Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Linguistic Pet Peeves

Misuse of the word "irony", particularly when what the user means is coincidence.

The American use of the affectation, ", no?" especially in today's chat environments. Sure, the French do it and it is part of their culture. When Americans use that expression it just sounds arrogant and wrong to me.

I don't raise a big fuss about either of these because, like the way Shawn rolls toothpaste tubes, it doesn't bother me enough to really go to the trouble of mentioning it. However, I mention it today in order to get it off of my chest. What are your linguistic pet peeves?


Scott said...

Ya' know?

Anonymous said...

Ya'all must of been pissed enough to write a blog entry about it (toothpaste tube rolling aside).

Language is a complex topic but to say that someone is "arrogant" because they use a particular venacular or word is just leaving me thinking, this BLOGer must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed, NO?

How about this one: irregardless vs regardless

Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that "there is no such word." There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

B.D. said...

Anonymous makes a good point about the evolution of language. I ain't disagreeing with that.

Seems to me, however, that anonymous woke up on the wrong side of the bed as well since s/he took such umbrage with my calling "arrogant" the affectation ", no?"

It's my beef and my interpretation and I'm sticking to it. Oh, and I've had this beef for quite some time. I blogged about it because I saw it used on a couple of comments on another blog and was bugged. I also blogged about it in order to provoke discussion on the topic in general.

My beef with irregardless is that it's redundant and breaks all sorts of rules. While "ain't" may be poor usage, it's clearly another word for "isn't". By tacking on the prefix "ir" to regardless, technically the user is holding some "in regards" since the "ir" is the opposite of "regardless", however that's not how most people interpret it when we hear someone use it.

Scott said...

My previous irony was missed or not well executed.

In the written world the diminishment of the richness of language through laziness and lack of respect gets me down. Enjoying the richness of expression is not a dusty musty concern, as anyone who understands Shakespeare can attest. If one can’t be bothered to attempt appropriate spellings or pressing of the shift key why should others bother to read? Then the weasels woefully whine, “It is too much effort!” Seems to me there is not enough effort. When people wrote by hand with hand honed and dipped quills the extra effort produced more attention to the artistic form of writing, which needs adequate technical skills to create.

If I didn’t care enough about what I was saying or the people I was saying it too, my deliberate lack of capitalizing ‘w’ when referring to our corrupt despot would be even more obscure.

B.D. said...

Thanks for expounding upon that, Scott. I agree.

Another musing: How many people think of William F. Buckley as arrogant when they hear or read the words he uses rather than just referring to what he's saying or his personality? A lot. Arrogance is attributed to "a particular vernacular or word" all the time.

(correction on "venacular").

Anonymous said...

Well back to my original point about accusing someone of being arrogant just because of the use of a word (your example of "No"). That no more makes someone arrogant than the color of the shirt they wear.

And I wouldn't go as far as accusing someone of being lazy or disrespectful of any language based on their use of a particular veRnacular either. (Oh, that earlier misspelling must make me lazy and disrespectful if I follow the logic). I mean, its one thing for a literature professor to make those kinds of mistakes (they should know better) but let's face it, the average person on the street lacks the knowledge to know any better (which raises other issues I realize) or simply doesn't think of it as a high enough priority to care. So to say that someone is disrespectful or lazy is as bad as saying their arrogant. Language (or should I say communication) is way more complicated that this folks! There are lots of very good people who bastardize language but I don't think that makes them arrogant, lazy OR disrespectful necessarily. Heck, if you try hard enough, you can probably find a literature professor (back to my example) who IS lazy and arrogant and disrespectful even though they may not slaughter their language (spoken or written).

I guess that's why they call 'em Pet Peeves, ya'know? :) (Irregardless of someone's choice to use "no" at the end of a sentence) :}

B.D. said...
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B.D. said...
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B.D. said...


I'd amend my comment and add "pretentious" as perhaps a better, or an equally good, descriptive.

But I think you've lost sight of the original discussion. This is not a discussion on linguistic theory or the nature of language. That's a high level discourse which we can go into, discussing the works of Chomsky, Pinker, Hoffstadter, Benstock, de Beauvoir, et al.

Rather, this discussion is about "pet peeves". By their very nature, a "pet peeve" is personal and often not rational to anyone other than the person who owns it. As in the toothpaste analogy, Shawn likes to squeeze the toothpaste all the way up the tube. I do that as well, but I also roll the tube up as I go. Who's right? Neither of us, but I have a pet peeve about it. It's my issue. I don't bring it up often and I learn to live with it. It does, however, come up on occassion - usually as good natured teasing.

Similarly, linguistic pet peeves are purely owned by the person who has them. I often use incorrect versions of words for fun or to make a point that I know are wrong, but that drive others up the wall. My grandmother used to use the word "worsh" for "wash" and it drove my sister silly until my grandmother set her up one day and let my sister know she was being an asshole.

And that's the thing: my sister was being an asshole. She was young and hadn't discerned that her pet peeves were her issue. You might mention them (as I did here), but you don't impose them upon the world.

Scott's position is one that I understand. I don't necessarily agree with his position, but I can understand it. It's his issue; not mine.

So, you have suggested that the peeves listed here by Scott and I are simplistic in nature. Sure and I'd add irrational to it as well. But we not discussing textualizing the feminine or some other high level topic.

For a fun and interesting book on grammar, might I recommend "Eats, shoots and leaves" by Lynne Truss. She's an English writer who basically turned her pet peeves into an entire book project. Her arguments are persuasive and amusing. Her latest book, "Talk to the Hand" laments what she believes is the fall of civility in society. Each generation has someone come along who, like Ms. Truss, expresses similar sentiments. Truss does so in a very entertaining manner, whether or not you agree with her premise.

B.D. said...

Whew, and it's way too early. :-)

Sorry, Scott, I didn't proof read or run spell check on that post. :-)