Tuesday, July 7, 2009

say it right

The reality of language is that it is not a static thing, but that it is constantly changing. Words acquire new meanings over time, slang twists words and even makes then change their lexical categories, outdated words are discarded and new words are imported from foreign languages. It is in our nature to resist change therefore as we get older the bastardization of language becomes increasingly jarring. I am sure many people have their own criteria of word mis-use that they find appalling; I would like to share a few of mine.

In line or online? I often hear people referring to the act of lining up for something as waiting online. This makes no sense to me. You wait IN LINE, whereas you go ONLINE to surf the internet. While on the subject of the internet, I often hear advertisements that say "Log onto our website ... " when in fact most websites do not require a login, just that you visit their web address.

Sort of speak/so to speak. The phrase is "so to speak" nuff said. Along the same lines are the phrases "bide time" and "for all intents and purposes", which are often said as "buy time" and "for all intensive purposes", respectively.

I'm not sure why these particular phrases bother me when said incorrectly. I suppose it is because the error is needless, and just shows a lack of knowledge of the language. Some phrases, although grammatically incorrect add emphasis or a particular nuance to what is being said, and therefore I find to be acceptable. One of my favorites is "That ain't right," convenient when commenting on a situation that elicits feelings of indignation.