The Sunday afternoon I heard a public radio reporter say Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, “self-designed” his fiancée’s wedding ring, I decided language mutilation had hit a new low.
What’s wrong with “designed?” Why self-designed? Is it because he’s so rich and famous we need it impressed on us that his very own self did the designing?
In my last post, I pointed out journalistic cliches. Here are some incorrect usages I hear from both journalists and the general public.
Hopefully. It’s everywhere, so it’s no surprise journalists have latched (lemming-like) onto it. Its misuse is so widespread I predict this misuse soon will become accepted into the language.
“Hopefully he’ll go on to the finals” is wrong. “Hopefully” is an adverb, used to modify a verb. It means to do something with hope. “She glanced at the doctor’s instruments hopefully.”
Cliché used as an adverb: “That’s so cliché.” Ugh—a real fingernail scratch across a blackboard. Cliché is a noun. “The term, ‘That being said,’ has become a cliché” is correct.
Disinterested/uninterested. The first means impartial. The second means indifferent.
Different than. Almost forgot this one. “Different from” is correct.
Begging questions. Reporters: I beg you. Look this one up or quit using it. To beg the question does not mean to prompt or lead to another question. It means “to assume as proved the very thing one is trying to prove.”
“I could care less” means the amount the speaker cares is so great he could actually care less. What the speaker means is, “I couldn’t care less.” That is, “I care so little it would be impossible to care any less.”
Big of a deal. The correct phrase is, “It’s not that big a deal.” The word “of” doesn’t belong in the sentence.
Myriad. Same as above. The word “of” doesn’t belong with it. The correct usage is: “There were myriad swans on the pond.” It’s like “countless.” “There were countless swans on the pond.”
Group/team. These are both singular nouns, so they take a singular verb.
“A group of photographers were present” is incorrect. It should be, “A group of photographers was present.” Same is true of “team.”
Language is Flexible
I know language morphs, contracts, expands. I admit that back when I was a tech writer, it took some time for me to become accustomed to using “access” and “impact” as verbs.
But if you want your writing to shine, google words and phrases to get their meanings and usages right, or at least to know when you’re taking liberties.
If you enjoy taking liberties, this article will give you permission.
Disclaimer: I dislike thinking about grammar and usage. But even more, I hate hearing and seeing incorrect grammar and usage.
Go ahead. Share the misused terms that irritate you.
Fun and well-written post, as always, Lynnette! May I add to your excellent list the so-called word, “irregardless”? Makes my skin crawl. 🙂
Joseph Hesch says
Terrific post, Lynette.
The “could care less” one is a particular killer for me to hear. Equivalent of a fat guy plopping his rump on piano keys. And the piano’s out of tune!
The one-time sports writer type (for a few weeks) and hoops coach I once was cringes at the use of the latest alleged “term of art” in basketball. You can dribble the ball, rebound the ball, pass the ball, and shoot the ball. But when they trotted out “score the ball,” I had to say Enough!! I mean, really, what are you guys doing? Cutting lines into the pebbly orange leather? Sheesh!
Thanks for this great post, Lynette. As well as the venue for me to vent over the clunking up of our language. 🙂
Lynette Benton says
“Could care less” is brutal, Joe! And I fear it will never end. It’s one of those terms I’m convinced will ultimately be accepted in the language.
I adore your simile about the fat guy. Hilarious!
Since I don’t follow basketball, I haven’t had to be annoyed by “score the ball,” and may it ever be so.
For those of you who don’t know who Joe Hesch, check out his beautiful writing at A Thing for Words.