Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Question to Ponder...

I've seen mentioned a number places now that a top 10 of irritating expressions has been compiled by researchers at Oxford University. Here's the list:

1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

In addition to this, there was an extensive discussion on the DorothyL list serve about the use of "all right" and "alright". The discussion on this topic was so extensive that after awhile I was asking out loud, "have we not beaten this one to death, yet?" And even more "Is it something that's actually important enough to beat to death?"

So, here's my question to ponder. I believe that the English language...or at least American English...is a living, breathing entity. It grows and changes, parts die, new parts are born. The people who use it dictate that life.

The word "alright" is in my dictionary and its definition is listed as "all right." So, it seems to me that alright has been absorbed into our language as a synonym for all right.

I guess what I'm asking is if these phrases are used "incorrectly" so often, are they actually "incorrect" anymore or have they simply taken on a new meaning? Do we understand the message that is trying to be communicated? If something is being misused and it creates confusion, that's an entirely different situation. But if we're just being obstinate about "rules," we're going to be left behind.

Language has always morphed. That's its nature. If you look at where words and phrases started and their progression throughout their lifetimes, it's fascinating.

I say, "let 'em live!"

5 comments:

Corey Wilde November 9, 2008 at 9:49 AM  

Language morphs, I believe, as the popular culture changes in order to more accurately reflect the culture. Mostly those irritating expressions serve a purpose but I confess that #8 bothers me. It gets under my skin when 'of' is used in place of the verb 'have.'

Jen November 9, 2008 at 10:02 AM  

Yes, I do agree on that one, Corey. That one doesn't really fit with the rest of the list because it's grammar more than usage. Until "of" morphs into a verb, that is an error in the true sense of the word.

Debbie November 10, 2008 at 1:30 PM  

You should read Bill Bryson's "English, the Mother tongue". I think there is a chaper on "morphing".
I loved the book.

Debbie November 10, 2008 at 1:42 PM  

Also....does spellng "morph?". I use thru for through and tho for though, all the time in e-mails and letters. I'm sure it annoys some people.

Jen November 10, 2008 at 6:16 PM  

You know, I think the technological, e-mailing/IMing/texting age is forcing some change in spelling. I wouldn't recommend tho and thru in formal writing yet, though! :) I definitely will have to check that book out Debbie. Sounds like its one that I'd find fascinating. Language is an amazing thing!

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