Recently, a publisher informed me that something I wrote was unacceptable, as it involved ‘old learnings’.
I was gobsmacked. Not because I thought he was wrong so much as I didn’t think that anyone with anything to do with (decent) writing would stoop to using such a word as ‘learnings’.
I had heard a politician use the word not so long ago and was mildly appalled; it is turning into a word that (to me) almost rivals the expression, ‘going forward’, that seems to have infiltrated so many announcements - and simply popped on to the end of every second sentence – and, indeed, now heard in general conversation.
I am now wondering if I am being too sensitive about words.
Am I Madame Pedantic?
I admit to keeping a 2B pencil by my side when I am reading and (gently) put a line through any typos I see.
Being a fan of Twitter, I occasionally see a misspelt word or a wrongly used phrase and shudder.
I tell myself that there are far more important things to worry about than small grammatical hiccups.
Recently a journalist was criticised for making fun of someone who made spelling errors. She was more than criticised; she was attacked! She was told to stop being a literary snob and was reminded, in no uncertain terms, that those who don’t have an advanced education are entitled to express their thoughts, without being laughed at, when their spelling does not measure up to someone who ‘thinks she’s smart’ – or words to that effect.
I felt sorry for the journo as well as whoever made the mistakes.
I don’t know why misspelled words and grammatical faux pas annoy me so much.
I honestly can’t help it!
Perhaps it was the old fashioned and strict teaching (NOT learnings) I experienced in my early school days. Perhaps it has expanded because of my 30+ years of being a schoolteacher. But it is imbedded in my DNA now, I fear. (There’s another frequently misused expression – as if your DNA sequencing can influence your ability to spell! Or can it?)
Here are a few annoyance-producing expressions and spelling faults:
Twice lately I have read about someone ‘towing the line’ instead of ‘toeing’ the line.
The use of I, where it should be me…. ‘It was a lovely gift for Jim and I’…NO, it’s ’Jim and me’ (take away Jim’s name & see how it sounds!) ‘Jim and I were thankful’ Yes, that’s okay!
Fewer/less… ‘Less people came to the park’ No, it wasn’t bits and pieces of people coming to the park…. It’s ‘fewer people came…’
And why have we stopped using the word ‘who’ when referring to people?
Who/that. People deserve ‘who’. It is not ‘I like people that give generously’ NO, it’s ‘I like people WHO give generously’.
Minor, though it may be, the phrase ‘thin end of the wedge’ was the original statement and is preferable to ‘thin edge of the wedge’ – even though the latter possibly sounds better.
A person wrote of politicians ‘full of dribble’ and I’m sure they meant ‘drivel’, but, then again, perhaps there was some dribble involved.
Then someone referred to the latest ‘poles’, when I think they were talking about ‘polls’…but I can’t be sure.
A recent spate of shouldn’t OF instead of shouldn’t have makes me grate my teeth. Only today, a tweet lamented if only someone could of done the right thing…aarrgghh!!!
The use of ‘impacted’ in place of ‘affected’ is so commonplace now, I can almost ignore it.
A frequent mistake is the confusion of your/you’re. That drives me crazy!
Then there’s Its/it’s – Please, people, there is NO possessive apostrophe in its.
It’s should only display an apostrophe when it is a contraction of ‘it is’.
I could go on……
Please don’t attack me. I can’t help it!
Just as I was writing this, I was made aware that our Prime Minister has praised ‘his’ people for being ‘overcomers’.
The word made my flesh creep – not only because it sounded like a made-up word, but it is a word connected to a weird and dangerous religious cult of which our PM seems extremely fond – connected, in fact. Now that really scares me!
Words do matter!
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.