Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm a foreigner...help me with your language, or let me help you

I'm serious. I was born in the Philippines and lived there until I was 5. Filipino (yes, the country is spelled w/ a "Ph" and the nationality is spelled w/ a "F") was my primary language, and English was my secondary language...barely. I pretty much learned both simultaneously (adverbs usually end in -ly).

Today at The Corporation, a trainer in one of my classes spoke the phrase "for weeks on end." It made me think that I never really actually put much thought into what that phrase actually meant. "On end." I always assumed people used it and thought they subconciously had an idea of what it really means, but didn't truly know what it means. Look up the phrase on dictionary.com and you'll find 11 entries. I'm not sure if it's because I'm curious or that I was born in another country and I was taught the proper way to speak English (as opposed to American, which is what most people speak in the United States), but I started thinking about all the phrases and words which people commonly misuse or don't know the true meaning. (Notice I used "of which" in my previous sentence so that I didn't have to end my sentence with a preposition. That is a big no-no in English.) I also thought about common grammar mistakes. Hence, my references in sentence 4 about adverbs ending in -ly and not ending sentences with prepositions. I'm going to run through a few of the ones I thought of (oops...ended in preposition).

Peruse: People often use this word when they are referring to something that they just skimmed or read quickly. In fact it actually means "to read or examine, typically with great care." I hope you'll all peruse this blog.

In and of itself: I think this is a horrendous, confusing phrase. I never gave much thought to it until I read Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. I think it was in the opening pages of his book. (Brilliant book by the way. He breaks everything down from Saved by the Bell to The Real World.) The official definition, you ask? "Intrinsically, considered alone." Thanks a lot dictionary.com. That really helped me out. I think this phrase is for lazy pseudo-intellectual college students to fill space in their 20-page poli-sci paper about the effects of Reaganomics on the lower class. I don't even know what Reaganomics is except that it included something -doo economics...oooo-doo economics...voo-doo economics. If you don't know where that came from, then you must've been locked in a basement for the past 20 years.

Toward vs. Towards: Who knows when to use either of these? Neither do I. Someone get an English book and find out please.

No difference vs. Same difference: Same difference is not correct. You should use "no difference" because you are arguing that there is no difference between the point you are making and the point the other person is making. How can two points have the same difference? I don't know. I'm not from this country.

All right vs. Alright: Alright doesn't exist. If you type it in dictionary.com, it will give you a link to "all right". All right?

Couldn't care less vs. Could care less: People use either of these phrases interchangeably to describe the extreme irrelevance of a subject to them. For example, take someone who hated soccer with a passion who said, "I could care less about soccer." If he could care less, then it means that there is still more room for apathy. If he had said, "I couldn't care less about soccer," then he has reached the extreme point of apathy. Soccer is so irrelevant to him, that he possibly can't care any less.

Supposedly: Believe it or not, some people do think that this word is actually "supposively." These people to whom I refer, are college age or older. Please correct yourself because this supposively won't help you out in the real world.

Probably: Unless you are a middle school age girly girl, please do not spell probably, "prolly." It will probably help you in real life not to pronounce it "prolly" either.

Could of & Should of: If you don't even know what I'm talking about, then it's time to replenish your skills in English.

I'm all out of stuff for now. Let me know of any other ideas you had. I was getting a lot of comments about being a TV critic, so I hope you enjoyed my rant on something other than TV. I know it's a little old, but here are some sweet words from my favorite Scientologist...

"You know what? I'm sure drug dealers on the street in some way, they're making money. That's what I equate it to. Here's the thing you have to understand with psychiatry. There is no science behind it. And to pretend that there is a science behind it is criminal." -- Tom Cruise on the evils of psychiatry

4 comments:

  1. Carlo

    I am almost positive that there is no real difference between using ‘toward’ and 'towards', they are interchangeable. Therefore, the two words do not serve different purposes.

    I believe that ‘toward’ is more commonly used in American English and ‘towards’ is British English (and therefore correct haha).

    Jimmy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Couldn't care less vs. Could care less: People use either of these phrases interchangeably to describe the extreme irrelevance of a subject to them. For example, take someone who hated soccer with a passion who said, "I could care less about soccer." If he could care less, then it means that there is still more room for apathy. If he had said, "I couldn't care less about soccer," then he has reached the extreme point of apathy. Soccer is so irrelevant to him, that he possibly can't care any less.

    i used to argue with nicole arresto about this. she argued in favor of "i could care less" because she said that meant it wouldn't bother her to care less about something. she could care less about soccer because she doesn't care at all. she's saying that not caring is infinite, but people who "couldn't care less" say that their not caring has limits. makes sense? i don't think so.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd like to add a few more misused words/phrases...

    anyways vs anyway...

    The very commonly used "I forget..." which is incorrect in my opinion. In the Philippines, we were taught to say "I forgot...".

    Why do people have trouble pronouncing "Bad-Min-Ton"? I often hear "ba-min-non" or something like that.

    Tom

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'd like to add a few more misused words/phrases...

    anyways vs anyway...

    The very commonly used "I forget..." which is incorrect in my opinion. In the Philippines, we were taught to say "I forgot...".

    Why do people have trouble pronouncing "Bad-Min-Ton"? I often hear "ba-min-non" or something like that.

    ReplyDelete