Friday Reflection: Weeping for the mangling of our language

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A couple of weeks ago, a Friday Reflections contributor complained about the modern use of words, particularly relating to ‘texting’.

I also weep for the mangling of our language.

Where the heck do the hacks get ‘carjacked’? We know what happens when a plane is hijacked. It is taken over at gunpoint, a terrible thing. The event is reported by saying that the plane was hijacked. It is not planejacked!

So, when the same thing happens to a car, what’s wrong with saying that the car was hijacked?

Now, because the writer has said ‘carjacked’ they have to avoid saying the ‘car was carjacked’ so they quote the make the Lexus, or the Mercedes or the Maserati. I notice we never read of a Corolla being hijacked. There! See? Hijacked reads okay, and it makes sense.

Hijacked is a perfectly good word. It means to seize by force a vehicle, especially a passenger-carrying vehicle. (Oh, like a car, you mean?) So, let’s use it, and not twist another word with it through the wringer. (Is that like a bell?)

By the same sort of mangling, we could read that while the plane was diverted because of bad weather, cars and trucks finding floods on the way were ‘carverted’ and ‘truckverted’. (Yep, that sounds okay.) Oh, dear! Go on, you can make up your own.

As well as the mangle, writers can also bring a tear to my eye by the use of the malaprop.

Why do we read and hear that the patient was ‘released’ from hospital? Released? Why released? They were not locked up. They had been cared for while they were sick, and when they recovered, the hospital was no longer charged with the responsibility for their wellbeing. So, the patients were discharged. It is prisoners who are released. Yep, patients are discharged.

Here’s another: perhaps because writers of today have only seen a horse in a book or, more likely, Google images, we get the expression ‘… from go to woe’. Oh dear again. It is woe all right.

To give you a smile, I can quote from an old street directory of mine. (Remember them?) It shows the Duffys Forest Bridal Trail. Yes, it’s true! And I can picture the beautiful white-clad maidens floating along the bush track, giggling, and holding up their hems and flowers.

You don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Oh, whoa is me! I’ll stop now.

Do you have other examples of the destruction of the English language?

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Written by Richard Burrell

36 Comments

Total Comments: 36
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    I want to scream when I hear people say yous, see yous. Doesn’t anyone know that the word you is the same in singular as in plural? I’m sure it is done deliberately although why, escapes me. Maybe it’s a desire to get rid of the ‘king’s English’ or simply get ride of the a Monarchy.
    My other pet hate is hearing an interview with someone who punctuates every few words with ‘you know’ or ‘um’. The same goes in the same context when someone constantly throws up their hands or their arms. Even the French and the Italians who customarily gesticulate when they speak, do it in a more subtle way.
    Are we going back to the age of the Neanderthals who just grunted to communicate?

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      Since you mention the French, I hope you realise they have a separate words for the plural and single “you”. Polite English is missing that word. Southern Americans say “y’all”. We NEED a word for the plural you. Snobs object to “yous”. Shame.

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      “You” works well in both singular and plural use I think. Have any tripped up? Perhaps but I have never noticed.

      “tu” and “vous” are a long way from an exact alternative providing singular and plural use in French. About all that can be said is they see some use that way. If speaking to a family group or a group of good friends, perhaps a class of young children and some others you may likely say ‘tu’. Variations on use appear quite subtle.

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      UM really annoys me after every phrase or sentence, the filler noise while thinking of what to say next….way to stop it? close mouth after sentence; its very hard to say UM with mouth closed, then open mouth when ready to speak again.

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    Well, you know, it’s like, um, er, yes no – she FELL pregnant. So it’s an UPCOMING event. (Just a few of my pet hates.) There are plenty more of course and all YOUS readers, like Flippit probably SEEN other crass examples of how our language is being slowly, but surely ruined or eroded. THEM people what DONE all this MUST OF thought how they can be understood MORE BETTER by VUNERABLE folk who wouldn’t even know about the letter aitch if they fell over it.

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    Y do peeps get sew upset ova bad speeling and misuse of werds. Beets me.

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    Dangling participles are my particular peccadillo, sometimes I wonder why some journalists are not sent back to kindergarten to redo their education.
    Examples:
    ‘The car hit a tree on its way to Albury’. Question, why was the tree going to Albury?
    ‘Sitting on a park bench, the Sun went behind a cloud’. Question, did the bench get singed when the Sun sat on it?

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    And what about “the people that went to the beach” – no it should be “the people WHO went to the beach” – “who” for people, “that” for inanimate objects ie the plane that crashed.
    o many misused words these days, I cringe every time I read or hear it….
    Also the misuse of “I” instead of “me” – “Peter and I went to the airport in a taxi”, is correct, but not “The taxi took Peter and I to the airport” – it should be “The taxi took Peter and me to the airport” because if you drop Peter from the sentence it would be “The taxi took ME to the airport” not “the taxi took I to the airport”….
    I wonder sometimes where these weird grammatical errors come from …. any ideas?

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    At this point in time as I am between a rock and a hard place and I need to take this window of opportunity to express my thoughts. OR at the moment I am stuck and need help

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    I hate ‘gotten’ popping up everywhere. We’re not american (yet).

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    I deplore the increasing use of “outside of”, when “outside” on it’s own is perfectly adequate.

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    Note to Winston –
    I am an unashamed snob, considering that I totally object to the use of ‘yous’.
    When confronted with that abominable word, my mother always stated that she was not a female sheep.
    Then again, maybe we are sheep these days, happily following the fracturing of the language into fresh paddocks.

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    “irregardless”. I don’t care if the Merriam-Webster AMERICAN Dictionary accepts this double negative as a valid word, it’s as horrible as using “learnings” instead of “lessons”, and that other increasingly common abomination – “me and…”! Then there’s…. *shudder*… “Youse”….

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