June 2, 2005

So Many

I’m sure I have plenty of idiosyncrasies that drive other people crazy. But since this is my blog, I get to post about my language peeves.

I heard this on the radio the other day:

There’s so many dollars out there.

Ignoring, for a moment, that this person is pairing “is” with the plural “dollars” you can’t really tell what this means outside of its context.

It sounds like the person is saying “There are a lot of dollars out there. There are so many of them.”

In reality, this person means: “There is a limited amount of money to be had.” Also “There are a limited number of dollars.”

I expect this phrase has come into existence (I have heard it on more than one occasion in the Fall River/New Bedford area) because people had been saying “there are only so many…” whatever. And now they’ve dropped the “only” which makes it sound like you mean the exact opposite of what you’re saying.

Another “exact opposite” language peeve I have is when people around here say:

I could care less what you think about the way I speak!

Excuse me? You could care less? So… I guess you care a lot if you could care less but you don’t.

Of course, the person meant to say “I couldn’t care less.” But, for an inexplicable reason, they have rendered their sentence practically meaningless. It’s unintelligible unless you take it as an idiom. But it doesn’t even work as sarcasm, because “I could care less” hardly means “I care a lot.”

Posted by James at June 2, 2005 11:09 AM
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"Irregardless". Aaaaarrgggghhhh.

Posted by: sarah at June 2, 2005 12:33 PM

"orientate". Blech.

Posted by: at June 2, 2005 12:52 PM

Thank you, Sarah! I can't tell you how many people I've told that isn't a word (although technically it now is. I believe Websters and the OED have both added it). If it were a word it would mean "with regard".

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at June 2, 2005 1:05 PM

Dictionaries just report on usage. If something gets used enough, it "becomes."

However, it still sounds horrible.

Posted by: James at June 2, 2005 1:10 PM

"I could care less" is one of my pet peeves, too. I even blogged about it once, along with a rant about people who say "all the sudden." ARGH!

Posted by: Karen at June 2, 2005 1:49 PM

Welcome to SouthCoast. Please enjoy the slow painful death of driving skills, altruism, and the correct use of the English language.

Posted by: The Powers TO BE at June 2, 2005 2:01 PM

Yeah, I hear that. I've also always had an issue with the following dialog:

"do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Yeah, sure"

That should mean. "Yes I do mind" Right? But it doesn't. I mean you should say "no" But then people get confused when you do. That always confused me as a kid.

ax = ask
tell when you mean ask
sos = so (I think that's a Fall River thing)
munch = much

Would someone please make up their mind what a milkshake is called? And who on earth decided it should, at some point, be referred to as a 'cabinet'?

current pet peeves:

'power nap'
hell, any business weasel-speak that passes for common speak. Ich.

and any leet speak.


Posted by: rui at June 2, 2005 2:09 PM

My biggest peeve is probably the phrase "Needless to say" because it's always followed by whatever you just said you didn't need to say.

I like David Cross' routine on the misuse of the word "literally".

Posted by: David Grenier at June 2, 2005 2:26 PM

In the same vein as "needless to say" (which I do say sometimes), I offer "with all due respect," which usually means "I'm about to disrepect you."

Posted by: Julie at June 2, 2005 2:30 PM

I have a couple from the Vetrinary/Medical world.

'Datsun' instead of Dachshund (Docks-hund). This one was introduced to me when I moved here to Southeastern Mass. I can understand not getting the pronunciation because its a german word, but I heard this most often from people I worked with at the animal hospital. I just love to say 'It's a dog not a car!'

And of course 'shot' instead of injection or vaccination. But that is so prevalent I have learned to accept and expect it.

Posted by: Sharon at June 2, 2005 2:45 PM

Actually James language evolves (which is why we aren't all speaking ancient greek). As words and usages become more comon they become accepted, then they become the norm. Unfortunately the internet probably accelerates this process. So fight these things now before they become correct and your usage is considered antiquated!

