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Aaargh! The grammar nazi rants...

Okay, people, listen up--the next time I read something in LiveJournal, on a newsgroup, or in an email that makes one of these mistakes, someone's getting stabbed. Fair warning.

1. It's "Lo and behold," not "low and behold." The word "lo!" is a Middle English expression of surprise. "Lo and behold" is kind of the equivalent of saying "Well, hey, look at that!"

2. It's "Nothing fazes me," not "nothing phases me." To "faze" is to disturb or frighten. "She was unfazed" means "she retained her composure." "He was unphased" means "he was not made of a number of waveforms that were in synchronization." Big difference, folks.

3. It's "etc," not "ect." "Etc" is an abbreviation for "et cetera" (two words), which is Latin for "and so forth." "Et" means "and," which is why "etc" is sometimes written "&c". "Etc" is correct. "&c" is correct but archaic. "Ect" is not, never has been, and never will be correct.

4. The abbreviations "ie" and "eg" do not mean the same thing! You use "ie" when you mean "in orther words." It's Latin for "id est," which means "that is." For example: "He is a businessman; ie, he makes his money by operating a business." On the other hand, "eg" is used to mean "for example." It's Latin for "exempli gratia." "I do not like spectator sports--eg, football and baseball." For example: eg. In other words: ie.

5. And while we're at it, "insure" and "ensure" do not mean the same thing either! "Ensure" means "to make sure of." Double-check your math on your tax return to ensure you don't get an embarrassing phone call from the IRS. "Insure," on the other hand, means "to provide insurance for," you insure your house in order to ensure that you won't be financially ruined if it burns down.

6. To be caught "between the devil and the deep blue sea" does not mean "between two unattractive options." It means "to be in a position where you have no room to manuver." The 'devil' on a wooden sailing ship is the main spar of the ship--a brace that runs the whole length of the ship from front to back, around which the frame of the ship is built. There is a very narrow space--typically less than 3' high--between a ship's devil and the bottom of the hull; this was sometimes the space where the most lowly members of a ship's crew slept--"between the devil and the deep blue sea." It's a very, very tiny space.

7. "Too" means "also" or "to a great extent." "To" means "in the direction of" or indicates an infinitive. Get these two wrong, and you might end up in the position of the unfortunate street racer I saw yesterday whose vanity license tag reads "TO L8 4U". "2 L8 4U" or "TOO L8 4U" would've communicated the idea that he was trying to convey; the idea conveyed by "TO L8 4U" is "Hi! I'm illiterate."

Don't even get me started on "accept" and "except," or "affect" and "effect."

Any typos in this post are a feature, not a bug. We now return you to your regularly scheduled friends list.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2004 12:00 pm (UTC)
8. It's "I couldn't care less," not "I could care less."

9. Loose and lose are two different verbs. You do not "loose your keys," you "lose your keys." Or your temper.

I'm right with you on the stabbing, unless you've seen me committing #4. I frequently can't remember the difference, and usually wind up rephrasing my writing to avoid having to use either.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 12:29 pm (UTC)
lose and loose....
if you aren't careful and loose your dog, you might lose your dog.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 02:06 pm (UTC)
10. "You have piqued my interest," not "you have peaked my interest" or "you have peeked my interest." Dunno how I forgot that one!
Aug. 31st, 2004 08:50 pm (UTC)
Dear. Sweet. Jesus.

8. It's "I couldn't care less," not "I could care less."

That one pisses me off so fucking much. Everytime someone gets it wrong I want to beat them to death with an english phrase book.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 01:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah. Sing it, Brothah!!!
Aug. 22nd, 2004 01:19 pm (UTC)
How do you feel about neologisms?

And *THANK YOU* for that list. One of the things I hate about LJ is the tide of IMlish.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 02:10 pm (UTC)
Neologisms can be useful, fun, and efficient; often, they're the playground and laboratory of language. On the other hand, when a neologism fails, it fails dramatically; whoever coined the thankfully short-lived term "waitron" as a gender-neutral version of "waiter" and "waitress" needs to be run over with a steam roller.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 07:15 pm (UTC)
FYI, Florida plates can only contain seven characters which may explain the missing "o" in too. Otherwise, they would have had to remove all of the spaces, TOOL84U. Not to mention, things are often misspelled in license plates for this very reason (to or too often being substitutes with the numeral 2). The goal is to get the owner's point across, so you shouldn't expect proper grammar in that medium.

