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    Default Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    This is for sharing things that people say or write that are wrong and thus bug you, even though they're pretty inconsequential when you think about it. I'm not talking about factual inaccuracies; misuse of words, wording, or other language stuff that just bugs you all out of proportion with its importance is what I'm referring to.

    I'll start off with one I just saw.

    1) "All X don't Y." [Where X is a noun and Y is a verb.] This means that no X do Y, but most of the time I see this what the writer ACTUALLY means is "Not all X do Y."

    Here are another couple.

    2) Mixing up cannot and can not. Cannot means "is/are unable to." Can not means "is/are able to refrain from doing." Completely different meanings.

    3) Using "of" instead of "have" or "'ve." Argh this is so annoying. Would have, could have, should have. Would've, could've, should've. NOT would of, could of, should of.

    What are some that bug you?
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Things like ATM machine or PIN number. You wouldn't say automated teller machine machine, now, would you?
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    when people get Affect and Effect mixed up
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Shadow View Post
    Things like ATM machine or PIN number. You wouldn't say automated teller machine machine, now, would you?
    No but I would say ATM machine. No one calls it an automatic teller machine. Not that I know of. Or Personal Identity Number.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Razade View Post
    No but I would say ATM machine. No one calls it an automatic teller machine. Not that I know of. Or Personal Identity Number.
    Yeah, I know that a lot of people use the abbreviations like that, and I don't begrudge them for it. It just bugs me because 'machine' and 'number' are in the abbreviation itself.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Decimate being used to mean devastate instead of cut by 10% bugs me a lot. Also people who don't know that an acronym is a subset of initialism and not the whole thing. Finally, in french, people who pluralize cheval into chevals instead of chevaux.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    I'm only really bothered by my mistakes.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    The use of "parsimonious" to mean "terse" rather than "miserly." I suppose it makes sense, but come on.

    Data as a singular noun. One point is a datum. Also, people bringing up the Star Trek character in response to that for the ten thousandth bloody time.

    "As of yet."

    "The proof is in the pudding." "The exception that proves the rule." Actually, anything where "proof" actually means "test" but isn't used as such.

    Ending every single sentence with "though."
    Last edited by Trekkin; 2017-06-06 at 10:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by thorgrim29 View Post
    Decimate being used to mean devastate instead of cut by 10% bugs me a lot. Also people who don't know that an acronym is a subset of initialism and not the whole thing. Finally, in french, people who pluralize cheval into chevals instead of chevaux.
    The 10% thing only really applies to people/soldiers though. (tee-hee)

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Prescriptivism
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    It would be nice to just change the title of this thread to be "stuff about Jedi"

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Prescriptivism
    Yeah I was gonna launch into a rant about it but that is very similar to calling a thread pointless. Plus Grammar Nazis are not generally well received, so I take pity. (I almost married an educational English major)
    Last edited by lunaticfringe; 2017-06-06 at 10:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    I'm only really bothered by my mistakes.

    Oops! I just got (unpleasantly) reminded of phrases that grind my gears..

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    I'm personally not all too bothered about misuses in the English language, which isn't particularly strange, since I'm a non-native speaker who happens to like bending the rules as much as I like the rules themselves. In Swedish, though, where multi-word nouns are compounded, we have the problem of "särskrivning" (literally "apart-writing, and an example of a compounded word), where some people are unable to tell when words should be written together. Sometimes it shifts the meaning of the sentence (often in hilarious ways), but usually it just makes you look uneducated. I've heard studies claiming that it isn't a matter of education, but rather a psychological profile which can't learn when not to separate words, so I try not to judge the people themselves. But it is annoying nevertheless!

    Quote Originally Posted by thorgrim29 View Post
    Also people who don't know that an acronym is a subset of initialism and not the whole thing.
    Isn't it the other way around?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trekkin View Post
    "The proof is in the pudding." "The exception that proves the rule." Actually, anything where "proof" actually means "test" but isn't used as such.
    To be fair, I think "proof" always has been used in the sense of "confirmation" and not "test" in at least the latter expression (I'm not familiar with the former, but if it means what I think it means, then probably there as well). We have the very same expression in Swedish ("undantaget som bekräftar regeln"), with the sole difference that we say "confirms" instead of "proves", so unless we imported it from English after some drift in meaning, it probably hasn't drifted at all. Wiktionary seems to confirm this ("the exception that proves [the existence of] the rule", "the proof [you seek] is in [testing] the pudding"). That said, I can agree that we maybe don't reflect very much at what these expressions actually say.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Where do I start?

