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Call 911, They’re Killing The English Language

In an email I recently sent, I unintentionally typed “breath easy” instead of  “breathe easy.”

How embarrassing! I hate careless typos. Hate ‘em. They don’t insult my sensibility; rather, the words actually look misshapen to me. If gambling was based on spelling, I would win big in Vegas. I love my spelling ability. If I see a misspelled word on a store awning or on a sign in a store window, I will never enter that store. That insults my sensibility.

If the written word is going to represent me, dang it, those words will be specifically chosen, and certainly spelled correctly. This is the job of the actor, to communicate as specifically as possible.

People don’t read books anymore, newspapers are dying, publishing houses seem to have lowered their standards; colloquialisms and street lexicon have dumbed us down even further.  For example, “What happened?” is an appropriate question to ask at the scene of an accident. Maybe it’s something your parents have asked you upon entering a living room full of empty bottles, Cheez Doodles, upside-down chairs, remnants of a card game, and broken things.

“What happened?” is not an appropriate question to ask when I say something and you do not hear it. When this occurs, I reply, “Nothing happened, I said some words; did you mean to ask me what I said?” (I can be difficult sometimes.) Then the listener correctly says, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

Asking "what happened?" would be appropriate here.

This also occurs with “for real.”  If someone says, “for real,” it’s to assure you that what they are saying at that moment is the truth, as if all that came before is a lie. I also hate when someone says “Honestly” in conversation.  The paranoid part of me thinks that everything until then was a defense mechanism as if to keep me at arm’s length until I have them cornered. Then they relent and sigh, “Honestly, Charlie…”

We are all guilty of misusing “like” to convey our emotional state of being, usually in recounting a story. For example; “I was late to work and my boss was like, in my face about it, and I was like, ‘The train was late, it wasn’t my fault, a woman had a baby and then the train derailed’ and my boss was like, ‘You should have left earlier, you know better.’”

When people want to, or try to, sound authoritative, or at least smarter than they actually are, they begin sentences with the word “basically.” That makes my skin crawl. Why? Because what they say is never basic! The concept is never reduced to its most basic, bare-bones definition, to something actually basic. In fact, they tend to make it more complicated!

I also hate when people mispronounce “mischievous” as “mis-chee-vi-ous”. It’s like steel clawed gloves scratching a blackboard. I try to give the benefit of the doubt; maybe those people are dyslexic and think that the letter “E” comes before the letter “I,” and that they ought to pronounce it as such. The spelling rule is “I before E except after C”. That means, immediately after C, as in “receive.”  Otherwise “Charlie” could be misspelled “Charlei”.

Do these same people dare mispronounce the name of General Grievous in  Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith? Oh, I should think not! See for yourself:

My grandmother staunchly believes that Jimmy Carter permanently foisted two terrible grammatical sins upon us:
1. Adding “Ly” to modify the word “important.” Important is properly modified as follows;
something is: important; more important; most important.
Do not add “Ly” to the end of that. It is incorrect.

2. The common mispronunciation of the word, “Nuclear”. It is not nuke-youler.
Say it properly with me, “New-clear. New-clear. New-clear.”
Thank you.

The NFL has a team called the Jacksonville Jaguars. How does one television commentator pronounce the name of the franchise?  “Jag-wires”. That commentator’s name is Paul Maguire. Mr. Maguire has found a way to insert his surname into the name of the franchise. How egotistical is that?

If I had any hair, I would have pulled it all out by this point in this blog.
People wear Jewelry, not jew-lery.
Turkeys are done, people are finished.
It’s pronounced “In-teg-ral”, not “Intrical”.
Some people say “Play by year” instead of “Play by ear.” Clearly, they don’t know what the phrase means.

Asking "what happened?" would not be appropriate here

If “proximity” is defined as, “nearness in space, closeness in a series,” then why do some people say “close proximity”, as if the two words should go together?

Tasks are not done good, they are done “well.” When I hear “He’s swinging the bat real good,” I want to hit myself in the head with a shoe, several times. When someone asks you how you’re doing, and you reply “I’m doing good,” it’s bad usage. You should say “I’m doing well, thank you.” People frequently refer to liberals who want to save the world as “do-gooders.” I guess it just sounds better than “do-wellers,” right?

