Saturday, 13 April 2013

A Present and a Word I Don't Like

I've rather given up on the subject of grammar and punctuation recently.  No one takes any notice anyway.  However when I was up in Northland one of Pauline's friends, Chris, (whom I've known since I first went to Northland to visit Pauline some years ago) gave me a present when we met at the Waipu Easter Carnival.

The present was a 1936 publication: ABC of English Usage.  It's fascinating.  The first word I looked up was pleonasm which is one of my favourite grammar terms.  It is there.

The second word I looked up was one of my pet dislikes at the moment because it has suddenly come into vogue in the UK and NZ and is used frequently on the radio and television news.  It's even coming into  everyday conversation amongst the literati.  That word is eventuate.  Its pretentiousness grates with me because it always seems to me that it is being used to replace the perfectly good word 'happen'.

In New Zealand the term 'shit happens' is a very common one.  Everyone knows what it means.  I wouldn't mind betting that if you asked a cross section of the population what 'shit eventuates' means they wouldn't have a clue.  So why be so showy?  If a bureaucrat used it s/he would be slated for a lack of plain English.

Whilst on the subject of the Waipu Carnival one of my few photos (the weather was not very pleasant) was to show that Scots get everywhere:


It's good to have a little rant now and again.  Especially when one has just had yet another Very Good Day.

33 comments:

  1. I wish I could find old publications of all the basic English grammar books that we used in school to add to my library. We had excellent readers.
    Some things I have forgotten, and some English language basics have been massacred by others over time.

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    1. I know that language changes constantly Virginia but sometimes it seems to me to be unnecessary, pretentious or just incorrect usage.

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  2. At our age, good days are very much appreciated.

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  3. I so agree a about this sudden influx of new words. I heard "directionology" the other day, used instead of "direction". Why do people do this?

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    1. Ah Frances why indeed?

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    2. Wow - directionology! That's brilliant, Frances.

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  4. welcome to my club, GB! I rant mostly about errors in print- signs, books, newspapers. I have two phrases that get me right down to the bone- "very unique" and "awesome." BTW, I appreciate a man in a kilt! I don't know why; I just do.
    wishes for another good day for you!

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    1. Thank you Norma. I can cope with 'awesome' if it's used correctly which it seldom is. 'Very unique' is, of course, incorrect!

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  5. Ah. Men "elegantly dressed in a skirt"... ;)

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  6. Scots always look god in frocks.

    Eventuates is a new one for me. 'ABSOLUTELY!' and 'ROBUST!' are the ones that I detest.

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    1. I'm surprised that you've not come across 'eventuate' Adrian. It seems to me to crop up every day.

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  7. Ja z,on rokje moet wel kunnen.

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    1. Nic. Kvinnor bär byxor så .......

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  8. Ha! The word "pleonasm" (of course, the German version of it, pleonasmus) was what landed me my job as a library assistant back in 1985. Along with 200 others, I applied for the job - and got it. I was later told that I was the ONLY one who had given the correct answer to the question "what is a pleonasmus?" in the recruitment test.

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    1. Yes Meike I don't think that many people know the word and yet most of us are 'guilty' of being pleonastic.

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    2. I thought a pleonasmus was a small dinosaur, Meike!

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  9. Dude, what's eventuating? Ha!
    My pet peeve lately is when, after saying thank you, the response is "No problem" instead of "you're welcome."

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    1. Ah Lisa but if you were in France (which of course you are not!) then de rien (it's nothing) is the usual response so it probably got exported and someone caught on. 'Eventuate' was originally from the US.

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  10. Don't, just don't get me started.

    'going forward' is my most recent hated phrase.

    Also 'designer outlet', which I think means 'a shop'

    And there are loads more.

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    1. Ha Marcel. I just did get you started. Doubtless 'instore' is on your list too.

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  11. Shit has happened and we hope karma eventuates.... actually it is eventuating nicely. Just for Jaz and I...
    awesome! just for Norma
    no problem... for shabby girl
    and for GB, me, myself, I am coming out of the black darkness going forward (thanks Marcel) into the white lightness with new directionology ( thanks Frances).

    At the end of the day,um, like, people get what they deserve, um, eventually, like.....

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  12. Nice to see that Chris' little book has sparked such debate. We found it in a little second hand shop in the backblocks up north somewhere. Can't remember exactly where we were, not far from Okaihau I think. I'm guilty of Shabby Girl's pet peeve. I like "No problem", I find "You're welcome" is often not very convincing and almost as false as "Have a nice day."

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    1. Yes Paulione. It's a veritable treasure trove. I looked at it and thought '1936 isn't that long ago' but it is. It's not far off 80 years ago and that's older than most - possibly all - people who are reading this post.

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  13. Eventuate is a new one to me. Maybe I just don't get out enough! I think grammar is important but I've pretty well given up trying to go by the rules.

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    1. Apparently Red it originated in the US but I suspect you have stopped using it somewhere in the middle of the last century. As for the rules of grammar I, too, have all but given up.

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    2. GB, I'll believe that last sentence of yours when I see it! If you give up on grammar who will I turn to for a good moan?

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    3. You have a point there CJ. Perhaps I can rekindle my ardour.

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  14. I feel guilty about most of my linguistic peevishness - except where I think the language comes from the corporate world (eg 'going forward') or springs from a sinister desire to obscure the heinous (eg 'collateral damage'). Way back, when I was studying English language, a wonderful man, Professor Samuels explained patiently to my room of fellow undergraduates that language wasn't static - it had 'an ineluctable desire to change'. The result?- that there are almost no words in English which have been around for more than a few hundred years without taking on new meanings or changing their old ones.
    Our language lives and breathes. It evolves. I still get peevish about changes - but then I remember my old Professor.

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    1. It's not change, per se, that I have any objection to or dislike of, Yvonne, it's when the use of words is just plain incorrect (which this is not) or affected and pretentious (there, I've been pleonastic) which I consider this to be.

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