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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Losing My Religion

Losing my religion is an idiom which " an expression from the southern region of the United States, and means losing one's temper or civility, or "flying off the handle" according to Wikipedia and we all know that the Wiki is generally 82.5% mostly accurate.

Just for fun, since we're on the topic of language, the definition of idiom is:

  1. A speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, as in keep tabs on.
  2. The specific grammatical, syntactic, and structural character of a given language.
  3. Regional speech or dialect.
    1. A specialized vocabulary used by a group of people; jargon: legal idiom.
    2. A style or manner of expression peculiar to a given people: "Also important is the uneasiness I've always felt at cutting myself off from my idiom, the American habits of speech and jest and reaction, all of them entirely different from the local variety" (S.J. Perelman).
  4. A style of artistic expression characteristic of a particular individual, school, period, or medium: the idiom of the French impressionists; the punk rock idiom.
But I digress entirely. Why is there a picture of Medusa in a blog entry about language? Well, I'll tell ya. The Wave-inatrix is by nature a mellow gal with a great sense of humor. I love a good old-fashioned flub up in a script. It lightens my mood and reminds me that we can't take this life all that seriously.

But laziness, sloppiness and ineptitude, not just once but all over a script, well, I kind of go nuts. I guess I consider myself one of the last bastions of proper language usage. Don't get me wrong - I'm mad cool, I'm hip to it, I can get down with the latest dope expressions - but improper usage - it's just so whack. The long and short of it is that if you are writing a script - work with me people - perhaps you should make the time and effort to use the language correctly. But maybe it's just me.

Hey, education is an ongoing thing. So in that spirit, here are a few malaprops that just for the record, make my sense of humor puddle around my ankles and snakes writhe from my head. Just FYI.


From Wikipedia:

Hear hear is an expression that originated as hear ye, or hear him, usually repeated. This imperative was used to call attention to a speaker's words, and naturally developed the sense of a broad expression of favour. This is how it is still used today, although one can always vary one's tone to express different sentiments; the Oxford English Dictionary noted around the turn of the century that the phrase is now the regular form of cheering in the House of Commons, and expresses, according to intonation, admiration, acquiescence, indignation, derision, etc.

Don't ask me why but get this straight: blond is for a boy, blonde is for a girl.

You take a breath. But I ask you if you can breathe. You do not take a breathe.

It's shudder. He shuddered when he heard the news. Shutters are something you close against rain.

A person bawls when they cry. Someone might be bawling. Not balling.

It's DUCT tape, people, DUCT – not…oh the inhumanity…duck tape.

The man was supposed to stop at the drug store. NOT the man was suppose to stop at the drug store.

And for once and for all, it's whipped cream, not whip cream. You whip it. So once it is whipped, it is WHIPPED CREAM. Oh god, I'm getting an eye twitch.

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shecanfilmit said...

The only one I didn't know is blond/blonde. I didn't realize there were masculine/feminine endings for that in English. It must be a holdover from French.

Laura Reyna said...

There was a discussion about blond vs blonde at Scott The Reader's, if I remember correctly.

I think they decided that blond could be used for both sexes. But I do what Julie does, blonde for female, blond for male.

I recently used the word shutter, & just now went back to see if it was the right one. It was. Whew!

Also... there is actually a brand of duct tape called Duck tape.

I guess they named it that b/c of the common confusion. I know as a teenager I thought it was "duck" until someone corrected me.

Raven said...

Hear hear! Those are a bunch of my pet language peeves, too. Some would-be writers need to read more, or think about meaning more, or at least pore over more grammar books, or something. :)

millar prescott said...

Well it's a blistery day here in Vancouver and I was feeling kinda down until I came acrossed your post. In this doggy dog world it's hard to stay upbeat but sometimes all you need is a little humor. Thank you, it made me realize, even with the lousy weather, I'd rather be here then anywhere else.

velysai said...

I was reading a friend's script and had to point out that it's "he clenches his fist" not "he clinches his fist". I also asked what it looks like when someone "empathetically searches [a] room".

But my favorite thing was that he was taught by this supposed scriptwriting teacher to do this:

Mike stutters, attempting an apology.

I...I'm sorry.

And this:

Mike gets angry and yells.

I can't believe you did that!

I was like WTF? Redundant much?

Dougj said...

I had an example but I can't remember...

I must be getting old-timers disease.

steverino said...

Like oiling a rubber plant, I supposed you can put moisturizing cream on a whip.

This is what I found on the net.

"There's regular debate in the whip cracking world, about what you should put on your whip (if anything). You will find loads of products that claim to 'nourish' leather; none of them actually saying what that means. Leather is skin. Like our own skin, it is made of dead cells. It cannot heal once damaged, nor does it need nutrition. It deteriorates over time, but by keeping it moisturised and greased, you can prolong it's useful life almost indefinitely."

Further down the page I found.

"Short whips that are only ever used indoors will rarely (if ever) need dressing - the oils from your own skin will help to keep them in condition."

The site is well written and a bit scary.

japhy99 said...

Its hard too say what's my main pet peave. For all intensive purposes I halve patients with mistakes, but there where times it could of killed me.

Of coarse, if we have a nucular war -- which would be unique and different -- none of this will madder.

Mac said...

If we are one of the last bastions of proper language usage - do we insist people use the English language (as accepted in 1804) or as accepted today? Which one is 'proper'?

Plenty of valid words or phrases started out as 'wrong' variants - should we insist that people today use the outdated usage?

* Should we insist that, logically, a cupboard is an open shelf (a 'board' for holding 'cups') and clearly anything with doors is NOT a cupboard?

* Should we insist that people use the word 'toilet' to mean what it did in 1790 (a lady's dressing table) instead of the current usage?

* Should we insist that people use the word 'decimate' with the ancient meaning (reduce by 1/10th) instead of the modern meaning (reduce to 1/10th) ?

* Should we use the word 'incorrect' to mean unstylish (1670s) or to mean 'wrong' (modern) ?

* Should we use the phrase '8 items or less' (modern) or '8 items or fewer' (1950s) ?

The oddest example is what Velysai claimed was wrong usage: "clinching his fist". That's exactly what the word meant in the 1700s (interlocking/clasp) - but people started corrupting the word into 'clench' (like the 'duct' & 'duck' tape corruption) until the misuse takes over ... and people start claiming the original CORRECT word is wrong !

I'm sure there was a Rouge Wave of the 1750s denouncing wrong words like 'clenched fist' instead of the correct 'clinched fist' ... but they ultimately lost.

(PS: Since duck tape isn't actually very good for sealing ducting, perhaps the newer word for it is more accurate than the outdated phrase. It probably does a great job for holding down ducks!)

Julie Gray said...

Thanks for your comment, Mac. You make excellent points. Language is organic and has changed and will continue to change with time and usage. I think the key, when using it in a commercial and artistic endeavor, i.e., when hoping to get published, sold, etc., is to apply current standards. And while things do morph over time (we wouldn't have seen that word a hundred years ago) as William Safire addresses weekly in the NY Times, to my knowledge, bawling has not become balling through common usage, nor has supposed to become suppose to. However, the rise of the word "like" as a subtle descriptor and modifier is a great example of the way language changes. In the past something was like something or it was not. There was a direct correlation, now it has come to be used as an approximation. And more and more it is acceptable and used by like, people one would never suspect of doing so. Like me.