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Morphed, Mangled and Misused!

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Morphed, Mangled and Misused!


Have you realized how embarrassing those unsightly sweat patches are and how humiliating it is to smile with food stuck between your teeth? Worse still, people won’t say it to your face. These are ticklish oversights that we try hard to avoid.The situation is akin to warping words and phrases and thereby showcasing ourlinguistic inadequacies and appearing dumb.

Take heart! It happens to the best of us. We all foul-up, and each time we commit a faux pas we wish we had known the right from the wrong. Unless one isan authoritarian in the language, chances are that we’ve all been there, done that.

A recent blog post where the writer pulled a sneak peak and not a sneak peek made me wince and piqued my interest in bringing together a list of words and phrases that people often misuse. If that whets (and not wets!) your appetite formore linguistic misfires, here you go:

Ask yourselves, “Was it on accident or by accident?” Confused? Get it right, gaffes are always by accident, never on purpose.

We admit it’s easy to misspell words. How many out there are guilty of saying prostrate cancer instead of prostate cancer? You have no idea that the extra r to prostate makes you lie flat on the ground! Prostate, on the other hand, relates to prostate gland.

Some of the best English speakers also get this one wrong- first-come, first-serve, which simply suggests that the one who arrives first serves first. The actual phrase, however, first-come, first-served implies that participants will be served in the order of their arrival.

Popular websites and journals are blameworthy of distorting deep-seated to deep seeded. Technically both may mean the same, but the expression, undeniably, is deep-seated. Now, let’s just admit our ‘deep-seated’ ignorance of correctness.

You extract your pound of flesh, but you exact revenge. However, news websites like the BBC and the New York Times have used the expression extract revenge.

If I have had enough of you, I’m going to give you a piece of my mind. But, if you think you should be giving somebody a ‘peace’ of your mind, you’ve got another think coming. Another ‘think’ coming? Sounds illogical? Well, that’s not alwaystrue of language. So, if you think the expression is another thing coming, you’regreatly mistaken, err…you’ve got another think coming!

Much to the horror of conservative speakers, bated breath is so commonly written as baited breath that the phrase is at the risk of being accepted in itsincorrect form. It’s worth remembering that you may ‘bait’ your fishing line in hopes of a great catch, but you wait with bated breath for that big catch.

A missing a, and wreck havoc has the ability to wreak havoc when the intention is to inflict and not thwart a devastation.If you are to do what is ordered or expected of you, you toe the line. It is erroneous to tow the line.

Like it or not, mangled metaphors merit mirth. There is no sparing. Lest you want a grammar Nazi to home in on you, it’s time you honed in your vocab!


About  the column :  I am no literary scholar, neither a linguist nor a grammarian, but one amongst you, who uses everyday English. It is my love for the language that enables me to observe keenly the trends in modern English. My column WordStock is an attempt to document the visible communication pattern and trends in the English language that we use as a tool to express, connect and correspond. No highbrowed, scholarly stuff but some salient peculiarities and quirks that mark regular expressions. It is all in good humor, about you and me, and the varied ingredients that constitute our language. So, stay on, enjoy the vignettes, and feel free to share your views.

About the Author :  The fragments that make up the world, its people and the impression they leave on her, prompts Ruby to share with you bits and pieces that you may find interesting or informative or both. Her reflections are a mosaic of personal and shared flavors. The content varies, but they're all about people-people like you and me, our footprints and her impressions, our pictures and her albums. She invites you to dip into her flavors, though you have the right to relish or refuse. Should you decide to scratch the surface, agree to disagree with her, but a thumbs up now and then won't hurt!

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