The English Pedant

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Is the English-speaking world getting worse at English? Or is it just that social media and the internet have given everyone the chance to display their grammatical ineptitude?

Dictionaries such as the Oxford Online proudly tell us that they don’t see themselves as rule-makers – they merely record what is actually said and written. Which means that if enough people keep making the same errors, the errors become accepted.

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How very politically correct of them. Let’s apply the same principle to arithmetic: if you and your friends think two plus two equals three, well, who are we to argue? Text books will henceforth show that two plus two traditionally makes four, but can also now make three, seven or whatever.

Now here’s your wage packet. The standard 36 hours at £10 an hour makes (in my book) £25, so that’s what I’m paying you. Well I’m sorry you feel like that, but I’m entitled to my opinion.

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Apologies for all the multi-syllable words, by the way. That’s what comes from being a posh, educated git.

Here are some linguistic deviants that particularly get on my tits.

  1. Plurals don’t need an apostrophe before the s. See? Plurals. Not plural’s. The apostrophe s business denotes either that a letter is missing (it’s means it is, for instance) or possession. So if the ball belongs to David it is David’s ball and so on.
  2. Definitely does not have an a in it. It is definitely not definately. Definitely.
  3. Predominantly (meaning mostly) is not predominately. It’s like the word dominant. Barcelona are one of the dominant sides in European football. The ‘ant’ one the end indicates that this is still going on. Okay?
  4. Convince is not interchangeable with persuade.You persuade somebody to do something but you don’t convince them to do it. You convince them that it is the right thing to do or convince them of the wisdom of doing it..
  5. It’s should have, would have, could have, not should of etc.no doubt the confusion originated with the fact that the end sounds of the contractions should’ve, would’ve and could’ve sound like ‘of’ when we don’t stress the o. A cup of tea, for instance. This is not a 21st century disease. It has been a plague for decades.
  6. Formerly known as, not formally known as. Formerly means in the past; formally means in a formal, official or legal way. The artist formerly known as Prince is formally known by his proper name, Prince Rogers Nelson.
  7. It’s my old stamping ground, not stomping ground. It just is.
  8. Skank is not a dirty word. It’s a dance style associated with ska music. Possible origin of the mistake: someone noticed that skanky sounds like manky, which means horrible, unhygienic or dirty. And of course it’s not a million miles away from wank. But skanky just means ‘like skank’, if it means anything at all.
  9. Leverage is a noun, not a verb, denoting the action of a lever, used to exert force.You don’t leverage something, but you can lever it open or up. And anyway, in British English it’s pronounced leever. So it would be leeverage if it was a verb, but it’s not. So there.
  10. Momentarily means for a moment, briefly. In the USA some people use it to mean in a moment, i.e very soon, and the English radio presenter Steve Wright, once married to an American, introduced it, perhaps jokingly.
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