I have a confession to make. I am a vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation vigilante.
English transgressions have the power to send me into despairing rage. For that matter, I’ve been known to call attention to German transgressions (having studied the language for eight years in high school and college). I once wrote a letter to the makers of Müeslix cereal because they use both the umlaut over the “u” AND the “ue” form, which is totally redundant and incorrect. Important stuff, no?
I have in the past red-penned the following maddening errors in grocery stores:
- “No less
thenTHAN 90% lean ground beef.
- “Temporarily out of stock. Please
bareBEAR with us.” The original would only be correct if it were a purveyor of groceries for nudists.
I’ve seen this one on Facebook and WordPress several times – once even in a city government FB post:
- We want to peak your interest. (Almost seems correct – after all, a peak is a high point. Sorry, though. This is wrong.)
Alternately, I’ve even seen this one:
- We want to peek your interest. (I can’t imagine any justification for this mistake.)
For the record…it’s PIQUE, folks. French origin.
Here’s a verbal habit/nervous tick I hear ALL THE TIME in interviews on NPR. Generally this type of phrase gets uttered by someone who is well-educated, often an expert in his or her particular field:
- It was very sort of… OR
- It was extremely kind of
AAAAARRRGGGHHH! “Very/sort of” and “Extremely/kind of” are opposites. I have a feeling these phrases are used because the speaker is unwilling to take a firm stand on whatever it is he or she is asserting. Just go for it, people. Things are allowed to be both “very” and “extremely,” especially when it has already been established that you know what you’re talking about.
Ooh, ooh, ooh – and then there’s the use of quotation marks in place of all-caps or bold or italics, for emphasis. That’s “very sort of” annoying. Putting something you want emphasized in quotation marks simply has the effect of making it appear that you don’t really hold the opinion you’re espousing. That you’re being sarcastic.
The abuse of to/too/two, they’re/there/their, your/you’re, and it’s/its is so pervasive I don’t even mess with those any more. I just cry a little and move on.
I freely admit that my obsession with these issues is unpleasant and possibly obnoxious. In my own defense, I can only state that I was born this way. I also happen to have been possibly the only teen in the history of the world who enjoyed diagramming sentences.
Please forgive me. Thank you and good day.