I do, however, agree with your usage gripe otherwise.

Where I tend to err is in whether to include a period at the end of the latin/greek abbreviations.
Aug. 23rd, 2004 05:05 am (UTC)
Thanks for venting all of our Grammar-Nazi frustrations! If I may add one to the list, I can be at you "beckon call", but not your "beck and call". I got into an argument about this once. The argument ended with "OK, use 'beck' in a sentence without immediately following it with 'and call'!"

Don't get me started on "their" vs "there" or "your" vs "you're". We should all learn Esperanto and call it a day.
Aug. 23rd, 2004 11:49 am (UTC)
Actually, it is "beck and call." "Beck" is an archaic term, from the Middle English root for modern English "beckon;" the term "at one's beck and call" means "ready to obey one's command immediately." It's documented by looking up "beck" at www.m-w.com (entry 3, definition 2). :)
Aug. 23rd, 2004 01:06 pm (UTC)
Well smoke me- you're right! I learn something new every day!

Thanks. I still say we should all learn Esperanto. I've read that English is the second most arbitrary language, spelling-wise. Gaelic is the worst.

2 more peeves, both food-related: There's no "x" in "espresso", and only one "r" in "sherbet".
Aug. 23rd, 2004 02:16 pm (UTC)
Mi konsentas!

And there's no "x" in "espresso" and only one "r" in "sherbet" because they should pronounced espresso not expresso and sherbet not sherbert. ;-)
Sep. 24th, 2004 09:58 am (UTC)
Mi ankau konsentas! La lingvo internacia estas bonega!
Sep. 25th, 2004 08:43 am (UTC)
Jes! Mi lernas ankorau^ sed mi konsentas.
Aug. 23rd, 2004 05:45 am (UTC)
While all of these are quite interesting, and the reminder on proper usage of common phrases and grammer is useful, please keep in mind that all of the mediums you mention (particularly LJ) are considered informal modes of communication.

Especially LJ, being a journaling tool, is more about self-expression than being grammatically correct. And butchering the language is entirely my right to do in my space. No one is paying to read my content, I'm not communicating with clients and trying to prove my professionalism, I'm not being graded by my professors and I owe no one editting services on my writings. It's the reader's choice to read or not read my postings. If my grammer and incorrect use of the language turns someone off from reading my personal postings so much that they can't get the content, then it's their loss, not mine. I write for me, not for others, generally.

But thanks for the reminders... as I do at least attempt to not butcher the language so badly as to turn folks off from at least grasping the content of my writings. But please don't threaten physical harm to me for not meeting your standards for my informal writings. Just don't read if it angers you so much.
Aug. 23rd, 2004 09:59 am (UTC)
Good points!!!
Aug. 23rd, 2004 11:58 am (UTC)
It's true that informal modes of communication have less-stringent grammar requirements than formal writing do. It's also true that people are free to ignore grammar if they so choose.

However, there's a difference between knowing the rules, but choosing to ignore them, and simple ignorance. My ire is pointed at the people who write things like "I went over thier with my friends, and low and behold, my sister said she wanted to go to. So I told her 'your not aloud to go out with us' but it had no affect on her." This kind of writing says something about the writer, but probably not what the writer intended. :)
Aug. 25th, 2004 12:21 am (UTC)
I think it really comes down to one's education and how strong an emphasis there was on the English language. It is very difficult to correct bad spelling and grammar habits later in life - it can be done, but it is not an easy task.

Some mistakes are so 'glaring' though and it is true that it is a reflection on the writer if one's grasp of the written English language is not up to scratch. But hey, there are a lot worse things in life, aren't there? Interesting post, nevertheless.

PS. My personal dislike is 'seperate' instead of 'separate'.
Aug. 23rd, 2004 12:42 pm (UTC)
Clique; click.

Don't even get me going on the rest. You know me. Fucking morons.
Aug. 31st, 2004 12:21 pm (UTC)
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )