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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Teacher Tuesday: Quick Language Pricklies

This is the last Teacher Tuesday of November, and it's a gorgeous, sunny 62 degrees here in NEO! I want to spend a little more time outside, storing up some natural Vitamin D before Nature looks at her calendar and corrects her mistake.

Here are a few Language Burrs that sneaked under my saddle this week and caused me some discomfort.

1. On Accident. I read this online, but I've heard it said time and time again; e.g. "Travis locked himself out on accident." The correct phrase is "by accident." The mixup most likely occurs because of the converse phrase "on purpose."

2. A Real Trooper. I'm pretty certain that this is going to go the way of many, many olde fashionde sayings and because of its constant misspelling lapse into tolerated and grudgingly accepted usage. The proper spelling is "trouper" after the word "troupe," which is a group of performers. Just as the old saying attests, "The show must go on;" a trouper, therefore, is a performer who keeps going on despite problems and hardships.

3. Lightening/Lightning. This drives me absolutely crazy. If you are making something paler or blonder or weigh less, then you are lightEning it. That is a three-syllable word. If you are referring to bolts of electricity in the sky (which one of my junior regs once told me Benjamin Franklin invented), then you are writing about lightning. That is a two-syllable word.

Going outside now! This warm weather is bliss.

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20 comments:

  1. I don't think I knew the trooper/trouper difference. Thank you for educating us!

    Enjoy your lovely weather. It was mid-70s here for Thanksgiving, which was a bit disconcerting. It's a bit more seasonable now, 63 degrees. Much better.

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    1. J@jj--It's my pleasure.

      I was able to pick all fresh herbs Thanksgiving week for my meal! While it concerns me because of Climate Change, it was such a joyful and gratitude-inspiring act. The only herb which did not survive up to this month was chives, which froze into a mess from very low temperatures and snow a couple of weeks ago.

      November here in NEO, thanks to Lake Erie and Canada, is very changeable. Warm days are not unusual, but yesterday's 65 was. Today is forecast to be perhaps 50; that is more like a Warm Day of November in NEO.

      Enjoy YOUR lovely weather with your handsome dog.

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  2. I didn't know the trooper/trouper thing either but then I never use that phrase. I like to think I would have looked it up if I did plan to write it.

    I wish you'd do a Teacher Tuesday about the use of : and ;---I'm not even sure what they're called, even though I use a lot of them.

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    1. Jean--I don't use the phrase too often, but I have used it, and do so correctly. It's when I come across it in INCORRECT usage that it blips my linguistic radar. And then there is Hell to pay. ;-)

      November is almost over, and I'm not too sure I'll be doing any more Teacher Tuesdays. We'll see!
      To facilitate your learning, the : is called a colon, and the ; is called a semicolon. There are lots of great sites on the interwebs that can help you quickly, and several good handbooks, too.

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  3. Oh, you have just saved a tiny bit of my sanity! Ever since I repatriated, I have noticed people everywhere saying "on accident" and it drives me NUTS!!! I wondered why it was always "by accident" when I grew up and at what point it changed. I thought I must have remembered it wrong. You know, you live out of the country for 24 years, and your English kind of deteriorates. HA! I was RIGHT! So thank you for that! I'm with you on lightning, too. Annoying. As for "trouper"... I am ashamed to say, I used to spell that one wrong. I think I probably did this because I instinctively associated it with "military troops"... and hence thought it was used to describe someone who "soldiers on" in spite of adversity. So there you are. I got vindicated and educated all in one post.

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    1. Dearest Ortizzle--I could save heaps more of your Sanity if only you did not live so very, very far away in Texas (aka, the Big Ohio On The Gulf). After all, I've always been RIGHT HERE. ;-)

      "Trooper" is a natural mistake and, as I mentioned, is so often spelled like military troops for the exact reason you mentioned that pretty soon it will be the accepted usage. "Trouper" will be like "whom"--a Language Snobbery Object that only the Elitists will use and Lord Over the rest of the hoi polloi, who don't care anyway and will be too busy watching NASCAR and spraying cheese onto crackers for company.

