dictionary. I don't know if it's true or not, but if it is I might switch over to another language. I'm starting to think that instead of learning to speak correctly, we're just going to add the screwed up words to our language. It makes me want to cry.

My co-worker says 'onliest.' She's the onliest one who's working on Friday.

Jennifer Worick said...

Thanks to CarlaCarlaCarlaCarla, I just pulled out my box of Mille Bornes and learned that Coup Ferré means counterthrust in fencing and is a play you can make in the card game. Far out. I'll have to pay attention next time my Mom pulls that phrase out of her sleeve.

Andrea said...

I work in the wine industry. I get annoyed when people mix complement with compliment. One is not saying something nice about the wine, one is saying something pairs nicely with the wine.

Glenn said...

I COULD care less, but if I COULD, I guess I COULDN'T care less if one would suffocate after punching one's nose through the back of one's skull.

Karen S said...

"Go by grandma." "Go over by her." Or maybe it's "go buy grandma." Is she for sale? NO!

The worst thing is that I hear this most often when people are speaking to children. No wonder their language sucks! I think this must be a mid-western thing. Go over by there, please...EEEEK!

listedmal said...

I used to work at a coffee joint and I hated it when people said eXpresso...you want an ESPRESSO, then to get on the highway?

My step mom calls basmati rice "basimiti" and deja-vu "diji-vu". My sister classifies EVERY action that she doesn't like as "being rude", including but not limited to people not driving the speed limit, political ideals that differ her own, eating meat, etc.

Visitation said...

When people insist on using texting language in correspondance. Also, when people use words like, feelin, lovin, sleepin, working, huntin, etc. Are we that lazy that we can't fully spell out words or put the 'g' in ing?

Skooks said...

I once had a roommate who left me a note that we were out of "torlet" paper and could I pick some up. I thought maybe her handwriting was just kinda messy so I jokingly pointed it out to her later when I saw her. She got really confused and said, "how else could you spell torlet if you don't use an "r"?" "?!!"

The real kicker was she was a teacher.

Zazzu said...

Glenn beat me to it, but people who say they "could care less", when they mean they "COULDN'T care less" really should have some heavy equipment dropped on their heads.

I've been reading a lot of "are" instead of "our" lately. As in, "It's are turn to be unemployed." Yeah, big surprise there, Genius.

The your/you're mixing up still drives me nuts. When, oh WHEN, will people ever learn the difference?

Lostinloops said...

If "ain't" counts, I would say that. Jeez, I live in one of the most urban regions of Alabama, and I have a neighbor straight out of Podunksville. I can't get him to stop saying "ain't" or things like "I done told him." Erg, it's getting on my nerves. I swear, I'm getting out of this rathole called the South as soon as I can.

susanc said...

It drives me crazy when people use "disorientated" instead of disoriented.

Yet Another Steve said...

For some reason I'm maddened by people who use archaic forms of English without a CLUE as to how to do it right. "Oh I liketh that a lot!" and "That goest against the grain" and so on. Argh. Either learn the rules or don't go there. Otherwise you're just advertising yourself as the kind of person who'd say "We goed to the store and buying dinner. She have plenty of money."

scott said...

The old "is because" makes me bananas. It is the same word!

Jeff Orchard said...

"How come" (instead of "why"). "Unthaw" (instead of "thaw"). "On purpose" (instead of "purposefully"). Then again, I used to think "aluvasudden" was one word ("All of a sudden").

Wendi said...

I find it incredibly annoying when people use "supposably" and think it's correct. I also don't understand why adults call it a "libary" (lie berry). And one that most people don't even know is wrong: hopefully. Hopefully is an adverb. It modifies a verb, as in "I waited hopefully for my prince to arrive." We should be saying, "I am hopeful that..."

Barbara said...

Well, irregardless was my fave a while back; but my new fave that I hear ALL THE TIME now is "Deja vu all over again."

Now I'm not French, and I don't speak French. But I took two years in high school, and if I'm correct, "Deja vu," translated literally, means something like "hindsight." And that would translate into something like, "Seen it before." So to say "Deja vu all over again," is kind of like saying "All over again, all over again." It's redundant!

People, the phrase is "Deja vu." Period. Or if you prefer, "All over again." But not both.

Kelly said...

I snicker at people when they pronounce the “e” at the end of forte. Unless you’re using it in a musical context, it’s pronounced “fort,” not “fort-ay.”

As for “Deja vu all over again,” the people I know who use that are quoting Yogi Berra and saying it specifically to be funny. When people say stupid things, I don’t mind so much if I know they’re doing it intentionally.

bonnie said...

I have a sister-in-law who says "let's get down to brass" tactics" and "it's six of one, a dozen of the other". Huh?

Joy K. said...

"Loose" and "lose" don't have the same meaning. Please stop confusing them, world!

Magnolia said...

M personal annoyances are jew-LER-ry, (it's jew-EL-ry, people!!) and Real-A-tor. There's no A there...let's say it together: Realtor...very good!

Auntie Raquel said...

I want to scream when people say "pitcher" instead of "picture." As in, "I took 500 pitchers on my vacation."
"Really? Why would you bring along 500 containers used for pouring beverages on your vacation?"

