Monday, March 26, 2012

Mixing metaphors

I used to think that it was those of us who have English as a second language who mixed metaphors. Not so, I've discovered.

Within the last week, I heard/saw two prime examples. A woman in an interview on NPR said, "...struggling by the skin of my teeth...". Now, I'm not positive that this lady isn't ESL (though I was pretty certain by the context of the interview), but I thought that she may be under duress and therefore not paying attention to her metaphors.

The next one came from a letter someone wrote to my father-in-law. It said, "I'm behind the eight ball in replying...". Ummm, yeah.

Those examples really merely make me go, "huh?" But my favorite mixed metaphor comes from another ESL person - someone hubby attended grad school with. It's getting one's "sh*t in a row". Much funnier than getting "ducks together".
Have you ever mixed metaphors? What is your favorite or least favorite?

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." – Alexander Woolcott

Monday, March 19, 2012

These are a few of my favorite words

You know what my favorite word for a few decades now is? Peripatetic.

I don't why. I'm a solid homebody so there's no reason why that should be my favorite word. Maybe it's the way it rolls around on my tongue like a lovely chocolate truffle that appeals to me and not so much the meaning?

Speaking of chocolate truffles, check out this Mayan Chocolate Truffles recipe that someone shared with me on Sherrie's blog. Mmmm!

Do you have a favorite word...or a favorite truffle recipe? :)

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." – Alexander Woolcott

Monday, March 12, 2012

Prevaricating about the bush? Use "use" instead of "utilize"

trying to sound like Einstein?

Michelle's comment in my last post brought up an excellent point: there's no need to use big words when a simpler one would do unless there's a compelling reason to do so.

(An example of a compelling reason would be if you had to watch your word count for a submission and needed to sub in a single work for two or more words. E.g. I'd substitute "suffice" for "would do" in the previous paragraph.)

I've noticed that people often say "utilize" when "use" is not only the nicer and tighter word, but actually the correct word as well. Below are three good, short articles to explain when to use either "utilize" or "use."

How to Use "Use" versus "Utilize" Correctly
Mother Tongue Annoyances (I love that title!)
Grammar Girl (it's the middle part of the article on the page)

And now that you know, go forth and make things right! What's your pet peeve in misused words?

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." – Alexander Woolcott

Monday, March 5, 2012

National Grammar Day

So yesterday, March 4, was National Grammar Day.  Not nearly as tasty as National Doughnut Day, but with only a fraction of the calories, it's a much more healthful day for you.

I think my sci-fi critique group is under some strange impression that I'm a grammar guru. Not so. As someone with ESL (English as a Second Language), I make my fair share of gaffes, though apparently not the same gaffes as native speakers do.

But, like many people, I do have my language botch-up pet peeves. One of them is the mispronunciation of words. The famous one, of course, is people saying /new-ku-ler/ instead of /new-kleer/ for "nuclear", but the one that bothers me equally - because I watch WAY too much House Hunters on HGTV - is /reel-la-ter/ instead of /reel-ter/ for "realtor". (Do those slash marks make me look like a linguistics major? Well, I was.)

Come on, people! Do you see the "a" after the "l"? No? Then don't pronounce an "a" after the "l". Simple.

What's your favorite language/grammar pet peeve? Is that an oxymoronic phrase, favorite pet peeve?

Today's post was brought to you by the question mark...helping inquiring minds go one annoying step further.

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." – Alexander Woolcott