Wednesday 16 November 2016

Grammar: Howlers 15

In the metropolitan bubble

Late 2016, and many are using “elite” to mean “member of an elite”. Metropolitan elites, liberal elites. Some use “elitist” with the same meaning. For some, it is code for “people in power with the wrong ideas”.

An “elite” is a privileged, or powerful, group of people. “The Ritz – where the elite meet to eat.” An elitist is someone who thinks that members of the elite really are superior.

The same goes for “minority”. A single person can be in the minority if 99% vote the other way, but he can’t be a minority. But the word is often used to mean “member of a minority”. In Europe and the US, people of colour and LGBT people are in the minority. Not women – in the UK we’re in the majority, about 51%. In other countries, men predominate. (And in Africa, white people are in the minority.)

And "majority" doesn't mean "huge number of people". The picture is clouded by the way people often stick the word "vast" onto any majority. A majority of people in the UK voted to leave the EU, but they didn't win by vast majority – it was 4%. 17 million voted to Leave, but the population of the UK is 64 million.

More howlers:

With all the props required, children will spend hours pretending to scour the isles for the best grocery bargains with the Toyrific Shopping Trolley Play Set! (aisles)

refreshers’ fair for freshers’ fair (It's short for “freshmen”.)

with importunity
for with impunity

Their wishes take president. (take precedence)

Richmond VA described as a magnet for "craft-beer coiffing" millennials. (quaffing)

are forced to reign it in... (Horses have reins, Queens have reigns.)

Jesus was crucified on Calgary. (Calvary)

nip it in the butt (It’s “bud” and refers to frost “nipping” a flower in the bud so that it never blooms. When it's freezing cold in the UK we say it's "a bit nippy", with our usual understatement.)

grant it for granted (Americans pronounce it “granite”.)


well-known fictional author for well-known fiction writer

recess monkeys (autocorrect for Rhesus)

old-fashion pasties, process cheese etc. (old-fashioned, processed)

espousing for plugging: "By the end of the book the author is clearly espousing his critical opinion of the radical Irish, the revolutionaries and terrorists who have sullied the reputation and history of the homeland he is proud of."

Nice to know you think my costumer care is up to your standers!

Flog It! is selling a Chinese censor. (Censers burn incense, censors ban books.)

No one will batter an eyelid. It beggars the question. (You bat your eyelids or flutter your eyelashes – it's supposed to be flirtatious, but does it work? Shakespeare said that an appalling sight “beggars belief”, ie makes belief as poor as a beggar. If you "beg the question" you carry on as if the question under discussion had already been settled. Your way.)

gaffe for gaff (The first is a solecism and the second a home, or is it a net for landing fish?)

Someone in Inverkeithing asks why Dunfermline doesn’t have even on inconvenience store? (Also spotted recently “It wasn’t non-negligible”.)

going by the weigh side for falling by the wayside

epitath for epitaph

Quentin Crisp was a naked civil savant. (He had to join the Civil Service to do his job as a nude artist's model, and he called his autobiography The Naked Civil Servant.)
Site and sight are easily confused: a moving site, get it in your sites, building sight. (Think of eyesight and caravan site – a sight is what you see, a site is where you’re SITuated.)

He ate a cough pastel. (Pastille – pastels are coloured chalks, or pale colours.)

on the cusp for on the brink (The cusp is the join between two zodiac signs. Very popular June 2016 – we’re on the cusp of disaster, no kidding.)

I like anything with equestrian horses on! (Bargain Hunt)

Hi Hitler! (Scrawled by a very dim white supremacist.)

Find the writers you admire and immolate them. (Student howler, allegedly, for emulate or imitate. Heretics were immolated, or burned at the stake for their views, back in the Good Old Days.)

These men who obsess with feminism and then name calling, threatening to rape and murder are the lowest form of Homo Saipan ever. (They are, though it's "Homo sapiens", and it's a singular, not a plural. All humans are members of the group Homo sapiens, and all of us apart from Africans have a bit of Neanderthal as well.)

beaurocrats for bureaucrats

I'm sure the rich all have personal helicopters to take them to their secret mountain layers! (lairs)

More here, and links to the rest.

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