Folks, it’s “cohesion”! “Cohesiveness” may be in the dictionary, but so is “Doody”.  (There goes your argument.) It sounds incorrect to me.

Here’s a thought: “If you sound stupid saying it,  don’t say it!” If you engage in a conversation, and it’s sprinkled with sinful pronunciations which are harsh on the ear, you lose.  I suffer from hearing it, but you lose any standing in the conversation.

More and more people say “Agreeance.” For this folly I believe that we can thank a metal “singer” at the mTv awards a few years ago.

When I hear people mispronounce “escape” as “exscape,” I want to cry.

Finally, we have “irregardless”. If the intention is to disregard something, we’d say “Regardless”. Mistakenly putting an “ir” in front only serves as a double negative. That one really pisses me off. Oh look, I ended that sentence in a preposition! I’m guilty too!

In the 1988 movie D.O.A., the villain says to Dennis Quaid, (playing an English professor, of all things), “I don’t think I like what you’re inferring.” Quaid answers, “Implying. When I say it, that’s implying. How you take it, that’s inferring.” The villain then says, “I see. Infer this.”, and then he punches Quaid in the face. Just like you want to do to me right now.

Here are two words my wife hates: “ointment” and “detritus”. What’s her problem?

Come back for “words that I love” in my next installment…

36 comments

1 David Palmer { 12.07.10 at 10:48 am }

Your, like, killing me, totally, Charly!

2 claire { 12.07.10 at 11:07 am }

Just curious, what is your position on the word ‘colour/color’ and the way it is spelled? As Im English, I hold that it should be spelled with a ‘U’.

3 charlie { 12.07.10 at 11:22 am }

Thanks for the feedback, David and Claire. Claire, spelling colour with a U is the widely accepted non-US spelling. It is spelled that way in the UK, Canada, Australia, etc. It seems that we Americans are the ones who mis-spell the word! Cheers mate!

4 D-MO { 12.07.10 at 3:18 pm }

U no that its fo sho. U my home dawg char char……YO

5 Sebastian { 12.07.10 at 6:30 pm }

*embarrassing

I hope you didn’t gamble TOO much in Vegas, Charlie!

6 Mother of Actors { 12.07.10 at 11:40 pm }

Oh Charles thou art the man! Now tell me why can’t Americans say Library and Laboratory correctly- Secretary seems to give similar difficulty. (not liberry, Labra-tory or sec-u-terry) AND don’t get me started on the use of the apostrophe …or for that matter, commencing a sentence with and! To paraphrase Sir Winson Churchill I will say “That is a situation up with which I shall not put” Oh yes, and I dislike those who say “don’t axe me” You know then that I am imagining that very thing.

7 Em { 12.08.10 at 3:00 pm }

Do you know how often I’ll be browsing through my satellite provider’s descriptions of television programs, only to find they’ve misspelled basic words within their blurbs? Why, just today, on a program about culinary delights in Paris, the genius in charge of the description wrote, “…intense, sweet flavors are found in small French deserts…”

8 Charlie Fersko - Admission { 12.08.10 at 6:55 pm }

Thanks Sebastian.
Neither Spellcheck nor my editor picked up on my embarrassing error. Noted and fixed.

9 kyio { 12.11.10 at 6:06 am }

vegas kicks ass. hope you could see some action there

10 Baby Sign { 12.15.10 at 2:04 pm }

haha nice posts…its really killing the language :D

11 Chelon { 01.13.11 at 2:16 pm }

Isn’t it funny…I find myself nervous to respond as I do not want to use poor grammar…haha! Loved your insight to the increasing stupidity we demonstrate when we speak…ok, maybe not “we”! This blog reminded me of one of my favorite “Modern Family” episodes regarding the package of baby Jesus instead of baby cheeses…all due to accents and the English language! Thanks for the fun and educational break in my routine!
Chelon

12 techbology News { 02.11.11 at 7:29 am }

i like this articles guys

13 garageband for windows { 02.11.11 at 7:31 am }

Oh Charles thou art the man!

