Bitch, whinge, grizzle
(Australian for complain)

Slovenly use of the English language alloys me, especially when it is in the work of those whose job is the use of language. Unfortunately journalists and reporters, who should set an example, are often among the worst offenders.

Written 2008/12/25, modified 2018/01/07
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com

Misuse of the English language

There are many clichéd uses of words that people, especially it seems, Those in the media, pick up and copy unthinkingly. Please give a bit of thought to how you use your bloody words!

Sometimes adopting a term for a new meaning adds something to English; for example to use 'about-face' - which literally means 'to spin around by 180 degrees' - to indicate that a person has radically changed his stance on something, is useful and produces an appropriate mental image. But to use 'back-flip' - where the person comes out of the maneuver facing the same direction as when he went in - for the same purpose is simply stupid.

Sometimes it is useful to adopt a word from another language when there is a lack of an appropriate word in English. The French word 'genre' is an example of this; but did we really need it, wouldn't one of the English words: 'type', 'sort', 'class', 'kind' serve the same purpose in nearly all cases? I have the impression that many people use 'genre' and similarly borrowed words because they believe that it makes them sound erudite.

Specific examples of misuses of English that really piss me off

The word you most likely need is develop; 'unfold' relates to paper and similar, not to situations. (As a friend of my said, the misuse of the word 'unfold' is probably confined to unfolded [developed] nations, I doubt that it's much used in folded [undeveloped] nations.)

Don't start a sentence with 'so' unless it serves some purpose, other than showing that you are not thinking about what you are saying.

Don't throw 'like' into a sentence unless it serves some purpose.

I mean
Usually when this starts a sentence it is just a filler.

You know
If the listener really does know then there's no need to say what you are saying. Most times 'you know' or 'y-know' is just a filler.

Amount or number
Use 'amount' when referring to things that you can't put a number on; for example, 'amount of sand'. Use 'number' when referring to things that you could put a number to; for example, 'number of people'. Don't say 'amount of people' for Christ's sake.

This word is used by stupid people, who don't consider its meaning, when what they want to say is 'about-face' or 'radically changed his position'. Plainly when someone does a back-flip they finish facing the same direction as when they started, while what is meant is that they have reversed their stance on something.

At this point in time
Why use five words when one will do, 'now'?

The word is spelled 'nuclear' and pronounced 'new clear'; what's difficult about that?

The oposite of credible. Obviously the word means 'something that cannot be credited', 'something that is not to be believed'; but most people use it to mean 'exciting', 'surprising', 'wonderful', etc. Someone said of my Net pages that they were incredible; I'm sure they meant it as a compliment!

Much the same as 'incredible'.

The word has an 'l' in it morons; 'vulnerable', it should be pronounced 'vol-ner-able'.

At the end of the day
How overworked this one is! If it was just used once in a while it would be quite acceptable, but some people seem to have to use it every ten seconds.

No-one uses the perfectly good word 'explain' any more. "He spelled-out the details of the new law in the press release". Of course he did, you twit, if it was in writing it had to be spelled-out.

"He literally exploded with anger". It would be an interesting sight!

Any thoughts about others that should be added to the list?

Then there's a few curiosities of the common use of English.
Why do people talk about a 'desert island'?
When what they generally seem to mean is an unoccupied lush, well vegetated island.