Best not try to get a word in sideways
- July 15, 2013
- Comments 23
A writer in these pages recently used disinterested when he meant uninterested. A sports journo used bunker down when should have used hunker down. Another local, arguably less criminally but no less offensively, used cheater when cheat is the preferred noun, at least in this country. Another writer defended his use of butt naked on the grounds that it was now in common usage in Australia.
These are professional Australian writers. Their use of these words does not reflect the evolution of our language. Rather, it’s an infection. Our language is picking up viruses which our current crop of antibodies seem incapable of detecting or correcting. Buck naked picked up a particularly insidious virus which was left unchecked and now appears to live safely in the bloodstream of our language. It’s probably too late to save buck naked. Shame, it had a mysterious sophistication the very plain and unimaginative butt naked lacks. Cheat and hunker down may also be in intensive care, but perhaps some other words and expressions can be saved. Here’s a start …
The proof is not in the pudding. The proof is of the pudding. And the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you don’t know what that means, look it up.
If you think that is the end of it, you do not have another thing coming – you have another think coming. You had one think. You are about to have another one.
If Malcolm and I are going to the polling booth and you come along, you will be going with Malcolm and me. That’s because if Malcolm wasn’t coming, you’d still be going with me, not I. Nor would you be going with myself. Me is a perfectly good word. When you would normally say me, adding another person to the mix does not change this.
If you die on the gallows, you are hanged. Not hung.
One doesn’t chomp at the bit, one champs at the bit.
If you don’t have as much of one thing, you have less of it. If that something can be defined numerically, such as eggs, you have fewer of them. Obligated may be a word, but obliged is a better one.
This is just a start. Please, do what you can to help. Kevin, forget climate change. This is more important.