March 14, 2005

Communication Errors

Lack of interest in spelling and clear language is a pet peeve of mine. I understand it's impossible to be 100% spot-on and of course everybody has typographical errors - but actually not caring about a word's spelling is aggravating for me. It's especially humorous when a person will spell a word two different ways interchangeably, as though he doesn't even notice the contradiction. I'm not putting myself up as a master of communication or spelling, either; almost everybody still has some stuff to learn on the subject.

I've got a few general language and spelling rules to make for all to read and OBEY:

DEFINITELY - It's not spelled 'definately' as so many people think. Think of 'definition' and 'definitive.'

INDEFINITELY - This word does NOT mean 'forever' or 'for an extended period.' It is the adverb form of 'indefinite' - meaning a non-specified amount of time.

ALOT - It's two words, not one.

EMINENT versus IMMINENT - Eminent signifies fame or prestige, as in "Your Eminence." Imminent refers to an impending, soon-to-occur event.

EMIGRATE versus IMMIGRATE - Emigrants are exiting but immigrants are coming in.

AFFECT versus EFFECT - 'Affect' with the emphasis on the first syllable means to imitate, often falsely (Mike affected concern). 'Affect' with the emphasis on the second syllable means to influence (that affected Mike). 'Effect' normally means the result of a cause (Mike's intended effect). 'Effect' can also be a verb meaning to bring about (Mike effected our concern). For must usage, the verb (to influence) is 'affect,' while the noun (a result) is 'effect.'

Plurals and years often have misplaced apostrophes. An apostrophe signifies either ownership (Mike's stamp) or omitted letters (that's the stamp). In writing years, it is incorrect to say 1930's or 1990's because nothing has been omitted. In plurals, it is wrong to include an apostrophe, although many of the lazier Netizens are doing so. "Thats Mikes collection of stamp's from the 1940's," is flat-out wrong. "That's Mike's collection of stamps from the 1940s," is correct. It's appropriate to use an apostrophe in a year if you are excluding the century, leaving you with the '50s, but it's sometimes considered acceptable to leave out the apostrophe here as well.

MIDNIGHT - Displayed digitally, midnight is 12:00 AM - meaning it's the next day. Unfortunately, a lot of people use it as though midnight is the last gasp of the day. To illustrate: 'midnight Friday' comes twelve hours BEFORE 'noon Friday,' not twelve hours after it.

AMBIVALENT - Often used to mean unclear or vague, ambivalent actually means of two minds or split between two divergent opinions.

LESS versus FEWER - 'Less' refers to the amount of something, while 'fewer' refers to the number. When something is measured in bulk, like water, then the word 'less' (or 'much' or 'amount') is appropriate. When something is counted individually, like bottles of water, then the word 'fewer' (or 'many' or 'number') is appropriate. You would not normally refer to "less bottles" or "fewer water."

MEDIEVAL AGES - 'Medi' means 'middle' and 'eval' means 'ages,' so saying Medieval Ages is redundant (Middle Ages Ages). It's better to say 'Medieval Period.'

IRREGARDLESS - There is no such word as 'irregardless.' Think about it: it means NOT regardless, so does it mean regardful? It's not a word. Use either 'regardless' or irrelevant': the parents of this bastard word.

INFLAMMABLE - The 'in' does not signify negation; the root word for inflammable is 'inflame,' not 'flame.' Therefore it means 'able to be inflamed.'

Forgotten word history is also interesting, if less relevant to our lives. Here's a few tidbits:

CELIBATE - Technically 'celibate' only means unwed, often by a vow. It's become so widely used to mean 'chaste' that it has taken on a new definition. Technically one could be celibate but still have regular, frequent sex.

DECIMATE - Another technicality is decimate, which originally meant to eliminate one in ten. It was a Roman punishment of rebellious legions to kill one in every ten soldiers (hence 'dec,' the root in Latin meaning 'ten'). Nowadays it's used to just mean destroy, but technically it's supposed to mean to eliminate one in every ten.

BUCK NAKED - A lot of people associate the buck with an Indian or a black slave. Originally the buck meant a dandy or a fop, a pretentious man showing off. It twisted into a more racially-charged term that's probably better left alone now.

Thrown in just to piss off East Coasters is pronunciation:

NEVADA - Although the Spanish say something like Ne-VAW-da, the locals say it correctly as Ne-VAH-da.

OREGON - It's not Ore-GAWN, but rather Ore-GUNN. Locals often insist on it.

STRENGTH, LENGTH - It's not 'strenth' or 'lenth.' The G alters the 'en-' sound. I've known tons of Northeasterners that did this; it's incredibly annoying.


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