Tuesday 29 September 2015

No, they don't...

In case I have cast you in to a den of confusion, the title is meant to follow on from the last post (no pun intended). "The more things change..." and you had to supply:"The more they stay the same). Well, they do not.  My current green ink frenzy is stirred up by the use of an adverb when there is no connecting verb. You will know at once what I mean: 'importantly', as in 'more importantly, the English language has no need of this mistake'. By all means: ' the English language is ( the verb) importantly accent-free', clumsy as my over-stretched example may be. Do you follow a calendar? It no doubt shows you fixed events/chores. Some of us still have a diary: a note of daily obligations not a map of months, weeks and days, full moon and High Holy days included. For those of you who follow an itinerary it seems no transport is required. We can just distort the root of the word.

Recently, I fell foul of an audiologist to whom I had complained that my hearing aids made my voice sound to me as if it was coming from outside. "Oh," quoth she, "you mean there is an echo". No, I don't. I mean my voice sounds as if it is coming from outside, not that it is sounding twice in my ears: echoing, you could say. However, it seems that in the world of audiology, an echo doesn't mean an echo, it means your voice sounds to you as if it is coming from outside. After my exasperated "you are not listening to me", you could say our relationship fell apart, or, more important, I was sent off with hearing aids that didn't work as they had been paid to do. In a restaurant it has been my misfortune to hear "can I get a whatever?" I am sure the orderer is not offering to stand up and precure a bread roll for her/himself. She/he means she/ he would like the person whose job it is, to bring one to the table, subsequently - more important - to be paid for. 'Not spicy' now means 'will hurt my tongue'. 'Spicy' means red chilli and acute intestinal discomfort. 'I'll catch you later' ceases to mean 'if you fall down'. It means ' I will communicate with you later.' There is currently an advertisement for a firm of solicitors - yes, officers of the court - which suggests that if something has been mis-sold to"you and I" this firm will sue on your behalf, (or, maybe, prosecute). Would you trust your court experience to a firm that is not sufficiently educated even to instruct its advertising agency in nominative and accusative? No doubt they are thrilled by the attention the mistake has arouised. Any publicity is good publicity. However, I would be very surprised if this publicity did more than cause a few derisory chuckles, and, more important, no new clients. There will a mass of you out there wondering why on earth it should matter. Language evolves. So it may, but, more important, it also represents clarity and boundaries, form and harmony in our entire way of being in the world. Do you enjoy the wrong notes played in a piece of music? Do they strike your eardrum with shock and horror? That is how a  mistake in the spoken phrase may effect some of us. But how important is that? I ask myself. I ask you.  Nos da

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about lie and lay? Am I the only one out there to cringe at the mix-up?