The mangling of our language

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?

Friday Reflection is your chance to write on any topic that stirs you. Simply send your contribution to [email protected] and put Friday Reflection in the subject field. The editor will select one offering to run each week and the writer will receive a $20 gift voucher.

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Related articles:
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/technology/phones/in-memory-of-intelligible-language
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/health/covid19/friday-reflection-why-kids-do-it-better
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/travel/destinations/putting-isolation-in-perspective

Written by Richard Burrell

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