This post is the seventh in a series called “500 Words To Save The World.” Each day I will use just 500 words to address a problem that has been bugging you or me. If you want to get in on the conversation, tell me the problem you’d like discussed in the comments section of this post, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may start counting words… now!
There is nothing that makes you look less intelligent than a regular misuse of language. I am a musician of language; English is my instrument. Like music, language is alive, fluid, and evolves over time. However, just like music, language has rules, and if you don’t follow them, you will hurt people’s ears.
In general most people aren’t fools, but when said people say stupid things, what are the rest of us to think? Here are four of the language misdemeanors that make a little vein on my temple throb. If you know someone who needs help (and you do), please share this. I thank you in advance.
The title of this piece should have made you cringe, but to many it looks just fine; it is not.
Lesson One – Speedy Delivery
- Tom has less money than Sharon.
- Tom has fewer dollars Sharon.
So, clearly the title of this piece should be “Make Fewer Mistakes.” The next time a TV or radio ad proclaims that you can have your new furniture delivered in three days or less, it is okay to scream out loud.
Lesson Two – Tax Time
We are seven weeks away from the dreaded April 15th, but the misuse of two tax words is already all around us.
- A Tax Return, is the form you fill out and send to the IRS or state tax authority.
- A Tax Refund is the money you receive when your return shows a negative balance.
Any advertiser or company that suggests you come spend your Tax Return with them deserves fewer of your dollars, not more.
Lesson Three – Geopolitical Skin Care
A routine that involves several steps is called a regimen. So, if you have six skin-care products you apply in a specific order every night, you have a well-defined regimen.
In 1989 when regime change came to Panama, Manuel Noriega saw the end of his regime, giving him more time to spend on his skin-care regimen.
Lesson Four – Damn Groundhog
Three weeks ago, Punxsutawney Phil proclaimed that there would be six more weeks of winter; six more weeks of freezing temperatures, snow, and ice.
When it finally ends mid-March, the snow will begin to melt, however things will not unthaw. Why you ask? Because unthaw is not a word.
The prefix “un,” when slapped on the front of a word, inverts the meaning of the word to which it attached. So, if unthaw were a word (which it is not) it would actually mean something not thawing. We have a word for that, freezing.
We use language every day, so why not use it properly? Weird Al Yankovic agrees, click watch, listen and learn.
Copyright © 2015 – Stephen S. Nazarian – All rights reserved.(Make Less Mistakes)