Sunday, January 13, 2008

Grammatically Undesirable

Recently, I read a piece in The Atlantic (Word Court, by Barbara Wallraff) about the misuse of certain phrases. The magazine's special section covers language questions and disputes and in this edition addressed the following:

1. The misuse of the word scores (as in scores of people). A score is twenty ("four score and seven years ago means 87 years ago, not way back when.") So, when speaking about the number of talented, unpublished writers, say, or the number of published authors earning enough to support themselves, scores would be a very small percentage.

2. The slip of phrase, "rule of thump" instead of "rule of thumb." Now that's just funny.

3. The use of preregister and preregister early (a writing teacher said these "drive me nuts.") Turns out, although seemingly redundant, both are correct. As Ms. Wallraff wrote, "If returning students, for instance, are allowed to register in advance of the general registration, why shouldn't that be called preregistration? And if they're allowed to do it well in advance, can't they preregister early?" Her peeve is "advance reservations" as "there is no such thing as a reservation that isn't made in advance."

I love word questions. Like this one: am I feeling nauseous or nauseated? Actually, either use is correct.

How about grammar problems? Now, I've had to work hard at mastering grammar (I'm sure there is something wrong with that sentence--or others in this blog-- and someone will point it out to me!) And really, if you ask any of my critique partners, you'll find that I haven't really mastered grammar. But, here are two of my peeves:

1. "I'm going to get me one of those." With "I'm going to get" the "me" is implied, right?!! Not to mention, I don't have another "me" standing next to me.

2. "My bad." I know all of the kids are saying it (except mine, he's forbidden to say it in the house). And though I haven't looked it up, the phrase has probably made its way to some dictionaries.

One of my sisters is a gramma-phobe and Latin teacher. She's shared some hilarious examples of butchered grammar over the years. She shared this with me: "One year I was reprimanding a student about saying 'that's mines' instead of 'that's mine.' When she asked what was wrong with her version, I said, 'Among other things, it doesn't sound right.' Her response was, 'Well it sound all right to me!' "

What's your peeve?

1 comment:

pamela hammonds said...

What's my peeve? Where do I begin...?

How about when people write that a sign said... when it should be: a sign read...

Or the gerund phrases that seem to baffle everyone.

I could wax on and on, but then I'd just sound like an old fart and I'd hate to have that reputation.