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at June 2, 2005 2:57 PM

That's funny, about Datsun. I'd never heard that one. I can imagine a conversation (if you were trying to be annoying)

"I've brought my Datsun in to see the vet."

"You mean Nissan. They don't make Datsuns anymore."


As for "shot" I found it funny that, when you check the dictionary here the injection definition is #13, just above the "jigger" definition.

I can;t help but think that 1.5 ounces must be an extremely uncomfortable injection!

Posted by: James at June 2, 2005 2:59 PM

I don't mind the language evolving when it evolves in ways that increase clarity and ease communication.

I do mind when the garden of our language sprouts weeds of ambiguity which decrease efficiency without even adding to the emotional expression.

If I were to invent a new word for something, or a new goofy variant for a shade of meaning, or simply a way of saying the same old thing that better expressed my emotions: that would be unfamiliar at first. But it's a least trying to communicate something.

On the other hand, a lot of these new terms are just laziness. There isn't even any whimsy behind them.

Posted by: James at June 2, 2005 3:22 PM

Julie wrote:

I offer "with all due respect," which usually means "I'm about to disrepect you."

It doesn't necessarily mean that you are about to disrespect the person. It may mean you are indeed giving them all the respect they are due, which is none...

Posted by: Jim at June 2, 2005 4:06 PM

Actually James language evolves...

You can tell Bob lives with me.

Many years ago, I had a linguistics professor tell me not to be a linguistic fascist--I had to accept that language changes, whether or not I believe the usage is correct.

Painful but true.

My pet peeves:

* Supposably instead of supposedly.
--This sets my teeth on edge.

* Infer when imply is meant.
--This has occurred in just the past three months. Someone in a regularly recurring meeting has said this several times. I have whispered imply to him, written imply on a piece of paper, and explained the difference between the two words to the group. Last week, the infestation of incorrectness spread. Another member of the group said infer and he knew he was wrong, because as he said it, he looked at me, and immediately corrected himself.

Imply: to involve or indicate by inference, association, or necessary consequence rather than by direct statement.

Infer: to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises; guess, surmise.

AAHH! Stop the insanity!

Oh, and Mike, if you hate "power nap," you must also have a great dislike of "power yoga," as advertised at a studio on Mass Ave in Porter Sq. near Andy's Diner.

Posted by: PattiM. at June 2, 2005 6:06 PM

I like frozen yogurt. I don't think I'd like power yogurt.

Posted by: James at June 2, 2005 6:46 PM

I remember another one that you only see written.

"Shouldn't of."

Posted by: David Grenier at June 2, 2005 6:55 PM

I'm not the one who hated "power nap". All my naps are powerful.

I once tried a power yoga class on videotape but I couldn't keep up with its frantic pace. It seemed to be missing the point of yoga. And if I wanted to do that many calisthenics per hour I'd start attending church services again.

Posted by: Mike at June 2, 2005 9:34 PM

I once had a CO of a ship in Bahrain tell me he found something "flustrating". I was thinking, "I hope 'flustrate' means to throw over the side into that school of sand sharks, shipmate, because I'm about to flustrate you!"

Only a couple of weeks ago I heard someone talking about a job's "French benefits". Red wine? Good cheese? Snottiness?

I absolutely cannot stomach people saying "apropos" in lieu of "appropriate"...

Oh God...OH GAWD...speaking of Fall River, when I was a young boy I once had someone at school tell me, "Don't touch dat! It's mayans!"


Posted by: Bill at June 2, 2005 10:51 PM

French benefits? I guess that means we will soon be enjoying our "Freedom Benefits."

But "French Benefits"... it sounds like a euphemism for free condoms or something.

Posted by: James at June 2, 2005 11:02 PM

Sorry, Mike, it was Rui who is not amused by "power nap."

I have to agree with you on power yoga missing the point of yoga. How very American it is to speed up something that is supposed to take time, and to give it a name with more testosterone.

[read in the voice of the dude who says "Sunday! At the Centrum!"]: Power yoga!

Posted by: PattiM. at June 3, 2005 7:45 AM

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