Have you ever heard someone say, "For all intensive purposes?"
How about "Nip it in the butt" or "A mute point" or "Take it for granite?"
There are plenty of egregiously misquoted expressions in writing, but I'm specifically referring to spoken words here, the kinds of things you hear people say out loud and that cause you to cringe at their ignorance.
I'm not being a language snob here. There's a correct way to say all of those phrases, and if you're misquoting them onstage, your audience will cringe as well.
I understand the reason these expressions are misquoted is that the person saying them has never seen them written out. "Dog-eat-dog" world sounds like "Doggy dog world" (although it makes no sense in context) if you've never seen it in writing.
These kooky sayings have been passed on through word of mouth and, more recently, through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other editor-free Wild West frontiers of the Web.
How do you remedy this? How do you ensure that your grammar, pronunciation, and expression of the English language don't end up causing you embarrassment? (Nonnative English speakers: I don't expect this from you. Only from people who have been born and raised in the United States and should know better.)
I don't care what you read. Read cookbooks. Read novels. Read magazines. Read newspapers.
|Click photo to expand. Thanks for this pic, rocket ship!|
Preferably read something in print, published by a legitimate publisher who pays copy editors to make sure the English language is not butchered.
When you read, you will see these words and expressions spelled out instead of guessing at what the words might be when you hear them.
Okay, I am a language snob. I admit it. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong, or that if enough people say "doggy dog world" it's miraculously going to become correct.
Do you want your audience to find you credible, knowledgeable and authoritative? Then you better make sure your spoken grammar, pronunciation and understanding of the English language are up to par.
Are there some misquoted sayings that drive you crazy? Feel free to share in the comments!