Wednesday, December 08, 2010

WNW: Things We Say Wrong--Right

Found a fun video showing a lot of incorrect usage and pronunciation in English. It's really funny and worth taking a look/listen.

Two of my favorite bits:
"Text messaging has erased any sense of spelling you may have gleaned"

"I could care less."

But . . . I have a few beefs.

First, watch the video. Then read my rant.




Okay . . .

First off, he says that if you feel bad that's incorrect. He insists that the adverb form is needed: you feel badly.

See, here's the thing: feel bad is just fine.

In fact, it's more correct . . . unless he's discussing the sensing capability of his nerve endings and how they just don't work anymore.

Then he could feel badly, because he'd be NUMB.

Aside from that example, the fact is that you don't always need the -ly adverbial form, which he brings up multiple times, like with talk different vs. talk differently.

It comes down to FLAT ADVERBS, something this dude could use a lesson on.

(For a quick lesson, check out Grammar Girl's explanation. She points out that flat adverbs go back the 1600s. They're more popular now, but hardly new.)

And then there's this complaint:

a whole nother apple

Here's the deal: English has lots of pre-fixes (like UN as in unsolved puzzle), and suffixes (like FUL, as in thankFUL), and many others.

Just about every language also has IN-fixes, where the "fix" is sandwiched in the middle of words. English doesn't support infixes very well, but guess what?

A whole nother is essentially an English INFIX.

They exist, dude. Deal with it.

Also, alternate pronunciations aren't wrong just because they exist. Yes, words are sometimes pronounced incorrectly, but if, over decades, more than one pronunciation is considered acceptable by the educated masses, the others will be added to dictionaries.

This happens with English a lot, since most of the planet speaks it (at least as a second language), and many, many countries have it as a national language and speak it with their own pronunciation and variations.

(I'm not about to tell an Aussie that his way of saying "mate" is wrong. Are you?)

Thing is, LANGUAGE EVOLVES. (Read that post for yet another rant.)

From Chaucer's and Shakespeare's standpoints, our English would be ridiculously "wrong." But no, it's not wrong. English has just CHANGED over the centuries. A lot.

The final kicker of the video would be really funny if he weren't still harping on the adverbial thing.

I wanted to absolutely love the video. I loved parts. But he lost a bit of credibility on some points. Sigh.

Note on last week's WNW: Got a few questions on passive voice, including whether something like "she was excited" falls under that umbrella. Will discuss that soon!

21 comments:

Sadie said...

You always crack me up... And I always thought I was an English nut!

Annette Lyon said...

Yeah, I'm probably way past "nut." I'm obsessive. :D

T said...

I usually love these videos - he's got some funny ones to be sure.

and if "nucular" ever becomes correct... remind me to shoot myself. (of course, don't tell the guys at Rocky Flats Nuclear Power Plant it's wrong... the welcome video has it mispronounced... no joke - which is about when I zoned out and decided they were morons)

Kristina P. said...

I'm so glad it's OK to say "Feel bad." I remember reading somewhere how completely incorrect that was, and then I feel like an idiot.

I used to say "could care less", until I read on a message board that really annoys people, and I have remembered to say "couldn't care less", ever since.

LisAway said...

David, who has rather poor English, often teases his brother that he is, "gonna spank his bum SO hardly!" He makes nearly all his adverbs end in ly, even if they shouldn't. It's kind of cute. Mostly, though, I wish he'd learn some English. :)

Sue said...

I enjoyed most of it.

The glaring problem for me was his thinking that "feel badly" was correct usage within the context he gave. Of course, I guess it would be correct in the event that he had some kind of sensory deficit and was actually bad at feeling.

Getting that one wrong pretty much ruins his linguistic cred as far as I'm concerned...

"/

Scott said...

Didn't you have a post about "could care less?"
I'm glad you have WNW. They're informative and fun. I'm looking forward to the post about passive voice. It's something I know I need to work on!

Anonymous said...

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Melissa J. Cunningham said...

I thought this video was hilarious and then I read your post and it was even funnier! There's nothing worse that being called out! ha ha. You should send your post to him! That would be awesome. You are too dang smart. I want to be you when I grow up.

Kimberly said...

The video is funny, but you, my friend, are funnier by far. And quite adorable too. I love your rants. They either resonate with me because I feel the same, or they educate me because I have so much still to learn from you.

DeNae said...

If I remember that dream I had after spicy guacamole nachos, olde English used words like "napron" - descendants of which include "nappy" which is a British diaper, and "napkin" which my son believes is a synonym for "sleeve". According to the giant avocado in my dream, this is where the language mutated from "a napron" to "an apron". And I think that's where the language is headed with "a(insert word)nother".

As for "either", he's forgetting that English has umpteen base languages, and he's applying archaic English rules to words that could just as easily be pronounced according to, for example, Germanic rules. In which case, "either" (first syllable rhyming with 'eye') is a completely appropriate pronunciation. If we were to get really fussy, we'd base our pronunciation on the word's original provenance. Yeah. I'll pass.

My mispronounced pet peeve o' the week? "Jewl-ery."

MommyJ said...

Before I comment, I feel I should consult my patriartical blessing to see if there is anything I should be aware of. Suposably, they can be helpful in situations like this.

Ok, seriously. If those two mispronunciations up there, along with nucular, ever become acceptable, (or maybe I should say exceptable just for fun) after T shoots herself, she can shoot me. But only in the foot, cause she might feel badly if she did any real damage. You know what, I'm going to drop the ly all together and just say feel badder. I think that sounds better anyway.

Love learning from you Annette. :)

Annette Lyon said...

You guys are totally cracking me up. :)

(And Scott, I DID do a post on that very thing--click on the phrase. It's a link to that post!)

Jordan said...

I actually love "nother." I think it's adorable. (Or should I say "a dorable"?) Seeing "a whole other thing" looks naked, sad and wrong. I hope DeNae's right about that transition.

(We had a missionary once when I was a teenager who was physically incapable of saying the word "jewelry." :( )

Helena said...

Yeah! It's like the difference between "I smell badly" and "I smell bad."

Julie Wright said...

I will never be as smart as you!

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L.T. Elliot said...

I have to admit that "a whole nother" makes me insane--especially when I accidentally use it. EEP! But the thing that made me the most insane? Tooken. Wha?

And this comment section is on fire! You guys are cracking me up!

Erin said...

I am enjoying reading the comments, as well as your post. You're pretty much an English genius. Or maybe just a word nerd :)

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