Thursday, 12 October 2017

Pedantry 4

We must have [grammar rule] because in [unlikely scenario], if we ignore the rule the sentence might be ambiguous.

And we're all going to hell in a handcart because people are ignorant of the following: 

Christmas news bulletins sent to your friends are not round robins, they are circular letters.

"I and the staff would like to wish you a Happy New Year" – well why don’t you, ha ha?

Different to, different from, different than have different meanings and one of them is not “grammar”.

The programme should be spelled Desert Island Disks because “disk is original”.

Cooking instructions are a “receipt”, not a “recipe” – "recipe" is French.

Tube trains run through a tunnel, underground trains run through a covered trench.

The earth isn’t round, it’s spherical.

There's a distinction between complementary and complimentary.

Using “etc” is sloppy.

They’re herring gulls, not seagulls.

"Owing to" refers to a verb, "due to" refers to a noun. You can only say "thanks to" if you're thanking somebody. So what can we say? "On account of"? But that's American. So we may have to state directly that A caused B, and B happened as a result of A. But we can't do that, we're British!

Anticipate means “be prepared” not “expect”.

You’re wounded on a battlefield but injured in a car accident. (Times style guide)

It’s thank you, not thankyou. “Thankyou” is not a word. (See NGram – use of “thankyou” has risen sharply since 1972, while “thank you” has declined and then risen slightly since 1900.)

It's an historical, an halal, an herbivore.

It’s not “this year”, it’s “the current year”. (And as for this week, next week, brought forward, put back... etc.)

There’s a difference in meaning between ’til and till.

You must use Oxford commas either all the time, or never. (NGram shows a steep rise for "Oxford comma" from 1985. It depends on context. Sometimes you need a comma before and, and sometimes you don’t.)

These are brackets [ ]
These are parentheses ( ) 
These are braces { }
Homophobia means fear of the same, or fear of yourself. (It may not be the best term for intolerance of gay people, but it’s the one we’ve got.)

Enormity means “outside the norm” (and egregious means outside the flock). Its meaning changed to "nastiness", and then to “unusually large size”.

“Ironic” doesn't simply mean "paradoxical".

It’s “an aught” not “a nought”.

Till should be spelled 'til, as it’s short for until. (Same goes for 'phone and 'bus – telephone and omnibus.)

Though I admit I flinch when people say “etch” when they mean “engrave”.

Singular 'they' never went away; it has been in steady use for centuries: Wikipedia quotes Chaucer, Shakespeare, Chesterfield, Ruskin, Byron, Austen, Defoe, Thackeray and Shaw. Some 19th century grammarians promoted a gender-neutral 'he', but the former remained widespread. (AG)

Merriam-Webster, which calls the usage 'entirely standard', notes that "hopefully" has been used to start sentences since the early 1700s, and other sentence adverbs for a century longer still. It's interesting that, according to an American Heritage Dictionary usage panel, approval of 'hopefully' as a sentence adverb dropped from 44% in 1969 to 27% in 1988. Also, if you disapprove of it, do you also disapprove of 'accordingly', 'seriously', 'understandably', 'amazingly', 'frankly', and 'honestly'?  We all seem quite happy to use those in the same way. (AG)

More here, and links to the rest.

1 comment:

  1. It's so difficult to distinguish between pedantry and mere correct-ness. We all have our own betes noires.... (which I've probably mis-spelt). Disinterested is one I don't like to see misused, there IS a distinction....