    RAS syndrome (Redundant Acronym Syndrom....)
    Affect/effect
    Lie/Lay
    I.e./E.g.
    Dismissing something as 'semantics [and therefore unimportant]'. I could rant all over the place in this topic, but I will suffice by saying, yes, semantics, because making sure everyone uses the same words in the same way makes sure we will only argue on important things and not get caught up in pointless and unresolveable debate because we aren't really talking about the same thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post
    To be fair, I think "proof" always has been used in the sense of "confirmation" and not "test" in at least the latter expression (I'm not familiar with the former, but if it means what I think it means, then probably there as well). We have the very same expression in Swedish ("undantaget som bekräftar regeln"), with the sole difference that we say "confirms" instead of "proves", so unless we imported it from English after some drift in meaning, it probably hasn't drifted at all. Wiktionary seems to confirm this ("the exception that proves [the existence of] the rule", "the proof [you seek] is in [testing] the pudding"). That said, I can agree that we maybe don't reflect very much at what these expressions actually say.
    I think the Scandinavian expressions are actually borrowed from English, which means they would be translated to something close to what people think the original phrase means (i.e. probably the wrong meaning in this case). My supervisor at uni, whose field of expertise was the development of modern English and who had read thousands of old legal documents (since those are the majority of older English manuscripts that you can place on a map that have survived) also supports the 'exceptions test the rule' explanation and opined that it was part of legalese throughout the ages - not necessarily the wording of the documents but in the general field. I trust his opinion far more than Wiktionary, which for all I know is a bunch of people who know bugger all about historical English interpreting a phrase from their modern understanding of the language.
    Last edited by BWR; 2017-06-07 at 01:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    These things don't bug me too much when reading on a forum--people have limited time to write posts and so mistakes will happen. As long as the post has at least a nodding acquaintance with grammar then I'm fine with it. When reading a novel for entertainment purposes, though, I expect a higher quality of writing, and if I don't get it then said book will likely end up in the bin rather than getting finished.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Misuse of apostrophes. Or should I say, misuse of apostrophe's.

    to be honest, when people mix up 'The Guard's' (singular possessive) or 'The Guards' "(plural possessive) it doesn't bother me all that much. It's when the singular possessive form is used when nothing is being possessed that drives me crazy. Stupid **** like this:
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Ing View Post
    Misuse of apostrophes. Or should I say, misuse of apostrophe's.

    to be honest, when people mix up 'The Guard's' (singular possessive) or 'The Guards' "(plural possessive) it doesn't bother me all that much. It's when the singular possessive form is used when nothing is being possessed that drives me crazy. Stupid **** like this:
    *twitchtwitchtwitch*

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post
    To be fair, I think "proof" always has been used in the sense of "confirmation" and not "test" in at least the latter expression (I'm not familiar with the former, but if it means what I think it means, then probably there as well). We have the very same expression in Swedish ("undantaget som bekräftar regeln"), with the sole difference that we say "confirms" instead of "proves", so unless we imported it from English after some drift in meaning, it probably hasn't drifted at all. Wiktionary seems to confirm this ("the exception that proves [the existence of] the rule", "the proof [you seek] is in [testing] the pudding"). That said, I can agree that we maybe don't reflect very much at what these expressions actually say.
    Generally yes; the origin of the expression "the exception that proves the rule" is exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis, from 17th century English law. What is being proved, though, is not that the rule is somehow accurate (since it applied to regulations, not scientific laws), merely that it should by default be considered to apply in all cases not excepted.

    We also have people using it in the sense of "this exception tests the validity of this rule", though, much for the same reason we have phrases like "proving ground" and "200-proof alcohol" and so forth -- and from here, I think, we get people both legitimately using it to refer to challenges to scientific theories and trying to make the ludicrous claim that the existence of a counterexample somehow proves a rule to be true. (Or, more accurately, dismissing all contrary evidence entirely as the "exception that proves the rule."

