You would think that there are worse things in life to get wound up about but there is something about ignorant English that really gets my goat!
I don’t consider myself a snob. I am neither rich nor privately educated and like many people, I go about my daily business just doing the best that I can. There are plenty of gaps in my knowledge of the world and sometimes I can find it very difficult to articulate my point. I am however incredibly picky about how people use the English Language, especially if they are a native speaker and there are few things that make my blood boil more, than people using the wrong words in the wrong place.
So here is my rant about the six most annoying language mix ups that I hear on a regular basis which leave me reaching for the stress ball:
Mixing these two verbs up is unforgivable. I cannot understand why people do it and it can’t be laziness because it takes just as much effort to say either word. I have a friend that regularly says “Can you borrow me that book/cd/handbag?”
I don’t know if she does it to annoy me but it hits the nerve every single time. Is it really that difficult to use these words correctly?
No I won’t borrow it you and I am not letting you lend it off me! Enough said!
Why on earth would anybody ask another human to “itch their back”? Well it happens all the time in half-wit land where people have no idea about how ridiculous they sound. The really irritating thing is that even if you point this out to the perpetrator of this error, they make absolutely no effort to correct it and in fact are likely to look at you as if you have just stepped on a baby rabbit. Obviously they mean “will you scratch my back?” and the reason for this is presumably because it is itching. Unbelievable ignorance!
Oh yes, you are sure to recognise this one from the world of sport. Ask someone how their team got on in the football match and the answer may well be “We won them!” This mistake makes me laugh actually because I imagine if you won another team, you would place them on display in your trophy cabinet!
I work with someone who always uses the word pacific when really she means specific. I have to own up here that I have never corrected her. It may sound odd but I am so embarrassed to correct her and it struck me recently that maybe everyone feels the same which may be why she has never corrected it! But I really find it hard to believe that someone could fail to see that they are including the name of one of the world’s great oceans in the middle of a sentence instead of a word that has a very precise meaning.
Now I am willing to understand that this may not be a mix up technically but rather a dialect issue but never the less, it really stresses me out! It also sounds greatly disturbing when you hear somebody say that they will “axe their boyfriend!” Hmmm. I think you will find that is a criminal offence as well as a crime against the English language!
These two words are misplaced more often than you would care to imagine. Yet it is clear that accept is a verb that means to receive or admit so to use it in place of the word except, which means to exclude, will totally alter the meaning of a sentence.
People don’t tend to mix up words like arrive and leave or spit and swallow so why is it that other words just don’t seem to be as easy to deal with? Words that sound the same are easier to misconstrue when a child is language deficient or has hearing problems but for the vast majority there seems to be a blasé acceptance that it doesn’t matter.
Granted there are bigger problems to worry about in the world but I just cannot help getting hot under the collar when people misuse the English language because it seems so ignorant and unintelligent to do so. It is the responsibility of adults to ensure that children’s language difficulties are addressed so that they can confidently articulate their message in society by choosing the right words at the right time.