Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pass the advocado

First the discussion of error and correction over at Kate's and now the scary antique exams in grammar and comprehension at Larvatus Prodeo, plus a jaw-dropping mispronunciation I heard last night on the news during a live cross to the Beaconsfield mine, have moved me to get a few miscellaneous snarks along these lines off my chest, thus:

* 'Exacerbate' is neither pronounced nor spelled 'exacerpate'.

* 'Antarctica' and 'ecstatic' both contain two Cs. They are not pronounced 'Ant-AR-tica' and 'uh-STATic'.

* 'Vulnerable' contains two Ls, and is therefore not pronounced 'vunnerable'.

* 'Congratulations' does not have a D in it.

* 'Phenomena' is the plural of 'phenomenon'.

* 'Criteria' is the plural of 'criterion'.

* 'Media' is the plural of 'medium'.

* And finally, since it's footy season once more: 'parochial' does not mean the same thing as 'partisan'. When in doubt, boys, look it up.


31 comments:

Jennifer said...

I hesitate, but...

I think the usage of media has moved on, and it can now be used as singular.

And I think that even more strongly about data - I'm sick and tired of being corrected when I write "the data is". Not correct a century ago, but hey - it's a living language!

Mind you, I totally agree with you on all the others, so I do have standards...

Pavlov's Cat said...

Yes, I just threw that one in to be contentious -- but I do get a bit snaky when people start talking (with reference to things other than papers, radio, TV etc) about 'mediums'.

elsewhere said...

>'Exacerbate' is neither pronounced nor spelled 'exacerpate'.<

Ah yes, but Uncle Stephen told us that 'p' and 'b' are linguistically close, and that 'b' lenites to 'p' in some contexts in Middle Welsh. (On second thoughts, I believe it was 'p' to 'b' and 'b' to 'f').

Daniel said...

But surely, Pavlov's Cat, usually a parochial crowd (provincial) is partisan (one-sided).

While the Neanderthal men in little shorts struggle manfully for possession of a leather ball this season what do you think about?

Blue said...

I have a personal beef with oriented being pronounced orientated

Lucy Tartan said...

today I learned that "Darcy uses Lady Catherine as a porn to understand Elizabeth." Sometimes I love marking essays.

ThirdCat said...

I agree with all you say, PC.

I am, nonetheless, a strong avocate for the widespread use of youse

Pavlov's Cat said...

3C, I too am all in favour of youse.

Laura, Darcy's porn almost made me wish I'd never left academe.

BB -- Dictionary says 'to orient' and 'to orientate' are both legitimate. But I know what you mean.

sceptical -- I didn't say there weren't big overlaps, I just said they weren't synonyms. The real points I was making were (a) footy commentators pick up words they don't understand from other footy commentators and then use them to death, and (b) what we perceive as 'provincial' is relative.

El -- Uncle Stephen was never wrong.

cristy said...

"I am, nonetheless, a strong avocate for the widespread use of youse"

No!

That is the one that bothers me the most. Maybe it is the non-pedant's bugbear?

Pavlov's Cat said...

I suspect 3C was joking, Cristy. I know I was. But I was so filled with admiration for her 'avocate' joke that I was prepared to go along with anything.

Daniel said...

I hate 'youse'. They're so dirty and their thinking is so woolly.

Pavlov's Cat said...

You want woolly thinking, you can't go past a wether. Can't make up their minds to save themselves.

Geoff said...

Is pronunciation and grammar related? "Fuball" (sic) is a great game I just can't understand what the commentators are talking about.

Kate said...

I'm not really very good with either spelling or grammar, for which I blame the new-fangled po-mo education phonics-based education system of the 1980s. I often feel like a fraud when marking essays, especially when I have to look up usages myself.

Anyway, after marking fecking god-knows-how-many truly ordinary undergrad essays, I am all confused with my its and it's again. I'm off to buy the Oxford Style guide to cleanse my brain...

Perry Middlemiss said...

Was that mispronunciation "pin-arkle" instead of "pinnacle"? I seem to remember hearing that in the past few days. Can't for the life of me remember where, but I do recall mentioning it to my wife at the time.

cristy said...

Oh. Fair enough. I am quietly relieved.

I used to work in childcare with a coordinator who used the 'word' youse on a regular basis. I always felt as though I should be able to ask her not to - 'for the sake of the children'.

She was, however, quite scary, and so I never did.

cristy said...

I'm with you Kate. The 80s have so much to answer for, and leg-warmers are not even on my list.

Kate said...

See? I wrote education twice. It's all my 5th grade teacher's fault.

Ron said...

Unless they want to see a volcanic eruption, my children have learnt not to use 'youse' anywhere near me!

