The Return of The thread on word usage that grates like blackboard fingernails...

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bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Sineed wrote:

I agree about Eye-rack - to that list I'd add Eye-ran.  Though the advantage to these pronunciations is they provide a ready-made "ignoramus alert" - opinions courtesy of Fox news.


And who hasn't heard "Eye-talian" -- in all three instances, I don't think it is something that can be casually excused as a minor regional difference in pronounciation. In the last case in particular (Italy/Italian), the sources I can find quickly on line all indicated that the pronounciation was intentionally derogatory and pejorative (first usage these sources identified is from 1848) and I think that reading that same derogatory intention into the mis-pronounciation of Iraq/Iraqi or Iran/Iranian is quite reasonable.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

[the dreaded double post, I dealt with it]


Am I so old and/or out of touch that rules of grammar have changed without me noticing?  Correct me if I'm wrong but is there an "issue" with this quote and similar quotes which we hear every day.... "last month's meeting which was chaired by myself....."          

Is "myself" not a reflexive personal pronoun which should refer back to the subject of the sentence and be used to add emphasis.  "Now that I'm a big boy, I chaired last month's meeting myself."  "I may have chaired last month's meeting but last month's meeting was chaired by me".  This of course brings us to we're using "chair" as a verb.


Sineed wrote:


Okay here's one I heard today: substituting "issue" for "problem."  So the CBC said, "There's an issue on the subway today - no trains are running between Eglinton and Union Stations."  Apparently there are "issues with the signal lights."


Hear hear; or colloquially, here here.


I have quoted this somewhere before, maybe even on babble:



Use the right words and reality will bend to your wishes. That's one of the central beliefs of our society. We think words are magic. We think that applying pleasant words to ugly facts and unpleasant people will improve them.

Nothing illustrates this better than "issue," which is replacing "problem" in the common vocabulary. We used to say "problem" when something made us uncomfortable. Twenty years ago, a phrase like "his drinking problem" distanced the drinker from the drink, making the cause seem exterior to the man. But putting that much moral weight on "problem" finally rendered it comfortless. Then "issue" came to the rescue.

I'm glad to find this change noted in Junk English (Blast Books, New York) by Ken Smith, an American writer who has produced a vigorous polemic against shifty, pretentious and misleading language. Smith argues that "issue" entered common speech via self-help jargon, its purpose being to avoid passing judgment. If we say Fred has a problem with alcohol, we now clearly mean he's a drunk. But if we say "He has issues with alcohol," we imply he's facing up to a serious matter and will resolve it in time. The same applies to "We have discipline issues at this school." The word has become so omnipresent that it means almost anything. The other night the voice-over on a TV commercial for skin conditioner said: "Mature skin has issues all its own." A friend of mine was told by a kindergarten teacher that his daughter has "dawdling issues." Junk English contains the perfect example: "She has weight issues."


Robert Fulford


Of all the "poetic license" used in public signs, the one that bothers me the most is drive-thru.  How do I explain to my kids that the proper spelling is through , when they are bombarded with thru where ever they go.  I betcha that if Horton's put up a sign that said drive-through, many of us would need an extra moment or two to figure it out.

Hey bagkitty...even though I prefer your spelling in's actually spelled pronunciation...I don't know just is.


bagkitty bagkitty's picture

[stroll of shame] thanks lepidoptera I shall go and flagellate myself now [/stroll of shame]

[ray of sunshine breaking through]but you did say you actually preferred the mistake [damn, still can see the sunshine]




Sineed wrote:

... to that list I'd add Eye-ran.

Wasn't that the title of the Shah's autobiography?


Maysie Maysie's picture

Sorry gang, I need to close this for the 100+ post reason. What a great thread, though. Smile


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