Airing My Gripes About Arrantly-Erring On-Air Language
I admit it. I’m about as linguistically conservative as I am politically progressive. And that’s, in a word, Quite. A dictionary of descriptive bent has never even faintly bent a bookshelf of mine. Unabridged descriptive dictionaries, on the other hand, have threatened to swayback a shelf or two.
I’m particularly jolted by a sting of anguish and sent to muttering invectives when I witness linguistic transgressions issuing from the larynxes of far too manyfolks who speak the mother tongue for a living. Yes, I’m referring to the purveyors of information via broadcast media. Sometimes the peccadillo is a breach of a rule I learned in elementary school, but is currently on life support. Other times it’s a existing rule that’s being stretched, tortured or slaughtered.
You know what’s coming , don’t you? Of course you do. So without further doo-doo, I present–in no discernible order– the ineluctable List:
. The As/Like Confusion: My Von Humboldt-school teacher, Miss Prendergast, was adamantly precise about when to use “as” and when to use “like.’ The times my ears have been scalded by “like I said“, rather than “as I said”, are painfully countless.
. Usurping the Single With the Singularly Plural : The most blazing example of a plural disgracefully supplanting a singular–“criteria”, rather than “criterion“–comes in bulk quantities. A close second? “Data” as a singular. True story: Years ago, during a ad agency/client presentation, I cringed as I suffered through my media director (!) referring to television, radio and print as “mediums.” Seance to follow, I wondered?
. Interspersing the Unlikeable “Like”: Must we continue to so abundantly endure the word “like” irrationally flecking (and staining) pronouncements heard on the air? For the past forty years or so, few under forty seem unable to make any firm declaration.
. Overly Overturned Meanings: In more prosperous times for our idiom, following were words that had not yet been disfigured.
At one time, the word “perusal” meant glancing through, as distinguished from scrutinize. Today, you can take your pick. It seems to have morphed into meanings that blatantly oppose each other.
In the past, the word “disinterested” meant impartial as opposed to not interested. Today , the brazen clash has descended into puzzling acceptability. The definitions have seemingly been left to joust with each other for clarity.
Semantically speaking, the meaning of the word “oxymoron” shades toward intentionally contradictory figurative speech, such as, for instance, “loud silence.” It’s now been diluted to also refer to unintentional contradiction, such as the commonly noted “military intelligence” which should be simply defined as–you guessed it–contradiction.
Miss Prendergast was clear about the More/ Other distinction at the tail of verbal lists. Mournfully, her directive has been virtually demolished. Her now-ignored dictum: When listing multiple nouns with parallel identity, the word “others‘ must be used. Such as: “Performing tonight will be Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Mandy Patinkin, Tony Bennett and others.…. not and more! Sadly, in contemporary argot “and more” is used unfailingly and –according to my late English mentor–improperly. “And more‘ should be used only in disjointed lists, such as “featured at tonight festivities will be Beyonce, Lady Gaga, a delicious buffet, games, prizes and more“.
Somehow the word couple lost its way and moldered into also meaning fewor several. Since then, millions have become confused, disappointed and and vexed when “couple of hours” turned into half a day. Think about this. Have a strolling spousal pair every been described by onlookers as anything but a “married couple? No, not even if they were known bigamists,
The above category of oral atrocities leads seamlessly into a close cousin: Cognitive Dissonance. Hammered at us by those incessantly dull, cloyingly ubiquitous, unimaginably unimaginative Fisher Investment commercials is a cavalcade of actual Fisher counselors caviling against “cookie-cutter portfolios”. Trouble is, every Fisher script they parrot is, yes, identical; in other words, cookie cutter. Sump’n smells fishy at Fisher, eh?
That’s it. I’m done. I’m in need of some fresh, like, air.
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