What Did You Say?

Although the English language can be tricky, there is no excuse for the many blunders that abound in today's vernacular.

People say the craziest things sometimes.  When I worked in the HR department for a call center, I helped hire agents and had the chance to audit their phone conversations.  It was very shocking to hear some blatant blunders on their parts.  Some of it was due to the agent's lack of education, but that wasn't always the case.  There were people with degrees who were just as guilty of faux pas .  One of my pet peeves is hearing the English language butchered.  Accordingly, I came up with a list of the top blunders:

1. "That's not rocket scientist" when describing an easy task.  I kid you not!  The correct phrase would be "that's not rocket science."  Unfortunately this one was said a lot by one of my superiors.  Scary.

2. Handicapped-assessable in place of accessible in describing a customer's reservation accommodating a handicapped person.

3. Pacific in place of specific for describing an exact item or thing in detail.

4. Opposed or a-pose(d) in place of suppose(d).  Whether on the phone or in person, I have heard many people in the area where I live say that when saying they are "supposed to do" something.

5. A-cause or uh-cause in place of because.  You'd think people would know the difference, but there you go.

6. Heighth instead of height.  Not sure if people tend to get confused with that word if they are also saying width in a sentence, but either way, it is NOT ok to get carried away and add an extra "t" in that word.  Along those lines, I've even heard plust  for plus in math vernacular.  And acrosst  in place of across.  How that horrible "t" gives me a headache!

7. Leaving out prepositions when describing something: "The car needs washed" instead of "the car needs to be washed".  In fact, I hear that one every day from people all around me.  When did the English language become so lax?

I am far from speaking perfect English myself - I admit, there are times when shortcuts with slang get the point across much quicker than a properly-worded sentence - such as with "gotta go" for "I have to get going".  I blame that mostly on emailing, online chats, and texting.  But there are still standards to which I hold myself - things like double negatives have no place in my head - I would never say "Ain't got no" instead of "I don't have any".  I feel like if we shorten the English language any more, we'd be talking like cavemen and cavewomen with guttural noises and mono-syllable words!

But it doesn't end there, because where oral language is bad, you can be sure that the written language has become sloppy.  Do people use dictionaries anymore?  It used to be they were consulted regularly for spelling and  pronunciation.  The sad thing is, those who didn't grasp phonics in grade school can't navigate through the dictionary, because they don't know what certain words start with, or they have never heard anyone ever speak those words (or just not correctly).  So they are lost on two fronts, because now they'll never be able to spell, nor will they ever be able to find out how to pronounce the words they use on a regular basis. 

The best thing my 5th grade teacher did for my class was to have us go through the dictionary one word at a time, starting at the letter A, and pick out a word we didn't know and learn how to pronounce it; understand its definition and use it in a sentence.  One of the first books beginning readers should have is a simple dictionary, to become familiar with the concept and build on common words before advancing to the standard versions.  It might sound nerdy, but I'll take that title any day rather than the one of being an inept language moron!

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Posted on Nov 19, 2009
Daniel Snyder
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Posted on Nov 18, 2009
carol roach
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Posted on Oct 12, 2009