Terri said...

Is it a new class indicator to say "He borrowed me some money" when in fact he actually LOANED you some money? Oh, and I always cringe when I hear someone say they "axed" somebody. Having grown up in Philly, that could only mean one thing to me.

Rhonda said...

My husband still says "Happy Valentime's Day" to me once a year. Yeah, sweetie, thanks for making me cringe. And even though he's successful in business, I still have to tell him that the correct term is "fiscal" not "physical". Geez.

I have a coworker who always says "of a morning" where I think she should be saying "every morning". As in, "I think I'll start walking a mile of a morning." In what world does that make sense?

Misspelled words always glare at me, but I've learned to cope with that problem since the about the age of eight.

Oh, and I used to think that lmnop was one word, but grew out of that in Kindergarten.

Micah said...

My dad has a unique one I haven't encountered anywhere else: when a person didn't sleep at all, they "stood up all night". I think the past tense of "stay" is what he was going for, but he has always said "stood".

Boston is known for it's abuse of the letter R, but it has many other unique pronunciations such as "youje" for "huge".

Celeste Bergin said...

Jennifer, I had a Mom like your (RIP) who mispronounced all sorts of stuff and there would have been no point in trying to correct her. She always said "heart attact" (this was said often, since she survived one). For some bizarre reason she pronounced Miami Myamah. WHY??? She even put her own spin on my first name. She called me "Pa-treesha" (which I kind of liked, but never understood where she got that!)

Tiny Mush Mouth said...

I love, love, love all of language including the "mistakes" that seem to bother everyone so very much. By calling them mistakes and suggesting that language, which is as wily and ever-changing creature as any I can think of, should be a solid thing it seems to me that we are doing nothing more than marking ourselves as (smugly) superior, and frankly, a little bit controlling. If you're into that kind of thing, have at it, but unless something really (really, really) does get in the way of understanding it's much more fun to enjoy the wide variety of people and the way they talk.

Jamie said...

"Wala" or "wa-la" or "wah-lah" or any variant that isn't "voilà" or at minimum "voila". Like others above, I know jack shit about French, but I at least know that it's a French word and what letter it starts with...

Cathy Kumma said...

I don't know what's so hard about the difference between "it's" and "its." If you can't replace "it's" with "it is" or "it has," LEAVE OUT THE DAMN APOSTROPHE. I can't understand why otherwise smart people can't seem to get this one.

The Quilted Finish ph 02 63310084 said...

Another one is to and too. Also the word specifically pronounced "pacifically" UHH? I live in Australia where "ask" is pronounced with the "a" the same as the English pronounce "arse" and I have heard people who say "arks" when they mean to say "ask" WTF?

jcoberly1 said...

When my daughter was in kindergarten and would get something wrong on her papers the teacher would put "ops" instead of "oops" on the paper. My mother in law won't say "against" she says "again it". My grandmother would say "gar-deen" instead of "guardian" and "warsh" instead of "wash". This list could go on!

creativegoddess said...

OMG! These are hilarious.

@Jamie - Wala drives me nuts!!!
@Heather - We have a restaurant in Raleigh named 'Irregardless.' ;)

But when a co-worker once said I'd go far because I had 'sticktuitiveness' I almost imploded.

Fanboy Wife said...

I have a relative who says "warsh" and "wrastling." I also hear "lie-berry" more often than I can stand.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to note to the world that there is "a whole nother" term for what was just said. The word is "another." Or, if the "whole" must be included, "a whole other." Please try to decide.

Anonymous said...

It drives me crazy when people confuse "effect" & "affect".

Anonymous said...

I know this is an onomatopoeia and I should cut my family some slack, but holy cow... How hard is it to distinguish between "yea" and "yeah?" Not too tough if you compar them to any other similarly-formatted word.

The other one that makes me crazy is when people say "I've been itching this mosquito bite all night!" WTF? You mean you've been scratching the itch all night! Itch is not a noun - for the love of Mike!

troll hunter said...

I find it amusing when Americans mispronounce the following:
oregano - It's 'or-e-gar-know' not 'or-regg-a-know'
aluminum-It's 'al-you-min-ee-um' not 'al-loo-minum'

You crazy Yanks!!!

Anonymous said...

I remember a company-wide letter written and distributed proudly by a supervisor of our 40 person department which boasted of how "INTRICAL" our team was to the success of the company.
That and the spoken "SELF-EXTEEM" which I was told I needed to improve. A minute to witness, a lifetime to forget.

Anonymous said...

Simular?! Ack!

TimPrice said...

I have a running "gun battle" with ad agencies and voice over people in my town concerning "more than" and "over."

I hear ads, "We have OVER 500 cars on the lot less than $5000" on the radio or TV, which drives me nuts. Over is a spatial reference. More than is a quantitative reference. They both have two syllables so there is no excuse for not using the right term.

The common response is that, "It doesn't matter, it’s an advertising thing..." Hogswallow! How would they like a performance of, Some Where MORE THAN the Rainbow? Or how about Boston’s song OVER a Feeling?

What do they mean it doesn't matter? It does matter!