Using the wrong word

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Oli, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    11,888
    This came out of I Push Wood's mispronunciation thread.

    I've already mentioned a British tendency to use then for than, which annoys me, but there other, to my mind more insidious, misuses.

    Infer for imply is becoming very common, even to the extent that I've spoken to people that claimed to have never noticed a difference in meaning.

    Incredulous for incredible.

    And discrete for discreet (or vice versa) - this last once happened in a technical specification, I pointed it out just before design started and saved the company quite a bit of money on it.

    Any others?
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2009
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Not distinguishing between 'effective' and 'efficient'.
     
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  5. Jozen-Bo The Wheel Spinning King!!! Registered Senior Member

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    Oli and idiot...I get these two confused all the time!
     
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  7. Meursalt Comatose Registered Senior Member

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    Good thread.

    The only point of contention I have is that I was completely unaware that it was the British who started the "then" for "than" business. I assumed it was an American thing, if only because I'm Australian and have seen far too much American influence upon language to lay blame anywhere else as a natural consequence.

    Aside from that, words change meaning constantly, depending, I think, upon the lowest common denominator of misunderstanding. Many words have changed meaning over the centuries.

    My hypothesis is that the educated will use a word as it was intended to be used; the uneducated will ... bastardise... it.
    Given that the uneducated outnumber the educated by a considerable margin, words will change meaning. Yes?

    *note - I use the word "educated" very loosely here. There are, of course, those who are educated and still misunderstand, and those who are uneducated and understand the meaning of a word implicitly.
    I am generalising.
     
  8. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    effect and affect, then and than
     
  9. Jozen-Bo The Wheel Spinning King!!! Registered Senior Member

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    1,597
    Oli...your confusing me here...???

    Now you are advocating proper use of words when not too long ago you where defending the degenerate slang talk in another thread:

    http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?t=91532&highlight=jozen-bo


    Can you then provide a good example of how to use these vague terms while still making your point.

    Something like...

    (pretending to be Oli---"Man...dude...I'm like...all fed up with the improper usage of words these days...cuz...like...another guy on another thread...he goes...like...then instead of than...and now I'm all pissy-like...so I says like...)...or some other sort of example...please?

    Thanks!
     
  10. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    11,888
    Ah, no I wasn't claiming it was of British origin, so much as speaking only for us Brits - I don't have enough experience of US/ others speakers.

    Or: it's the educated that compile the dictionaries, so we can retain the "official" meaning and carry on being grammar/ spelling/ usage nazis

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    Affect and effect is one I should have listed: that pisses me off no end.

    Interesting:
    Maybe JB and idiot and are what you were thinking of.
    I was defending the "degenerate slang" because it's an in-crowd "lingo" not use of the incorrect word.
    Different issue altogether.

    And additions to the list, which I should have remembered, thanks JB:
    your and you're
    were and where
    Care to expand on "degeneracy" in language any further for us?

    So accurate and funny.
    Not.
     
  11. glaucon tending tangentially Moderator

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    5,502
    Not sure if this one fits here, as I find it hard to categorize, but I have to mention my absolute number one linguistic annoyance. This one might be very contextual as I'm not sure if the acronym involved is used outside of Canada and the US.....

    "P.I.N. Number"

    Arrrrg.

    The Acronym stands for: Personal Identification Number.

    Sooo... : personal identification number number...???

    Even bank staff say this...

    Arrrg
     
  12. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    11,888
    Yep, UK as well.
    And one day officialdom will recognise this and change it to PINN.
    Whereupon people will say PINN number, leading to PINNN....

    It's as bad as SLR rifle that we had on TV a while back: sure - Self Loading Rifle rifle...
     
  13. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    9,232
    There are a large number of people, not a large amount of people. Amount refers to continuous quantities, not discrete quantities. It is, if you like, analogue, not digital. It is becoming so common I have heard it used by BBC news readers. (That marks the true end of the British Empire.)
     
  14. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    11,888
    Um, "there IS a large number of people" or "there ARE large numbers of people".

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    Or am I wrong?
     
  15. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    ...different to...
    ... compared with...
    Aaargh!
     
  16. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    9,232
    You are probably right. I lose all sense of proportion when I see amount misused. I'm still cleaning up the mess from the last incident.
     
  17. tim840 Registered Senior Member

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    1,653
    "on accident" instead of "by accident"
     
  18. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

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    there, their and they're.

    As in: I can't believe their leaving there children they're alone!

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  19. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    Were going to visit the we're, and if we fell in we'd be wetter than if it where to rain and we didn't wear a coat, but weir not bothered.

    Smart-arse

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    Last edited: Apr 4, 2009
  20. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    This is also the process by which language evolves over time. For example, "decimate" used to mean "to take or destroy 1/10th of" and, because people used it differently, now means "to devastate or obliterate" or "to destroy a large proportion of" (That proportion almost always being far larger than 1 in 10.) Now, the 1/10th meaning is largely obsolete, save in specialized contexts (like discussing the Roman army).

    "Expletive" once meant a word used to fill out a phrase or metered verse and now means "an obscene word". The very notion of "curse words" had to expand to incorporate sexual and scatological terms, as tit originally related to blasphemous terms.

    "Alcohol" once meant "the powdered form of a substance" but mutated to mean "the essence" of a given substance and was later applied to the intoxicating element of spirits.

    Etymologies would be awfully dull if people always used words in their dictionary senses. What really matters is whether people are conveying their thoughts in the way they intend, not whether the meanings they are ascribing comport with those in the dictionary.
     
  21. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    11,888
    Language is becoming sophisticated.
    (Check that one out

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    )
     
  22. PsychoTropicPuppy Bittersweet life? Valued Senior Member

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    Affect and effect? I'm not sure. People always confuse me with "But it did effect me!" instead of "But it did affect me!"

    They confuse me so much with that abuse/use of this word that I am starting to doubt my own usage of the word.:bawl:
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2009
  23. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

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    4,955
    "She used her VIN number as her PIN number on the ATM machine machine."
     

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