Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WNW: Reader Edition

Apparently, I’m not the only person who twitches at word missteps. I have several such readers—fellow Grammar and/or Usage Nazis—who have shared with me some of their peeves.

I must say, they’re nearly all peeves of my own. (My readers are kindred spirits! It brings me joy!)

So for today’s Word Nerd Wednesday, you are the stars.

The first peeve was suggested by both Blondie and Rebecca:

I could care less/I couldn’t care less.

Which is correct? Not the first one, but you’d never know it by how often you hear it thrown around.

What you’re trying to say is that you care nothing at all for something, right?

So think about it: “I could care less” says that you could theoretically care less than you do at this moment. Which means you do care at least a little.

I COULDN’T CARE LESS, on the other hand, means that you currently care so little that there is no conceivable way you could possibly care less than you do.

There is absolutely no care-age involved. None. Nada.

(So I made that word up. Sounds like something George or Jerry would say, though.)


The very funny KristinaP at Pulsipher’s Predilections threw the next one at me:

Irregardless
IR is a prefix similar to UN: it reverses or negates what comes after, much like untie means to reverse the tying process. It means NOT, like irresolute means NOT resolute.

The word regardless already means “despite everything.” So if you negate that, do you mean “because of everything”?

(Which, of course, you don't. That isn’t what people mean when they say, irregardless.)

Merriam-Webster takes a stab at guessing why people use this. They say that maybe irregardless is a combination of irrespective and regardless.

Somehow I’m doubting that people who use irregardless even know what irrespective means. Maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt? Mmmm . . . nah.


Jami brought up one of my all-time favorite peeves (if that makes any sense).

Nauseous
This is an adjective describing something else that makes you feel sick to your stomach.

Mold could be nauseous.

The smell of vomit could be nauseous.

During my pregnancies, I thought bacon was nauseous.

But *I* was NAUSEATED.

If *I* am nauseous, then I’m personally disgusting and I make other people want to throw up! Not what people generally intend to imply when they say, "I'm so nauseous." (This one makes me giggle.)

This word is so misused that it's losing ground (you remember how language changes, right?). Nauseous is fast becoming acceptable in the sense of how you feel, rather than just describing something else that makes you sick.

Regardless (ha!), I still can't hear it without getting a funny image in my head, and I personally can't get myself to use it that way.


Sher mentioned a great one:

Needless to say

If you can include this phrase, then you should delete the phrase AND whatever comes after it. If you don’t need to say it—if it’s that obvious—then DON’T SAY IT.

Finally, LeeAnn mentioned a fun slip-up:

Excite/exite
Weird part here is that the second word isn’t even a word, just a common misspelling of the first one.

(One of my personal spelling peeves is seeing DEFINITELY written as DEFINATELY. Ergh!).

Excite means to get something or something worked up, or excited.

Exite doesn’t mean anything, but it looks like those green signs in the movie theater that you leave through.


This was a great list. Keep the peeves coming!

27 comments:

Kristina P. said...

The one I do struggle with is the nauseous one. I know that rule, but it's one of those that I forget which one is correct.

Erin said...

I'm totally with you on the I could care less one. Oh, so you COULD care less? Great!

Maybe you've already talked about this one, but "might could" drives me up the wall.

Erin said...

Drives me up the wall figuratively speaking, of course. Hee hee!

Jami said...

I can't believe the word is going to give in to nauseous misuse. We're going to wander around insulting ourselves and others with no consequences whatsoever? That's nauseous.

Lara said...

When I am pregnant, I really am nauseous. I can't stand the smell of anything, including myself. Hee hee. :)

All of these are HUGE pet peeves for me. Especially the one about caring less. Or not caring less.

Well, except needless to say. That doesn't bother me. I use it a lot I think.

I'll have to think of some...I have noticed a lot of things on blogs that people write incorrectly, but if you were to say them, you might not catch that it is wrong.

The other day I saw someone say, "I am in the mists of making a project." Things like that. I need to start writing them down.

LisAway said...

I have never once heard nauseous used in the correct way (that I can remember). I have certainly never used it correctly. I looked it up and there is a short "correct" definition and a huge old "usage note" which basically says what your post about the evolution of language says is happening here.

I say "I'm nauseous" and I'm still totally smart (or, I should say, "extremely smart"). And hardly anyone throws up when they see me.

::Jan:: said...

I type things out all the time that are just plain wrong. My son is taking a grammar class in college right now. I always think of you when I see the textbook on the table :)

I love your mini classes in here. I learn a lot.

Brooke said...

I'm with you girl. One thing I HATE is supposably. Isn't it supposedly? My problem is that I don't even know if I'm spelling them right. I also hate when someone uses a plural when they should have used a singular. Example: women for one woman. sheesh.

Heidi Ashworth said...

I am always so afraid I will spell defintely wrong that I just use "deff". Which is wrong. Very very wrong. On oh so many levels. I also hate the "irregardless" one b/c it seems so super obvious. And when people write quite when they mean quiet. I should probably stop now. No, I should deff stop now.

Luisa Perkins said...

These all make me nutty, but 'nauseous/nauseated' is the worst, as far as I'm concerned.

Keep 'em coming!

Rebecca said...

In all my word travels, I never realized that I was using "nauseous" incorrectly until an episode of "Big Bang Theory". I feel very sheepish indeed after that.

