Ranting at Grammar Ranters, Continued

I think I could write a blog that is just responses to BuzzFeed articles about grammar pet peeves. Though at least a few more of this Adam’s peeves actually present more of a problem in communication.

  • 1 and 2 both seem legit, but the example for two is so nit-picky it borders on insane. Do you listen to people talk? It does not sound like a spoken version of written English.
  • I’m about to say something drastic: if you hate the split infinitive, you hate English. English, to my knowledge, is the only modern language that actually has two word infinitives. We use the “bare” infinitive without to in ways that many other languages use infinitives. Some linguists actually debate whether we should even count to as being part of the infinitive verb form. Continue reading

There is Actually a Science About Language and Grammar Ranters Should Look it Up

Buzzfeed, bane of my Internet browsing, recently had a list of “17 misused and made-up words that make you rage“. The list is just a collection of GIFs and one-liners about what you should be saying. I was amused because it seems like anytime a website is desperate for content, they’ll post some rant about the “decline” of English. (While I may be desperate for content, I can assure you I won’t rant about stupid people ruining our wonderfully pure language) Most of these rants are just prescriptive hissy fits that consider the mistakes in a vacuum. If the average wannabe grammarian on the Internet knew basic linguistics, they might understand where these mistakes comes from instead of threatening to beat a co-worker to death.

So let’s quickly go through these. While most of them are “wrong”, the reason they come up isn’t just stupidity.

1. Irregardless – “ir-” is a variant of the prefix “in-” that English borrowed from Latin (in many cases through French). “in-” typically negates the root it precedes in modern English. But that hasn’t always been true. “in-” has also been used to mean “in or on”. We see this in contemporary confusion over what exactly “inflammable” means, because we tend to misread the “in” as meaning “not” when it actually was used in the sense of setting something on fire.

2. Supposably – Sometimes things “roll off the tongue” so nicely and we get sound changes. That, in fact, defines language change since humans started speaking. Also, the suffix “-able” is productive in English. Supposably might be taking up meanings not currently covered by supposedly. 

3. Flustrated – There are so many reasons this might legitimately come up. Articulation problems with /l/ and /r/ sounds are actually pretty common, and the sounds are really similar so someone in a rush can easily mix them up. Also, the only time I have heard the word “flustrated”, it was clearly meant as a portmanteau (a word made by combining parts of other words) of “flustered” and “frustrated”.

Continue reading