Saturday, January 23, 2010

More things I wish people would not say

So, you think I am being OCD about too many adverbs?  (See Seven sayings...)  You don't know the half.  The other day over at Worldmag Blog, some guy was complaining about the use of the noun “Democrat” being used as an adjective when mentioning the political party, as in “Democrat party”.  Several others went back and forth with the guy about how it is not a recent usage, and the Republicans have used it for decades. No, I am not going to defend that usage, as I agree with the guy.  But how many of us misuse adjectives and nouns and never even think about it?  And other misuses of cliches and parts of speech? 

Forthwith are a few more things I wish people would stop saying.  Mostly these are grammatical miscues.
  • “I’m good” as a response “How are you?”  “Good” is an adjective that describes your character.  The question asks how you are feeling at the moment, not what kind of person you are.  The grammatical answer is “I’m well” or “Fine.”
  • “Wall Street to Main Street”  This, along with a few variations, seem to be the latest political mantra.  I guess it is supposed to show the common people that the politician is one of them, and not some Washington bureaucrat or Wall Street fat cat.  Sorry, politicians, but when I hear that line, I want to jump into the TV and scream at you: “Enough with the clichés!”  I personally want Wall Street to do well, as my pension and IRA depend on a strong stock market.  And aren’t we a capitalistic economy?  If Wall Street fails, don’t the rest of us suffer?  Now I realize that the hatred is directed at the company managers who get huge bonuses whether the company does well or not.  Okay, go after the individual offenders, not the whole system! Besides, around here it is the big box stores hurting Main Street, not the stock market.
  • “I could care less.”  So, care less if you are able.  The saying is “I couldn’t (notice the negative) care less,” indicating that the speaker has zero interest in the subject at hand.  To say one could care less, means that person has at least some interest.
  • Using the past tense verb form instead of the past participle and vice-versa.  Here in the Midwest, people are prone to confuse verb forms.  They say, “I seen you at the store.”  Or else “I’ve went to St. Louis often.”  I used to correct it whenever I heard it (as Mrs. L. can testify), but now I repeat it to them correctly in a question: “You saw me at the store? Why didn’t you say ‘Hello’?”  “How often have you gone to St. Louis? Once a month or more?”  Like directly correct them, this approach doesn’t get them speaking the Queens English, but it makes me feel better. One of the worst offenders is someone I work with, i.e. another teacher!  He used to mock President Bush for his mispronunciation, yet he constantly mispronounces common words, like “supposably” in place of supposedly.
I guess that is enough conversational peeves I have.  Any others you care to share with the few, the proud, the brave readers of this blog?


Ken said...

Sorry, Peter, but "I'm good." is not ungrammatical. The verb "to be" requires a predicate nominative. Good is an adjective describing the subject "I" not the verb "am".

If you're referring to the slang usage which really means "I'm doing well, you're on firmer ground, but the problem is with the sentence construction as a whole, not an adjective used in place of an adverb.

TRS said...

I can't stand, "I wish I was...." It is "I wish I were...." Also, similar to one of yours, "You did that so good!" Ugh.

Peter L said...

Ah, Ken. Thank you for responding. I do need to point out something, though. When one asks "How are you?", the unmentioned present participle "doing" is assumed. So, answering "Good" to the question is ungrammatical. In this case, the predicate is modifying an implied verb form.

Hannah said...

I used to work with people who spoke of "unthawing" things. If it even were a word, unthaw would mean "to freeze," not "to thaw."
In defense of the blog's author, many people actually do say, "I'm doing good," when they mean, "I'm doing well." So many people misuse the word, in fact, that it feels awkward to answer correctly. =(