    "The proof is in the pudding" is definitely corrupted, though. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" makes sense as an aphorism; "Puddings generally contain mathematical proofs or evidence" does not.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Shadow View Post
    Things like ATM machine or PIN number. You wouldn't say automated teller machine machine, now, would you?
    Or "DC Comics"

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    when people mess up on simple grammar, like not having a subject and predicate in a sentence, or having the subject be in a prepositional phrase, or subject/predicate tense disagreement, or misplaced modifiers, or not understanding verbal phrases, or thinking only words that end in 'ly' are adverbs, or in this sentence "The captain really likes his boat" thinking that his is a pronoun, when it is actually an adjective because it is modifying boat, or not thinking that semicolons are important, or having a lot of comma splices.
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    Oh wadda you know Gary, you're just a baby.
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    Yes, but immunity to wizard and resistance to fighter kinda makes up for it.
    Quote Originally Posted by daremetoidareyo View Post
    It's all fun and games until you encounter the roc weremegalodon

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    "More unique" or "Most unique." There are no degrees of uniqueness. Either it is, or it isn't. The word you're looking for is "rare" or "unusual."

    Simplified corrections also bug me. They'll often forget important exceptions. "Affect - an action, Effect = a result," is on a coffee mug. Seeing things like that will always effect a change in my affect.
    Last edited by Telonius; 2017-06-07 at 11:26 AM.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Telonius View Post
    "More unique" or "Most unique." There are no degrees of uniqueness. Either it is, or it isn't. The word you're looking for is "rare" or "unusual."
    I'm more forgiving of this one, particularly when communicating differences in the scope in which something is unique. If one data point is unique within the results I got on a particular day and another occurs only once in all the data ever reported, I only twitch a little bit if people call the second "more unique" to reflect both that there's only one and that it's only one of a bigger set than the other. Still wrong, but usefully so.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Apart from the apostrophe thing, what bugs me more than anything else is awkward phrasing that is clearly designed to fit the "rule" against split infinitives or ending a sentence with a preposition. In some cases I've seen professionally-written work that was utterly incomprehensible about this.


    All because a few 17th and 18th century writers tried to insist that English was Latin, and managed to convince publishers of cheap dictionaries of it.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    Apart from the apostrophe thing, what bugs me more than anything else is awkward phrasing that is clearly designed to fit the "rule" against split infinitives or ending a sentence with a preposition. In some cases I've seen professionally-written work that was utterly incomprehensible about this.


    All because a few 17th and 18th century writers tried to insist that English was Latin, and managed to convince publishers of cheap dictionaries of it.
    Seconded..

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Extraneous "of"s in phrases like "How good of a day is it?" Curiously I've only noticed that at all in the last three-four years, but it seems to be becoming increasingly widespread, especially online. I blame Buzzfeed.

    Speaking of "of"s, "could of", "would of", etc. I can put up with it, but it still bugs me.

    Text-speak pretty much in general. Back in the days of 12-button phones and low character limits, there was an excuse for text-speak. These days where there's always a full keyboard available and no character limits in general it's just rude.

    Confusion of "rein" and "reign".

    "I could care less".

    Many more really but those are the ones I see and which bother me most.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Ing View Post
    Misuse of apostrophes. Or should I say, misuse of apostrophe's.

    to be honest, when people mix up 'The Guard's' (singular possessive) or 'The Guards' "(plural possessive)...

    I wish I had been taught this (or had any memory of it), but no.

    I remember being taught how to spell "Yes", and "No", and that it was September 1973, but mostly I remember being taught to dodge, scream, and about social diseases.

    English language rules?

    I don't remember ever being taught any when I was in school from 1973 to 1986 in Berkeley and Oakland, California.

    I do remember being taught some rules when I tried to take Latin, and German classes at Berkeley High School, 1983 to 1986, but I was a horrible student at it, those classes were extremely difficult for me, as was Science. I did well in History (I stole some History textbooks and read them before I started High School. I also did fair in "English" (ironic given that my wife has often said how terrible my spelling and word pronunciation are), but I mostly remember English classes as my writing essays on how much I loathed the characters in the "Great Gatsby".

    I know when to use "two", but "to" or "too"?
    I couldn't tell you.

