Be Impeccable: Commonly Misused Phrases That Will Make You Sound Ignorant

Seato

Jedi Master
I remember when I went to high school there was a lot of excessive use of the word "like" among the students. I seemed to gain this habit and after a year or so my parents complained that I seemed unable to make a sentence without including the word "like" in it.
I no longer use "like" so often, but recently I ran into someone who seemed to endlessly use the word "like" and I couldn't help but find it rather funny.
 

Cassandane

Padawan Learner
These are always good for a (private) laugh, but there's often a sort of logic behind them. For instance, most of the ones involving 'and' instead of 'in' are likely the result of language being passed on verbally. Elocution lessons are as scarce as hen's teeth in America, probably because no one cares about RP (Received Pronunciation - the Queen's English), so people don't enunciate well. This can lead to the assumption that a guttural 'n' means 'and'.

In the case of 'beckon call', the word 'beck' is pretty rare and few people realize it is the name for that crooked-finger gesture a person makes when they beckon someone to come closer.

I, myself, am guilty of the 'coming down the pipe' error. The logic behind that is that I had never heard the expression before coming to America, and since I arrived, I have mostly lived west of the Rockies, where there are few (if any) 'turnpikes'. When I first heard the expression, I pictured a long, thrusting weapon, and thought I must have misheard. It seemed more likely that something would be coming down a pipe than a pike.

When I was young, I was taught that 'all of a sudden' was already bad English and that there was a word for that: 'suddenly'. It tickles me that 'all of a sudden' now has a variant that is considered incorrect.

Despite my laughter, though, the reason these corrections should be made is painfully obvious when people study Shakespeare and need a language key. Will our descendants be able to understand our writings in 500 years, should humanity last that long?
 

lainey

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I remember that when I first moved to the USA I had no clue how to spell lettuce, I used to work at a restaurant and one of my clients went: “let me have a cheeseburger with no lettuce” in my ear it sounded exactly like the word “letters” I spend a few minutes trying to find it on the computer screen “where does it say letters? And whatever does she mean by a burger with no letters? Do they mark the burger patty?...strange country this is...” :P
This is very funny! My Spanish friend used to say he wanted to eat "chicken tights" for dinner and I had to explain to him why that was so funny. It brought up images of a chicken in tights :lol:. He really meant chicken thighs.

I had a good laugh at the lists here, and learned a little too. It makes sense that people get these phrases wrong seeing as many people only use YouTube, watch movies and play video games, so they only hear a phrase instead of seeing it written. I suppose they just fill in the gaps with the words that they do know. I'm nowhere near perfect, but thank golly I read a lot of books when I was younger so I have at least a small grasp on how to use my native language!
 

cope

Dagobah Resident
links are intact, straight to the cia website. I thought the two last ones are interesting for this tread?
The webmaster of Whatdoesitmean (com/index3371pl.htm) wrote:
Standing between you and these mobs of radical socialist revolutionaries preparing to destroy America, along with their leftist social media giant and mainstream propaganda media allies, is President Donald Trump and the overwhelming majority of the over 854,000 people holding top-secret clearances in the United States Intelligence Community—all of whom start their days reading the most accurate and truthful intelligence reports about what is really happening, as opposed to the fairy tales lies published in the leftist mainstream media—intelligence reports specifically written following guidelines established by the Directorate of Intelligence Style Manual & Writers Guide For Intelligence Publications, as well as guidelines established in the Institute for Intelligence Studies instructional The Analyst’s Style Manual—though one of my personal favorites for intelligence report writing is Richard T. Puderbaugh, who’s been designated Chief Word Watcher, Western Hemisphere Division at the CIA.
 
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Ursus Minor

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
links are intact, straight to the cia website. I thought the two last ones are interesting for this thread?
The webmaster of Whatdoesitmean (com/index3371pl.htm) wrote:
Standing between you and these mobs of radical socialist revolutionaries preparing to destroy America, along with their leftist social media giant and mainstream propaganda media allies, is President Donald Trump and the overwhelming majority of the over 854,000 people holding top-secret clearances in the United States Intelligence Community—all of whom start their days reading the most accurate and truthful intelligence reports about what is really happening, as opposed to the fairy tales lies published in the leftist mainstream media—intelligence reports specifically written following guidelines established by the Directorate of Intelligence Style Manual & Writers Guide For Intelligence Publications, as well as guidelines established in the Institute for Intelligence Studies instructional The Analyst’s Style Manual—though one of my personal favorites for intelligence report writing is Richard T. Puderbaugh, who’s been designated Chief Word Watcher, Western Hemisphere Division at the CIA.

Here is Richard T. Puderbaugh: Elegant Writing - Report #2

"The following three quotations demonstrate what I have come to call the Puderbaugh Principle of Traumatic Terseness. We all know what a great impact one can achieve by making portentous statements in few words. "Lafayette, we are here." "I cannot spare this general. He fights." Now observe how much greater an impact can be achieved when the short statement describes the totally unexpected — not to say unbelievable":

"Doe and his wife had a daughter of four. When he last saw her she was pregnant."
"At that time they were in the first stages of a broken marriage."
"Fulano's wife is in her late twenties and their daughter, Mary, is aged about four. The latter is rather pale and sickly. She doesn't like Graustark very much. She smokes."
"Mengano was one of seven children, and was raised without a father who was killed by a log in a forest."
 
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