Since I am pregnant, I find myself nauseous quite often. It has to do with my super sense of smell.

I'm so glad you addressed the "could/couldn't care less" one! The "irregardless" one too. You are my favorite Grammar Nazi forever and ever!

Along with excite/exite, the one that makes me laugh is when people say "exited" instead of "excited".

Brooke, "supposably" instead of "supposedly" drives me crazy too!

Mina said...

Erin--people say "might could"????? For rills? (sorry, I just visited SSB) I have honestly never heard that one. Maybe it's the result of inbreeding.

Heidi--typing quite for quiet is just the sort of thing I do. My fingers sometimes get ahead of themselves and there you have it. I often type my name Mian.

Annette--one that makes me nuts is when people use an adverb where they needed an adjective, just to sound educated. For Example : "I'm feeling poorly." Are you? Then I won't ask you to proof read this Braille.

Heffalump said...

I never knew the nauseous one before. It's because I was raised hearing it used the wrong way! Yeah...
My main pet peeves are your/you're and there/their. It especially drives me crazy when I find it in letters from my kids' teachers.

RobisonWells said...

I'll admit that I spell "definitely" wrong all the time. I also cannot ever seem to spell "occasionally" or "necessarily". (I had to look them both up just now.)

David G. Woolley said...

Irregardless of what Lyon, KristinaP, or Merriam-Webster and their ivory tower associates say, the improper usage is not derived from the confusion of two words, but rather, in the fact that the word itself has a certain aristocratic ring. It possesses an educated aura of the highest breeding. It descends upon the ears of the romance reader as "so 19th century" as to leave to the harlequin imagination the inevitability that even Mr. Darcy, should he be granted breath to address his enraptured fans in gallant English brogue, would include it in his lexicon.

So there you have it. Irregardless is stuffy, uppity, victorian and so multisylabically cool. It can also be found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary of words of higher breeding.

Use it irregardless of what Sister Lyon or her pack of raging word nerd fans say. They are so pied-piperish!

Rebecca said...

Oh, forget it. I can't say what I even think I mean. I need a nap.

Mr. Darcy would use "regardless" because he wasn't around in the 1900s when the word became part of our dialect in America. If he heard "irregardless" he would think it was a joke. He's from late 1700s/early 1800s England.

And yes, I am personally acquainted with him.


Funny how it doesn't sound more "proper" to me, just like the person doesn't know how to use the correct word.

To each his own, I guess.

Melanie J said...

A strange thing I've noticed only since I started blogging is the surprising number of people who spell "wa la!" instead of "voila!" I think that's so odd.

the letter Bee said...

'Irregardless' is one of my pet peeves too. It's actually on my Dead to Me list.

I really hate the "wah-la" thing too.

Alison Wonderland said...

Oo, the could/couldn't care less is a big one of mine.

I had never thought about the nauseaus/nauseated thing before.

I had a friend ask me the other day if swum was really a word. I thought it was funny, and a little sad.

Summer said...

I'm very word picky too but I still have words I use wrong. Like, I had no idea that saying
"I'm nauseous" was incorrect. That's the only term I've ever known for it and I never thought to question it. :)

Alyson (New England Living) said...

I didn't know about the nauseous thing until a friend from Costa Rica told me. Sad that I had to learn that from someone whose first language is Spanish! Now I'm very careful about using that word.

Oh, one thing I get confused about is then/than. I always get confused about when to use each. Any quick answers for that one?

Annette Lyon said...

Alyson, I'll add it to my list for a future post! Then/than is a common one.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I love WNW! I even thought of you when I posted last night ... I used figuratively and literally ... and I am hopeful I used them in the correct manner. (I almost said hopefully, but don't we abuse that word all the time, too?)

My pet peeves? Lose vs loose ... this one drives me bonkers. The definitely one also gets to me.

It also makes me cringe when I hear supposebly instead of supposedly or patriarticle instead of patriarchal. People also commonly mispronounce the magazine The Ensign. (In the older editions you could find the following inside the front cover: "The Ensign, preferred pronunciation, N'sign not S'sun.")

But I am not one to talk. I still don't get the whole lie/lay usage. And even at times the whole me vs I in a sentence throws me for a loop ... can you help me on those ones?

Sandra said...

Me vs. I- if you can say the sentence with out the other person in it but me is still correct then use me.

Example- You and I went to the store or You and me went to the store. The first one is correct because you would never, ever say "Me went to the store." (unless you are 2 years old- then it is ok). But you would say, "I went to the store."

Or how about- He went with you and me. He went with you and I. Again, the first example because you would not say, "He went with I."

Rach said...

Can I say "I'm FEELING nauseous?" Does that work?

Annette Lyon said...

Rach, that doesn't work, because if you're FEELING nauseous, then technically you're feeling as if you gross people out.

But there's really no need to get paranoid about this one. 90% of people use it "wrong," so it's becoming "right" to use it that way. I'm just a purist on this one!

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

I was amused reading this. I listen to the radio on my commute to work and these talk radio guys had a language expert as a guest and they had people calling in language errors. Very informative just like this post. I think the texting culture (I have teen-agers) will drive you crazy :-) All the intentional mispelling and abbreviations! Total disregard for rules.

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