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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Verbal Tics and Awful Spelling or There is no such word as "alot"

I admit it, small things bother me, such as repetitive, unnecessary words, incorrectly pronounced words, and awful spelling.  I want to just grab the person and shake him!  or her. Actually, when I grew up, the correct way to say this was "and shake him", as it was understood that he/him was understood to include both male and female.  However, back in the--was it the 70's?  80's?  somewhere around there--a bunch of vocal feminists displayed their ignorance by demanding that it was BAD FORM and INSULTING TO WOMEN to use the masculine pronoun.  For a long time we struggled with he/she, him/her, and finally settled on the plural form, "they, their", etcetera.

Obviously, these vocal reformers didn't speak foreign languages, because they'd have realized that several languages throw around masculine, feminine, and neuter terms and no one gets upset about it.

For example, in German, the word for girl is "das Mädchen".  Das is neuter, and no one thinks they are insulting young girls.  In French, the word for table is "la table".  Do they think all tables are female?  Hardly.  It's just grammatically a feminine noun.

Now I can move on to verbal tics.  Like, like, like, like, like!   Arrgh!  "Like, I was walking down the street, and, like, I saw this dog, and he was, like, barking at nothing!"  I admit it, I have interrupted someone mid-sentence to tell them I have no idea what they're saying, and do they really like things that much?  Was it "like you were walking down the street" or were you actually doing it?

And then they'll end with " D'yknow what I'm saying?  And, like, d'y'know what I'm saying?"   "NO,"m I reply, "I'm completely ignorant.  I have no idea what you're saying.  Perhaps I'm deaf, d'y'know what I'm saying?"  This has limited success, because the poor soul usually doesn't understand that I'm being ironic until we've gone through it about three times or possibly four.  At that point, shock registers, and they exclaim, "Wow!  I never knew I said that so much!"  Exactly.  Verbal tic.

How about "enthused"?  Do you know there's no such word?  The word is "enthusiastic", but enthused seems to have found a niche in Americana.  I guess I'll have to live with that one.  Sigh.

Ah, yes, now we get to the latest spelling gaff that drives me right up a wall.  I refer to "alot".  Folks, there is no such word as "alot".  It's two words.  a lot, and could you have enough love for the language to at least know what you're saying?  "A lot" is "a quantity" or "a large amount".  I love the way one The Urban Dictionary definition put it:  1. Illiterate spelling of a lot.  2. Broken keyboard way of spelling a lot.  There are several more that are hilarious; do take time to check them out.

Another pet peeve:  nuclear, pronounced NEW CLEE AR  not NEW QUE LER.  I had a college professor who was, of all things, a nuclear physicist, and yet even he couldn't pronounce it correctly.  I could only sit there and shake my head, wondering how such a brilliant man (for he was) couldn't pronounce the field in which he had earned a Ph.D.

There are more:  mischievous (three syllables, please, not four, and accent on the first syllable); zoology is "ZO ology" not "ZOO ology" as I learned early on from a college roommate who was majoring is Zoology, and drummed it into our heads; realtor has one a, and it's before the t. (reel tor or real tor, not reel a tor, please); and finally (for now) exquisite, which has the emphasis on the FIRST syllable, not the second. 

Speaking of poor pronunciations, I think Maeve Maddox says it as well as any in her column

Rant over.  I feel better already.


  1. I saw the link to your blog on the TotallyNaturalGoats list and had to come visit. I really got a chuckle out of this post! I have the same pet peeves and have thought that same thing about foreign languages and the types of nouns. I have to confess though, that I often find myself typing "alot"! Fortunately my spell checker won't let me get away with it. :)

  2. Isn't it great that we have these wonderful spelling tools? I often wonder why more people don't use them.


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