Schmenglish XI

Here she goes again.

Why do I yammer on about the continued slaughter of our language? Not 100% sure, but I’m thinking it’s for the same reason that people rant about inconsiderate drivers, putting an empty carton of orange juice back in the fridge, not wiping one’s feet, chewing gum like a cow, cutting in line, or having 30 items at the express check-out. In other words, it’s not a life-threatening issue, like the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico or second-hand smoke, but it’s important to me. Everybody got a cause, I guess. This is mine.

This, of course, does not mean I think I’m perfect. I’m also not indicting anyone’s character, although I know I can get a bit snarky or impatient from time to time. I don’t advocate grammar jail, either, honest. Rather, I rail for purposes of enlightenment and the Public Service Announcement regarding this specific subject. The end.

The title of the following list was my second choice, because this is a family show. Therefore:

How to Not Sound Like an Unintelligent Donkey

  1. This is an outdated word, but lots of people still mangle it. They’re called “warmups” in gym class now, but they’re calisthenics. Don’t say “calisthetics” because it’s similar to “athletics.”
  2. The name of the Mexican city of Tijuana contains only three syllables: tee-hwa-nah. The extra “A” sound is, well, just extra. Ti-a-juan-a.
  3. Speaking of the extra “A,” it’s biathlon and triathlon. Just three syllables. Bi-ath-a-lon? No thanks.
  4. “Preform” is definitely a word, but it doesn’t indicate what actors and musicians do. That would be perform.
  5. This one drives me nuts, and I’ve heard it from super-educated people. A “pitcher” is a container from which Kool-Aid or tea is poured, or the person who throws to the batter. A photograph is a PICture, from which comes that annoying, infuriating, fingernails-down-the-chalkboard abbreviation, “pic.”
  6. If his lungs took in too much water and he died in the lake, he drowned. No such word as “drownded.”
  7. Honestly, it’s es-cape, not “excape.” Kind of like the ultra-bizarre “expresso/espresso” issue I recently lived through on Facebook.
  8. If I had a dime every time somebody said “bob wire,” I could retire. As much as we may not like it, it’s barbed wire.
  9. If something is sacred or held in reverence, it’s “hallowed,” right? “Hollow” is something that contains a cavity or large gap. All Hallows Eve is called Hallowe’en — it’s not hollow; it’s hallowed. Savvy?
  10. Don’t be a hickĀ  — avoid saying “vee-HICKLE.”

To those who say, “Relax! It’s just English — don’t get so worked up about it!”, well….refer to the list title. Whatever gets you through the night.

Happy Saturday — I’m off to Stein’s wedding, yay!

10 thoughts on “Schmenglish XI

  1. Mavis

    I could list at least 500 words that just kill me. One of my biggest headaches would be – Valentime’s Day. ARG. Why do people say, “valentime”? It’s ValenTINE, people! *sigh* The other one that just sends me over the edge – vigual. I’ll put it in a sentence. “Last night, thousands held a vigual for the late pop star, Michael Jackson.” There is no such word as vigual. It’s VIGIL. Now I’ve given myself a headache. Keep the Schmenglish reports coming, sweets.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Ack!! Anyone other than a 6-year-old should be taken to task for “valentime.” No excuse for adults to say that. And I’ve never heard “vigual” — I’d imagine I might kill…

      It’s the old “hypercorrection” thing. Putting extra syllables in words in order to sound smarter. Like “nuptual” instead of the correct “nuptial.” Then there’s “irregardless.” I swear, only in English…

  2. RD

    I love your Schmenglish posts! Do I catch any slack because I was born and raised in rural Indiana? Since I turned 16, I’ve driven a vee-HICKLE! If I don’t know how to spell a word, sounding it out doesn’t help — cause Hoosiers have different sounds for the vowels. I sound it out based on the Hoosier I learned from infancy, and that doesn’t help we with correct spelling at all. Keep posting — I need it!

  3. Greg

    I had to keep correcting students that continually said “drawling” instead of drawing. Or what about those people who say “CEE-ment” instead of cement?

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Arg, the “L” thing! I’ve caught my students out on that one as well. Like it’s too much work to put two vowel sounds together, so they have to insert a consonant.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I once worked as a secretary at my local university, and befriended a boy named Mehdi from Iran. He always said “Ih-rahk” and “Ih-rahn.” Both with the flipped “r.” So that’s the way native speakers say it. We could go on all day with redneck pronunciations! How about “Eye-talian?” HA


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