Pavlov's Cat said...

Kate, I think it was the abandonment of phonics -- the spelling-out of sounds that make up a word -- that was the problem. The so-called 'whole language' method was about recognition and experience of whole words rather than phonemes, and, in keeping with the times, was a reaction away from what was seen as mechanistic and anti-holistic in phonics.

It was fine for some kids but others were skating by on guessing and memorising, and ended up semi-literate, if that, at fifteen -- and certainly unable to distinguish among (for example) 'bough', 'cough', 'dough', 'fought', 'rough', 'trough' and 'thought', as written down, to save themselves. (Ironically this kind of illogic in pronunciation was one of the things 'whole language' advocates argued against phonics.)

Now, though, most people seem to be admitting that phonics is better. I think what's currently taught in most places is a mixture of the two. But it's the subject of on ongoing and often vicious and fanatical debate in education.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Kate -- here's an easy trick for remembering it's and its: think of that apostrophe in "it's" as a substitute for the missing i in "is".

R H said...

The latte set say "on Brunswick Street" instead of 'in' Brunswick Street.

They think they're on Broadway.

Kate said...

Yeah PC it was only a momentary lapse, bought on by 71 essays, ALL OF WHICH GOT IT WRONG.

Really, I liken my knowledge of my language, and grammar particularly, to my ability to drive a car. I can do so in a utilitarian enough manner but I am very far from being either a) a race car driver (fantastically talented author AK AS Byatt) or b) a mechanic (someone who can recognise participles etc etc).

ThirdCat said...

The night before my first matric exam, my mum said 'if you can't think of the answer, make a good joke and they will work out a way to give you the marks'. Perhaps there is more to that piece of advice than I have previously realised.

comicstriphero said...

Oh dear god I love this post.

I'm in pedant's heaven. Peavan.

Mummy/Crit said...

The use of 'exacerpate' by the emergency services bloke (or whoever he was) amused me no end, and seemed vaguely appropriate, given the problem (tunnels, not a lot of movement, sounds like 'constipate'...etc) and just to put in my 2c worth - I like 'youse'. I don't use it often, but I always feel that modern english lacks that plural pronoun (along with one for "we, (me and someone else) not including you". We're left with weird plural pronouns ('you guys' for a gender mixed group still doesn't sit well with me). Yay for pedantry and sociolinguistics.

Daniel said...

Earlier, I wrote the following: 'While the Neanderthal men in little shorts struggle manfully for possession of a leather ball this season what do you think about?'

The reason for my question was to gather reactions to the brutality which the crowd obviously enjoys. I see such encounters as Gladiatorial, similar to those in Ancient Rome but lacking the fatalities (although, accidentally, some have occurred).

Am I alone in this view?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Sorry, sceptical -- I like watching footy, and I'm a feminist. I don't think it's brutality, just boys working out their testosterone in a relatively harmless manner. You want brutality, check out Parliament.

I can't work out from your comment whether you're anti-sport, anti-football, or specifically anti-AFL. Isn't all sport gladiatorial?

I didn't respond to Perry's comment either, sorry -- no, mummy/crit has picked it, it was 'exacerpate'. Interesting point about who said it -- I only pick on people who need to pronounce things properly, and this guy was either a senior executive or an actual journalist, as I recall.

csh - yes, I know you enjoy this sort of thing!

Anonymous said...

It gets worse.

"Youse is gunna" or "youse are gunna"?

I like "youse". It is a clear dialect word that has not strayed far from its origins. Unlike terms like "grouse", it never got fashionable.

I love the spectacle of people I would be delighted to see charging towards me through carnage dealing with the unaccustomed pressure of the meedja.

"We gunned the firetruck up the hill towards the house but it went on fire." Fair enough.

But inside the notion of dialect is both a respect for variant usage, and the knowledge that we maintain standard received Australian as an effective way to communicate.

Media professionals should maintain that usage. Their interviewees are free to do what they like.

- barista

btw, the code word for me was "zivea". That should mean something. Soon.

Also, I was once vaguely disappointed to discover how easy it is to find a thesaurus online.

Whiskers said...

I can't say I disagree. I'll check to see the consensus. Happy mother's day!

Matt Schinckel said...

I read Eats, shoots and leaves recently (flying back from Melbourne, as it turns out), and loved it. It did even teach me, a self-confessed language pedant, a couple of things about various punctuatory (GRIN) items.

I originally bought it while drunk from the bookshop in Hindley street, and must have had a blackout that night, as I forgot I had it for about 12 months.

Seriously though, this is the coolest book, and not just for the "punctuation repair kit" which you are encouraged to use to fix signs that are just plain wrong.