14 BUY TARGETED WEBSITE TRAFFIC { 02.28.11 at 2:42 pm }

Lol, good post. Interesting comments

15 EMAIL LISTS FOR SALE { 02.28.11 at 2:42 pm }

Totally agree! Its great

16 EB { 03.11.11 at 11:22 pm }

Ok, ok….how about MINES and ANYWAYS?
I’ve even heard ANYWAYS on film! Those two words make my skin crawl!!
Great post!

17 shuvo@online criminal justice degree { 05.01.11 at 11:34 am }

You have shown here some good example of some terrific use of English language.Enjoyed the article.

18 David - Dermaroller Expert { 05.17.11 at 7:59 am }

As a British man (I’m from Wales – not England) i am pleased to read an American trying to ensure that people use the correct words in the correct way!
One thing, why is it that a lot of Americans say “I could care less about ….” when plainly and logically what they actually mean is “I could NOT care less” ?

19 Jason { 05.23.11 at 1:08 am }

I believe this problem exists in all languages​​. In the German words are often left out – people are lazy. But perhaps this makes exactly one language.

20 poptropica cheats { 05.29.11 at 7:21 pm }

Thanks for the feedback, David and Claire. Claire, spelling colour with a U is the widely accepted non-US spelling. It is spelled that way in the UK, Canada, Australia, etc. It seems that we Americans are the ones who mis-spell the word! Cheers mate!

21 lasvegashotel { 05.29.11 at 7:22 pm }

Thanks for the feedback, David and Claire. Claire, spelling colour with a U is the widely accepted non-US spelling. It is spelled that way in the UK, Canada, Australia, etc. It seems that we Americans are the ones who mis-spell the word! Cheers mate!

22 Shawn Kirby { 06.12.11 at 9:25 pm }

Wow. We really do butcher the language a lot. Your post really made it clear how much we mess up without even noticing!

23 imprimir folletos { 07.04.11 at 12:24 pm }

Totally agree! Its great

24 imprimir folletos { 07.04.11 at 12:25 pm }

Lol, good post. Interesting comments

25 police exam { 07.04.11 at 7:45 pm }

Congratulations! I am so proud of you all! All of your hard work and sacrifice paid off with a brilliant win! I hope you all get a chance to enjoy your accomplishment!

26 hernawanjrs { 07.15.11 at 4:01 am }

As a British man (I’m from Wales – not England) i am pleased to read an American trying to ensure that people use the correct words in the correct way!
One thing, why is it that a lot of Americans say “I could care less about ….” when plainly and logically what they actually mean is “I could NOT care less” ?

27 Johnny Cash Fan { 07.18.11 at 12:09 pm }

You didn’t even address the affect texting is having on the English language. This is having a far greater influence that anything else.

And for the record, I agree with you that we need to save the English language. However, you have to remember that languages change over time. That is what they do. We don’t speak or write like we did 200-300 years ago.

28 Kierra { 08.14.11 at 2:45 am }

I do not blame anybody for my blogging ignorance; I do not blame anybody for inefficiency of not writing a great blog, I do not blame anybody for not providing me with good insights. But I blame you for giving me the opportunity for becoming a good and fair blogger. Thank you.

29 Latest Technology News { 08.18.11 at 5:42 am }

Useful information post. Thanks for sharing this post.

30 Kerala Realtor { 08.18.11 at 8:04 am }

As a non native , I write better. But the grammer is killing

31 Kerala Realtor { 08.18.11 at 8:05 am }

As a non native , I write better. You will find the grammatical mistakes as killing

32 delilah { 08.26.11 at 7:44 am }

Great blog post. Great writing materiel to post.

33 Cage { 08.30.11 at 9:55 am }

HAHA, you are crazy. I read the UK comment about colour vs. color and I was wondering how you felt about Americans and the word “aluminum” when my English friend says it’s actually “aluminium” (I like how I read this comment 100 times to make sure I didn’t break any of your rules)

34 poshta { 10.01.11 at 10:15 am }

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35 Welpenerziehung { 10.04.11 at 7:50 am }

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I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your future updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantastic lucidity in your writing.

36 Leaflet Distribution { 10.04.11 at 12:13 pm }

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