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    2. Oh Nance, thank you for the last sentence. When I was an English teacher, I was always surprised that many of my students didn't seem to understand that language had to reflect reality. They seemed to think that someone much smarter than they had coined a phrase, and they just threw it in to a sentence because it sounded good, not asking themselves "but what does that mean?" It saddens me that they miss the rich history of a phrase like "toe the line"--such a vivid image of men asked to stand up to a line, and they know what that means in their own lives.
      I so wish that study of language meant a broader understanding of the depth and breadth of human experience reflected in our speech, rather than the relentless focus on correctness. I think I know that your concern about such matters is connected to you wanting "real" correctness, the sort of attention that helps us see, or try to see, what writing actually means. (And yes, I've had a few glasses of wine, which frees me up a bit to write about important things.) Also, I didn't know the "trouper" connection, and I'm enjoying thinking about the differences in the use of the two words--I prefer the dramatic one, but the contrast between the two words is interesting.

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    3. Kate--Bless your heart; you're welcome. We are in sync with our feelings for The Language, thanks to both our affinity for it in the first place and our Service In The Trenches in the second.

      And now...was the wine a red or a white? ;-)

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    4. Well Nance, I feel like a bit of a light-weight here, to say it was a Sauv Blanc. The thing is, I can't afford really good wine (which I have tasted in my past life), and I may occasionally drink more than one glass, so it seems less disrespectful to drink a short-life white than to glug a real red (although I still can't afford a good red). If I could, I would drink a good Sancerre, but that's not in my range, and I do know how a noble red can please the palate and the soul (Yeah, I've had a few glasses of a nice Italian Pinot Grigio tonight). Wait, I just noticed I talked about my wine consumption in the comment I posted earlier...what can I say, we do what we can to remain civilized and a tiny bit hopeful. Best regards, Kate (That sounds sober and dignified, doesn't it?)

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    5. Kate--I love Sauvignon Blanc! I don't drink a lot of big bucks wine, either. Remember, retired public school teacher here. And since I am often drinking wine with food (avoiding migraine and enjoying the experience of pairings), I choose wines based upon how they complement an entree.

      Cheers!

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  4. I'm surprised to realise I've never heard of (or possibly just assumed I was dealing with spelling anomalies) the trouper/trooper difference, and - after a down-the-rabbit-hole-style Google session that involved some references to the OED, I'm going to have to spend some time thinking about it before I decide whether or not it's going to bother me in future. But thank you for pointing it out - I love nuggets like that. Sunlight here in the West of England becoming very much an elusive commodity these days, with full darkness setting in by about 4.30....enjoy your sun while you have it! x

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    1. MsCaroline--Don't spend ANY time thinking about it! Goodness. That's the surest way to have it rankle you in future. I read a lot of blogs and doodads online as I Rabbit-Hole here and there in various capacities myself, and these sorts of things seem to pop up at me on purpose. They don't show themselves in spoken English (like toe/tow the line, for example), but when they barge into view, they cause me considerable pain.

      Today is to be only partly sunny and a high of 50. Still a gift in Almost-December! I know you are making the most of your daytimes in Merrie Olde. xo

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  5. The first one is new to me, but YES OH MY GOD YES on the other two!

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    1. Bridget--Love that enthusiasm.

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  6. Thanks for these cautions. I know I've never done the first one, but the other two I know I've used incorrectly. I like words, but I don't always say things quite right.

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    1. Ally Bean--You're welcome. I love words, too. "On accident" is most often, I've noticed, used by younger people (30s and under). Wonder why.

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  7. The Trouper/trooper one is interesting to me. I always assumed (like others) the "oo" version for military troops. So, a new lesson for me - thanks! Love the horse picture too.

    The one I've come across just about daily in e-mails is when someone replies to me "your welcome." Drives me nuts!! and then, of course, you have those (my boss for one) who will only write thx in an e-mail rather than thanks. That drives me batty too.

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    1. Vera--Sigh. Apostrophes: the bane of our existence. Who knew that they'd prove to be such a horrible invention?

      I dislike "thx" because firstly, it seems flippant and insincere for a thank you; secondly, it implies that the person is far too busy to thank you properly; and finally, for me personally, the finger gymnastics required to sneak that "x" in there quickly and without looking (and without hitting the "c" instead) are awkward.

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  8. It is sad to see so much falling out of the language. 'Your' is a lost cause I think.

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    1. Mary G--Oh, I hate to think anything is a Lost Cause, especially something so basic. I won't give up that fight.

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Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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