WordWatch

I have inaugurated this section so that people can be more aware of changes in American English as they happen. It amazes me how quickly a certain word, even whole phrases, can seep into the public consciousness as a result of television. Most people don't even know it's happened until it's over. This is not to say that I am against change in a language. Language is definitely a river, you can't step in the same water twice. However, I believe that some changes are made out of laziness and ignorance. Some usages just entertain me, so I want to compare them to what they replaced.

This will work best if it's a collaborative effort. Take a look at my few examples and let me know if you can remember any, especially any from the 1996 elections.

Newspeak

Order of Loyal Wordchucks

Contributions of junior wordchucks have started to trickle in. Here's an unorganized regurgitation. I hope to come up with a viable structure for this page soon. When submitting, please indicate whether you want to be credited and whether you want your name linked to your email address.

Comments and Questions

Meg Cotner asks,

"I want to know why so many people say:
REAL-a-tor, not realtor  (as in those people who sell houses)
and
JEWL-er-y, instead of jewelry

why?"

Meg, I am not in a position to give Cecil Adams a run for his money yet. I, too, question such things. I suppose it happens for the same reason that otherwise intelligent people pronounce "nuclear" as NUKE-yuh-lur instead of as NU-klee-ar.

A respondent who wishes to remain anonymous had this to add as of 10/27/97: "It's dissimilation involving the liquids R and L. This is very common in languages. In Hiberno-English, film is pronounced filum."

In my company (shall remain nameless to avoid embarrassment) the word
work is used as a transitive verb.  We work problems.  Ugh!  Correct
usage is we work on problems.  Better yet, we solve problems.

Use at your pleasure.

Tom Cornell

Tom, we're all different in our pedantry. This particular usage does not bother me as much as some, although it is not strictly grammatical. The verb 'to work' has been used as a transitive verb when referring to crafts. One can "work" leather or "work" clay. Now if you can just make a nice ashtray out of your work problems...

I remembered later that my boss always uses the non-word "irregardless,"
and I like it about as much as you do.  Someday, I may get up the guts to
tell him it is wrong.  Maybe a less courageous way would be to simply print
out your page and just happen to leave it on his desk?  Trouble is he knows
I'm on the Internet, but so is another co-worker.  Maybe I can get away
with it after all.

Good wishes,   Tom Cornell

Maybe there's a place where office humor is posted. You can post it next to the "You want it WHEN??!!" posters and see if he gets the message.

The use of a word is no different than a words usage, is no different
than a words use.

-age suff.
1. Collection; mass.
2. Relationship; connection.
3. Condition; state.
4.a. An action. b. Result of an action.
5. Residence or place of.
6. Charge or fee.

You are most correct in wondering why it is put to the end of words. It
is most likely an attempt by people I refer to as stripped wingnuts
trying to impress others by making a word seem longer, therefore more
sophisticated.

Have you ever noticed (that) the word "that" is over used? Since
learning of this, its use has been cut way down in my communication.
Saving it for a time when it comes into great demand.

Enjoyed your page(s). Am very happy to see the made on Apple banner at
the bottom.

Have a great New Year, at least have fun,

jtk

Thanks for the definition. It's still something I hope to get a better feel for. I sometimes notice the overuse of 'that' but far more often notice filler words like 'like'. I am just as guilty as the next party of using these filler words in my conversation. It gets annoying once one becomes aware of it. One that drove my high school teacher crazy was "The thing is..is that you...". The repetition of 'is' drove her bugnuts.

Hi Spidra ;),
  I distinctly remember first hearing "HAR-ris-ment" instead of 
"har-ASS-ment" on television news in the '70's. Whilst your syllabic 
breakdown is no doubt correct and mine flawed, my breakdown clearly 
indicates why the common pronounciation was unacceptable to 
conservative, gunshy American national broadcast news entities (and 
don't make them pronounce the last non-parenthetic word of this 
sentence, either ;).

))Sonic((
going back to work now
nice pages-i'll have to try 'em later on non-graphical MacWeb...

I think this is an interesting theory, but I do not subscribe to it. If it were true, Americans would never have deviated from the British pronunciation in the first place. It is interesting that you remember hearing it in the '70s. I would hazard that it would have been very isolated cases at that time. It seemed to spread like wildfire after the Thomas Confirmation Hearings, though.

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Pedantry Online

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Last modified on 5/16/00 ; This is one of the oldest pages on my entire site, so please excuse the mess.