The floodgate is open! The topic this week is Pet Peeve Phrases, and boy, do I have a boatload!
Since English was not the first language of my mother and many of her neighbors,( who came from all over Europe), their teachers were sticklers for perfect pronunciation of English, and the idea rubbed off on their students. My mother and her six sisters became executive secretaries; no one could ever tell that they spoke only Italian at home. So they were sticklers with the subsequent generations. When I moved here I would send to my mother installments of what I called “The Kentucky Multi-Dialect Dictionary.” It would make her laugh until she cried.
I won’t even try to go into what I consider ‘mispronunciations’, after all, the people here think that I talk funny. I will hit on phrases that I have heard everywhere that I have lived and in the media. I will mention a couple of regional specific terms and phrases, though.
No one in Southeast Idaho says, “You’re welcome”; it’s “You bet!” No matter what you are thanking them for, holding a door open for you, giving you a gift, pulling you from a burning building, it’ll be “You bet!”
I had two neighbors in Colorado who were old friends. One lived upstairs with a big cat, one lived downstairs with several.The cats went in and out, as there was a bit of land around the converted farm building we lived in. I said that I never saw one of the cats that they both told me existed. Her owner described the unseen one as ‘scary’, so I figured, she was a weird cat. When I finally started seeing the cat, she ran from me. I told the other neighbor, who also said the cat was ‘scary’. I said, “But she seems so shy.” “That’s what I mean,” She said. “She gets scared easily.” Uh, huh. I started to dispute that, but decided it would be a lost cause.
When I went to a family wedding recently, a relative described the groom’s mother as “a panic”. I said, “She panics???” No, I was assured that she was an outgoing person who was fun. When I commented that the officiating priest was funny, the same relative also described him as “a panic.” I can’t see that one catching on.
I think the one that had driven me the craziest most of my life has been the misstatement:
“I COULD care less”. “Well”, I usually tell the speaker,” “then you do care, since you could actually care less.” This should be properly phrased as: ”I could NOT care less.” It’s the only way it makes sense.
“Me and him was…” [shudder!] How can the speakers stand themselves? I’ve gone around and around with children who start a sentence that way. I’ve interrupted and interjected, “He and I were…” Most of the time, they catch right on, but sometimes a hapless kid will restart with: “Me and him was…” . I did this six times with one kid and finally had to stop her to explain what was happening.
Jeff brought up on of the worst offenders,( as far as I am concerned ),yesterday: People have driven me nuts with “I don’t got no IDEAL.”
I don’t have any idea why they think this is correct.
Why the word ‘fun’ being used as an adjective? “This is so fun!”, is no fun to hear.
“Where are you AT?” Save yourself the trouble of adding ‘at’, please, and save the language as well.
We also have an epidemic of people adding to words, taking them farther and farther away from their root words. ”Orientate” has become so common that it is actually acceptable. [shudder again] .‘To orient’ is a perfectly good phrase; why not use it? I had an extended family-in-law member tell me that her son had not been ‘Confirmated’, [Confirmed]. The neighbor told me that she had her dog ‘spayeded.’ I keep hearing horrid examples, such as ’specificate’. ROOT WORDS, People! Back-pedal.
Does anyone TAKE anything anywhere anymore? Everyone seems to “BRING” things. “Take” implies ‘away’; “bring” is a motion toward or with you. Now, I understand that at times, either can be used. If we’re going somewhere I can tell you to “bring someone along”, and we can “take him along”, since we are going to “take him with us.” (We’ll bring him back, too.) I haven’t heard anyone say they were taking anything anywhere lately. They say, ”I’m going to bring flowers to her at the hospital.” No, no you aren’t; you’re going to take flowers to her. If she has been discharged, then you can bring them back here, or take them to her house. “If it doesn’t fit, sir, you can BRING it back for an exchange”, which is all well and good. But if you take it home and it is too big, you will take it back to the store to get the right size; you aren’t going to ‘bring’ it back to the store from your house, unless you decide that it fits after they make an alteration. You can then bring it home,(if you live with me), or take it home,(if you live elsewhere.) Bring=to/with; Take=away/from. “BRING the box to me, or TAKE it to the garage”. It’s easy, really.
One British phrase that has only recently integrated itself into American speech is that someone or something has “turned up missing”. For crying out loud, make up your minds! Did he/she/it turn up, or are they missing? (“I met a man who wasn’t there.” LOL!)
I could go on and on but will leave you with an appropriate phrase. I heard this first from a friend from Baton Rogue many years ago but I’ve heard it a few times quite recently:
“I don’t want to talk your arm off.”
They can talk my ear off, they can twist my arm. Both can be done figuratively and the arm-thing can be done literally, but for Heaven’s sake, why would an arm fall off,( or feel like it would), no matter how long they talk to you? Why not a leg? With that phrase, they haven’t a leg to stand on.
Do any more pet peeve phrases occur to you?