    It would have been nice to have had more education on subjects besides how it feels to be punched and kicked repeatedly, but frankly it was hard to study when I was busy staying away from the windows, every week for fear of the gunfire in my neighborhood (the joys of youth in the 1980's!), and when the damn TV kept blasting it's racket, keeping sleep away night after night.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    All because a few 17th and 18th century writers tried to insist that English was Latin
    Romantic, not Latin. If English was Latin, then, well, we'd all be speaking Latin. If English was Romantic, then it would have been Latin-based.

    Sorry, but the chance to be pedantic in a thread about pedantry when I've already been pedantic about the premise? Too good a chance to pass up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    but I mostly remember English classes as my writing essays on how much I loathed the characters in the "Great Gatsby".
    Agreed. That novel was terrible. Literature classes in general give the impression that their reading lists were mostly picked out by the villain from Mystery Science Theater. Like they're going to expose people to inferior quality media until they go insane. The Great Gatsby is particularly exemplary of this as it was (rightly) universally panned when it was first published.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post

    I think the Scandinavian expressions are actually borrowed from English, which means they would be translated to something close to what people think the original phrase means (i.e. probably the wrong meaning in this case). My supervisor at uni, whose field of expertise was the development of modern English and who had read thousands of old legal documents (since those are the majority of older English manuscripts that you can place on a map that have survived) also supports the 'exceptions test the rule' explanation and opined that it was part of legalese throughout the ages - not necessarily the wording of the documents but in the general field. I trust his opinion far more than Wiktionary, which for all I know is a bunch of people who know bugger all about historical English interpreting a phrase from their modern understanding of the language.
    Quote Originally Posted by Trekkin View Post
    Generally yes; the origin of the expression "the exception that proves the rule" is exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis, from 17th century English law. What is being proved, though, is not that the rule is somehow accurate (since it applied to regulations, not scientific laws), merely that it should by default be considered to apply in all cases not excepted.

    We also have people using it in the sense of "this exception tests the validity of this rule", though, much for the same reason we have phrases like "proving ground" and "200-proof alcohol" and so forth -- and from here, I think, we get people both legitimately using it to refer to challenges to scientific theories and trying to make the ludicrous claim that the existence of a counterexample somehow proves a rule to be true. (Or, more accurately, dismissing all contrary evidence entirely as the "exception that proves the rule."

    "The proof is in the pudding" is definitely corrupted, though. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" makes sense as an aphorism; "Puddings generally contain mathematical proofs or evidence" does not.
    I don't think that the phrase originated in English law, and it's more likely that Scandinavian languages took it up from general Latin-speaking jurisprudence because of the enormous importance of Latin in W-European law (and general culture). It's older than Bacon, since I find it in a XVI century collection (1566 AD, printed in Lyon when Bacon was 5 years old: p. 634, § 86: https://books.google.it/books?id=tlt...firmat&f=false ). I understand it as "the fact that there exists an exception shows that there is a rule", because there can be no exception if there isn't a general rule. It probably originated in the middle ages with a number of similar phrasings (many such short phrases called brocarda originated in the University of Bologna in the XIII century), but the one article that explains how this one originated is out of my reach ( Exceptio firmat regulam : un contributo sul ragionamento giuridico / Carlo Nitsch )

    The pudding thing is funny, I had never heard of it. English isn't my first language, so my vain ire mainly refers to words that have taken a similar yet different meaning in it, like trope (we say topos instead), and look like a mistake but actually are right in English. Climax also is an example, "reaching the climax" would be "reaching the apex" or the "akmé". "Climax" in Greek doesn't mean "highest point", it means ladder (so the meaning would be a bit like crescendo). A bit with its and it's, because I'm scared of learning it wrong after I learnt it right at school.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    The pudding thing is funny, I had never heard of it. English isn't my first language, so my vain ire mainly refers to words that have taken a similar yet different meaning in it, like trope (we say topos instead), and look like a mistake but actually are right in English. Climax also is an example, "reaching the climax" would be "reaching the apex" or the "akmé". "Climax" in Greek doesn't mean "highest point", it means ladder (so the meaning would be a bit like crescendo). A bit with its and it's, because I'm scared of learning it wrong after I learnt it right at school.
    I think that is actually a correct definition of "climax" in English too, although like many words its distinctiveness is being eroded.
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