I try not to perpetuate the image: I’ve never worn my hair in a bun, never mind stuck a pencil through one.
I do, however, grit my teeth every time I hear “less” when “fewer” should be used, inserting the correct word in my head while I’m listening. (Just for the record: if you can count it, the word should be “fewer”, e.g. fewer calories, less fat). Fewer is a word that’s disappearing rapidly, I’ve noticed, and soon I’ll need a mouth guard to protect my enamel.
English teachers tend to pay attention to words. We can’t help ourselves. If we weren’t fascinated by language, we’d be adding columns of numbers or firing up Bunsen burners instead.
Another example of sloppy usage:
Troop - A group of soldiers, esp. a cavalry unit commanded
by a captain, or an airborne unit.
And yet in today’s news, the word has come to mean one soldier, as in “Four troops were killed during the border skirmish in _________(insert whatever war-torn country you’d like).
The following two are just garden-variety annoying, examples of the imprecision of the English language. I still am truly impressed by anyone who takes it on as a second language.
Explain if you can, how this contradiction came to be:
Sanction – Noun: A threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule
Verb: Give official permission or approval for
So think about it. The U.S of A. may lower sanctions on some country gone astray, but first someone has to sanction that act. Go figure.
Then we have the paradox of :
Oversight – Noun - An unintentional failure to notice or do something.
Verb – The action of supervising something or someone.
This does invite some reflection on the whole concept of an oversight committee.
Okay. I feel better now.
I promise to save my rant on apostrophes for another day.