Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bad words.

Here at Vitamin Fred, when we say we dislike bad words, we don't mean naughty words. Well, yes, we mean them too, since their overuse generally means the writer is too lazy to think of something new to say. 


But mainly, to us, bad words means words used in a bad fashion. One was brought to my attention recently by a fellow word nerd, the use of minute for a long time. This is something the kiddies seem to be doing. The example in Urban Dictionary is "Yo, I haven't seen you in a minute!" Which shows us that the people who make up our modern slang are complete drooling morons.

Also, that Urban Dictionary is the enemy of civilization.

Even those who are not straining themselves to be hip make mistakes in the language. Here are some bad words I find perfectly intelligent people using, and I merely ask you to be aware of these going forward.

if worst comes to worst; also if worse comes to worst
The expression is worse comes to worse, according to Webster's. It may seem to make less sense that way, but that's the way it is. I pointed that out to an editor whose book I was copyediting; turned out the author thought it looked better wrong. Okay, fine. As a copy editor, my job is not to make the writer feel as if he is stupid; it is to make him look as if he is intelligent.

at your beckon call
It's beck and call. Beckon call seems to make sense---beckon meaning to call. But beck is an archaic version of beckon, and that's when the expression originated (c. 14th century). Beckon call would be redundant. "At your call call."

scarf down
I may have to yield on this one; the expression is scoff down, but people have mistakenly said scarf down for  more than fifty years, which earned it a space in the dictionary. Which shows that consistency can help overcome stupidity. But it's still considered a mistake.

all intensive purposes
Should be all intents and purposes. The other way doesn't even make sense to me, but maybe others see something in it.

could care less
The classic. Of course, everyone in my family who said this actually meant that they couldn't care less; the context certainly didn't make it sound like there was room for some caring.

diffuse 
This is frustrating because it is very close to the word that is usually meant: defuse. I see diffuse used as a verb to mean to reduce danger, but it should be defuse, as in removing the fuse from an explosive. Diffuse as a verb means to spread out---which spreading out can often defuse a problem.

underway, everyday
These are actually fine in their place, which is not usually where they are found. Underway is an adjective, to describe something done while under way (adverb), like: People Express had an underway payment system where you could pay on the plane. But Let's get under way, already! requires the two-word adverb. Similarly, everyday is an adjective meaning normal, typical: everyday people. But every day means each day. Everyday people get on my nerves means that normal dull people annoy you; Every day people get on my nerves means that each day you are annoyed by people.

Finally, I'd like to point out that I am not a grammar Nazi. Nazis had a reputation for discipline and exactitude, but that's not what being a Nazi is about. Being a Nazi meant overthrowing standards and morals and inserting your own by force of will. It would mean burning the dictionary and starting one you like better, not obeying the dictionary as a rational standard. So no, I am not a grammar Nazi. I am a grammar Marine, baby. 
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