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Is that *really* what you meant ?

I encountered this gem somewhere on the web the other day:

I don't think I am creating a president here.

Good, because if you're sufficiently ignorant to write something like that, I suspect that you shouldn't be allowed anywhere near politics, for the good of everyone whose lives you might affect.

I also encountered (elsewhere), a reference to metaphorically  'developing solid fountains to build on.".
I guess the writer has never actually considered whether this phrase makes any sense whatsover.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
5th Jan, 2008 23:02 (UTC)
Ah, but you had baited breath in your last post. I assumed you'd been eating fish. ;-) Those two could be mis-hearings and indeed ignorant, or they could be the result of a spellchecker accident after a typo. I sent an e-mail last year mentioning a Neligan House and didn't realise the spellchecker preferred Belgian House till I got the reply. [headdesk]

One that bothers me is "You've got another thing (instead of think) coming". What sort of thing? And at least two people on my flist loose things when they mean 'lose' I don't know how to tell them politely.
6th Jan, 2008 02:57 (UTC)
Undoubtedly mis-hearing comes into it, but there has to be a level of ignorance too. If you're familiar with the word 'precedent', then the mistake wouldn't occur.

And it's quite possible to hear 'foundation' as 'fountain' but but building on fountains really doesn't make sense. Though as you point out, sometimes rogue spellcheckers can create havoc.

I get irritated by the use of 'loose' instead of 'lose'. I just grit my teeth and concentrate on the writer's good points.

I guess you get equally annoyed by that monotonous song by Coldplay - 'Chasing Cars'. He endlessly sings "If I just lay here," and I yell at the radio "What are you laying: eggs or bricks ?". Actually I tend to turn the radio off when it comes on. It's grammatically maddening and as bloody tedious as all their other miserable songs.
6th Jan, 2008 03:03 (UTC)
Oh, and my dictionary gives 'bait' as an alternative spelling of bate. Though as the phrase derives from 'abated breath', your version is better. I shall remember it in the future. (I hope).
6th Jan, 2008 03:11 (UTC)
It does? I always regarded 'baited' as wrong because of the derivation.
6th Jan, 2008 06:54 (UTC)
I've actually even seen it written as 'bated breath (with the apostrophe representing the missing a) by someone who's fairly picky about such things..
6th Jan, 2008 06:57 (UTC)
Wow. That's pedantic!
6th Jan, 2008 03:10 (UTC)
Well, they could have typed 'presedent' and just hit 'change' without looking when it came up for correction like I did with 'Belgium'. Either that or these people use nonsense expressions without ever questioning them, and that's depressing. What's their writing like otherwise?

Ha, yes. I'm more bothered by the monotony; I hate that which means I can't stand a local singer who repeats one phrase (music and lyrical) over and over. I also loathe that whiny yodelling sound some female singers use, so much so I used to leave the room at one nightmare job I had where they played commercial radio all day long and hit songs came up every hour or so.
6th Jan, 2008 15:53 (UTC)
I have to say that as a dyslexic I had to think for several seconds to see what the problem was, as to me the spelling seemed to spell the intended word.

Fountain is more of a confusing one however and may just be down to plain ignorance.

'Loose' instead of 'lose' does do my head in though!
6th Jan, 2008 09:20 (UTC)
"Another thing coming" is quite possibly an eggcorn. Since I discovered the existence of these linguistic curiosities I've been keeping an interested eye out for them; the best one I have so far discovered in the wild was a comment on one of my favourite webcomics from a regular reader. It began, "When I see the tale, tale signs of a werewolf..."

When I'd finished blinking, I hurried off and reported it to Professor Arnold Zwicky of Language Log. It's a great deal more fun than collecting rare butterflies, and much more environmentally responsible. :-)
6th Jan, 2008 09:48 (UTC)
Oh, I think it's definitely an eggcorn. I'm surprised it's not on that site because I've seen it several times. The latest sighting was in the last few days.

I've seen quite a few eggcorns reported on linguaphiles too. :-)
6th Jan, 2008 10:03 (UTC)
Oh, of course - silly me! I can offer only the remnants of a head cold as an excuse for my absent-mindedness. I had forgotten that you were in linguaphiles.

Are you familiar with Language Log as well? It has an LJ feed, and I find it's well worth keeping up with, even though the rather self-conscious anti-prescriptivism irritates me at times. (Yes, the language changes. Yes, it is the job of linguists to catalogue and analyse those changes, not to dictate how the language should be used. Nonetheless, that doesn't mean that nobody is allowed to dictate how the language should be used, especially not when it's in a formal context. Even if you're a descriptive linguist, you probably don't walk into an interview and exclaim "Yo!")

I also understand from san_valentine that we met at Star One a few years ago. Suppose we add each other... then perhaps I'll stop forgetting the stupidly obvious... *grin*
6th Jan, 2008 10:09 (UTC)
It's amazing how many friends of friends I've encountered on linguaphiles! Since you were at Star One, you won't mind all my B7 posts so it's a deal!

And I now know what your ID means. I've just read the second Thursday Next book and loved it as much as the first.
6th Jan, 2008 10:14 (UTC)
Yay! :-)

I actually read the second one first, and am quite glad I did - it got me hooked instantly, whereas the first one seemed to take a little while to warm up.
6th Jan, 2008 18:30 (UTC)
Yet someone told me the second one wasn't as good. They were wrong.
6th Jan, 2008 18:37 (UTC)
And I see you like Molesworth. I did some in B7-style and just wrote a PGP in the style and plot of Swallows and Amazons. Now you have some idea of my fannish eccentricity. :-P
8th Jan, 2008 03:53 (UTC)
I used to think that people used exasperate when they meant exacerbate. And I still think many do.

But it appears that the definition of the latter was in fact an archaic meaning for the former. Perhaps at some point the two words branched to each convey a different meaning for the original word?


Hmmmm......It appears that the former uses the latin root 'asper' (rough) while the latter uses 'acer' (sharp) to get the same meaning.

What's the usage in the UK?
8th Jan, 2008 10:04 (UTC)
In the UK, I've never heard anything other than "exasperate" = "drive to distraction, seriously annoy" and "exacerbate" = "make worse". The first word is a lot more common than the second.
6th Jan, 2008 18:19 (UTC)
Just wanted to double-check with you, did I give you back "Lost in a good book"?

If not, I shall hunt it down, it'll be in the living room somewhere...
6th Jan, 2008 22:07 (UTC)
I don't have it, so you must have. You can swap it for 'the Well of Lost Plots'.
7th Jan, 2008 00:13 (UTC)
Damn! Sorry, I thought I'd given it back to you.

It won't have gone far...
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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