Tuesday 12 October 2010

Grammar: Pedantry

Here are some examples of acute pedantry. Is there a cure? More pedantry here.

A kid is a baby goat. Young people are children.

She’s Gillian – if we wanted to call her Jill we’d have christened her Jill.

a handsaw is a corruption of hansa or heron, so when Hamlet said "I can tell a hawk from a handsaw" he was really making sense.

among, between – between refers to two people or things; for any more you have to use "among"

a spiral staircase is really helical

Audrey Hepburn is pronounced Hebburn
Barbara Stanwyck is pronounced Stannick
cinema is pronounced keye-NEE-mar (or perhaps it's Italian and should be CHEE-ne-ma)
clapboard is pronounced clabberd
patent is pronounced pattent not paytent

it’s a facsimile machine not a fax
it’s a rule not a ruler (a ruler is a king)
it’s a telephone not a 'phone
it’s an omnibus not a 'bus
it’s irREFutable not irreFUtable
it’s really “vicious cycle”, not “circle”.

kamilos was Greek for rope (it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven)
the Eye of the Needle was a narrow gate in Jerusalem (camel, eye, needle, rich man) (Straightdope.com says no such gate ever. Both Jesus and Hamlet were using hyperbole.)

They’re not bread rolls but rolls.
They’re not seagulls but gulls.

too, too solid flesh is really “this too, too sullied flesh”

You can’t say “due to” for “because of” because you can only use it to mean “praise is due” or “thanks are due”. (If you can substitute "caused by", due to is correct; if you can substitute "because of", owing to is correct.)
You can’t say “thanks to” for “because of” because you aren’t sincerely thanking somebody.
You can’t saying “owing to” for because of because you can only use it for money that’s owing to the tax man.
(And if the difference between "due to" and "owing to" is so hard to explain, is it really worth keeping?)

You can't say "over 100", you must say "more than", for some reason I can't fathom.

Latest here.

More here. And here.

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