The War on Words – Feb 2015

Krista Connor

Krista Connor

, War On Words

A monthly column in which we attempt, however futilely, to defend the English language against misuse and abuse

Grammatically-Challenged Holiday Greetings

IMG_0019Once again, on Jan. 1 and for days thereafter, we heard the greeting “happy New Years.” Makes us wonder about the rationale behind such a wish. Is the person hoping that all of our remaining New Years will be happy? Doubt it. Methinks it’s simply a linguistic absurdity learned in childhood—and never unlearned.

We also received a Christmas card wishing us “Happy Holiday’s.” The aberrant apostrophe is everywhere!

Media Watch

• A sideline reporter at a Kentucky basketball game called a player “one of the team’s most feistiest.” Here’s the thing: If a word ends in –est, never put “most” in front of it. That’s a double superlative. Put another way, if you use “most,” the next word should never end in –est.
• A reader calls out the nearly perfect New York Times for the phrase “guild the lily.” That’s gild (a verb) the lily. The noun guild means an organization of people with similar interests, goals, etc.

Rejection of the Objective

The media—and everyone else—continue to incorrectly use subjective pronouns (I, he, she, we, they) after prepositions because, we suspect, they sound more elegant than the correct objective pronouns (me, him, her, us, them).
Example: A recent discussion between 97.5 sports talker Mike Missanelli and his producer as to whether the correct phrase is “between you and I” or “between you and me.” The producer argued for “I.” Missanelli—a communications graduate of (gulp!) Penn State—wasn’t so sure. The preposition “between” requires the objective case—me.
Similarly, an ESPN announcer sympathized with Auburn’s kicker, saying the Outback Bowl ended in “heartbreak for he and Auburn.” That would be “him and Auburn,” of course.

Cosby Gleanings

Friends of the apparently morally-challenged Bill Cosby seem to be grammatically challenged. Singer Jill Scott redundantly defended him against “alleged allegations,” while another friend asked why the media needed to “drudge up” past events. Some in the media may indeed be drudges, but the verb is “dredge up.”

Bring, Take

These terms are challenging for many. Bring often is used where take is correct. Reader Randall Hedrick, of Elsmere, cites an example: “I once had a boss who had an Ed.D degree, yet in spite of that, stood in front of the entire office one morning and said, ‘I had a wonderful weekend . . . I brought my daughter to the movies.”

“I spontaneously corrected him by muttering ‘took my daughter.’ He snipped, ‘Language is fluid!’

“I softly began singing ‘Bring Me Out To The Ball Game,’ and he walked away.”
To review: Take is used in relation to starting point. We take things or people from the place we are to another place. Bring means to carry or transport something or someone to the speaker.

Err-otica (as opposed to erotica)

The wire that supports utility poles continues to give the electronic media problems. WDEL recently referred to an accident in which a vehicle hit a “utility pole guide wire,” and a national radio network announcer used “guide wire” twice in referring to a parachutist who got hung up on a support wire. Those are guy wires, sometimes simply referred to as “guys.” The word comes from the Old French “guier,” meaning—you guessed it—“to guide.”

In Defense of The Chipper

A recent WIP caller described Eagles Coach Chip Kelly as both “narcissistic” and “egomaniacal.” They’re not the same. Essentially, a narcissist has an excessive or erotic interest in himself and his physical appearance. The term is derived from the hunter Narcissus, who was so in love with his own image that he drowned in his reflection in a pool. We doubt that Chipper is narcissistic; he doesn’t seem to give much attention to his appearance. And while he has a strong ego, “egomaniacal”—with all its psychological undertones—may be an overstatement.

Word of the Month

entropy
Pronounced EN-truh-pee, it’s a noun meaning a measure of the disorder in a system or the natural tendency of things to decline into disorder. Randomness, chaos.

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