Search This Blog

Friday, February 29, 2008

My Little Contribution to the English Language

As some of you may know, I do a good deal of professional writing and speaking as relates to my job at the radio and as a reviewer. I have noticed a plethora of bad English habits that are becoming more and more common, so here's my meager attempt to stamp them out.

1. An apostrophe shows possession, not plurality. Correct: This is Kevin's diatribe. Incorrect: There are lots of nail's in my toolbox.

2. Nauseous means that you make someone sick. Nauseated means that you yourself are sick.

3. Many people use the reflexive pronoun myself incorrectly. Correct: If you have a question, please contact John, Max or me. Incorrect: If you need help you may contact myself at any time.

4. The phrase 'a lot' consists of two words.

5. Partner, access and impact are nouns, not verbs.

6. ATM is the abbreviation for Automated Teller Machine. To say ATM machine, is redundant. The same applies to PIN, which is the abbreviation for Personal Identification Number. To say PIN number is redundant. There are many more examples, but you get the idea.

7. A question should be punctuated with a question mark.

8. When reading copy on the air, or when announcing web sites in public, please note that this symbol, / , is a FORWARD slash. Not a back slash as it is most commonly identified.

9. Classical musicians do not play "on" their instruments.

10. Your is possessive. You're is the contraction for you are.

11. Its is possessive, it's is the contraction for it is.

12. The common phrase "close proximity" is redundant. To be in proximity means to be close to something.

13. The word important has a t in the middle, not a d. The word hundred ends in the letter d, not t. Ask is a verb meaning to seek information or to inquire. Ax is a tool for chopping wood. February is pronounced Feb-ru- ar-y, not Feb-ewe-ar-y.

14. The word forte has two origins, two meanings and two pronunciations. Forte, meaning a strong point in one's character, is derived from the French, meaning strong. It is a one syllable word pronounced like the word fort in English. The other origin, spelled the same way, is a musical term, is Italian and is pronounced for-tay. It means "loud."

15. Although since 1905 it has become common usage, the word for being fastidious or nit picking is PERNICKETY, not PerSnickety.

16. One who shows empathy is empathic, not empathetic.

17. The word myriad means ten thousand. If you are using it to mean a generic large number, then it does not take a definite article, but rather stands alone. Example: There are myriad good reasons to attend BPI in the summer.

18. It's amusing to hear amateur singers describe themselves as "real high sopranos." Are there any real low ones?

19. Ultimate means "the last." Penultimate means "the next to the last." Neither word means "the best."

20 Epitome means "typical" or possessing most of the traits common to a particular class or group. It does not mean the very best. That would be "apex." Example: The Honda Accord is the epitome of middle class automobiles.

21. Dominant is an adjective. Dominate is a verb. (Those of you who need to get that one will!)

22. Unique means "one of a kind" so there can be no degrees of uniqueness. Being very unique is akin to being a little pregnant.

That's enough for now. This isn't meant to be snarky, rather to help folk who have to speak and write sound as intelligent and well read as they certainly are, and to preserve the language in its correct form.

Happy reading,



Radio Ronnie said...

"Allot", However, is one word.

Kevin Sutton said...

Allot is a legitimate verb. Example: We will allot 25 per cent of our resources for research.

However, to say that we have a lot of resources should be expressed in two words.