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Thursday, June 9, 2011

"I've been used and abused" - signed, the English language


As a graduate of a mildly pretentious university and a purveyor of the Washington bourgeoisie, my ear is hypersensitive to aberrations in people's use of the English language.

Most of us are familiar with common mistakes like using the wrong their/they're/there or subject/verb disputes. However, there are some other errors that go unchecked. Until now....

1. Misuse of the word "Humbled." A few years ago, for my friend's birthday, I got her an ostentatious display of balloons, a $75 gift card to her favorite store, and made her a pan of her favorite cupcakes. I was quite pleased with myself. Until after the birthday dinner, her boyfriend walked us all out to the parking garage, where he had parked her brand new Miata. I felt "humbled."

Not. "Wow! Six Grammys!? I mean, I expected at least two, but not siiiix! I'm humbled!"
Not. "I am both surprised and deeply humbled." [Obama on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.]

dictionary.com:
--> humbled: having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc; low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.

2. Misuse of the phrase "in lieu." The way to properly use this word is, "In lieu of the tin of butter that this Paula Deen recipe calls for, I used light, unsalted margarine."

Not. "In lieu of your great report card, I'd like to increase your weekly allowance! Congratulations."

dictionary.com
--> in lieu: instead; as substitute

3. Misuse of the word "Stay." As a child I grew up believing that this word was to be used in the following manner: "I hope Lisa and Zack stay together!" I think the first time I heard it used incorrectly was as a college student in the cafeteria. A freshman remarked, "I heard all the stuck up girls stay in the Annex (a dorm)." I remember thinking, "Does he mean the stuck up girls hang out over there? What does he mean by stay?"

Apparently some think "stay" can be used in lieu of "live." (See what I did there!?) But nah, kid.

webster.com
--->stay: to stop going forward, to spend time in a condition.

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The Elusive S!
The letter "s" is one that has troubled urban communities for centuries.

People toss it in when it's not needed:
1. I'm going to Marvin's.
2. Happy New Year's!
3. Let's go Orlando Magics!
4. In the Battle of the Real HU, I support the Bisons.
5. That last hot biscuit with gravy is mines! (Nah, they're his.)

But then...people leave out the "s" when it is needed:
1. I'll be at Sasha house for Game Night.
2. You going to Jay get together?
3. Who run the world? (Girls) - Beyonce 

What's up with that?!
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Ay yi yi. Well, now that you know what's up, don't be a perpetrator of aggravated assault against the English language. Any other commonly misused words that aren't commonly pointed out? The floor is yours.