Best try to get a word in sideways

Best not try to get a word in sideways

July 15,  2013


<em>Illustration: Simon Letch</em>Illustration: Simon Letch

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.

Tony Podpera

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