Although I grew up in the Maritimes where people are often made fun of for their diction and pronunciation, I have to say, I was taught to speak rather well. I remember my grade two teacher in particular, telling us to pronounce the “r” in February (and I still do) and to open our vowels when we speak so that “our” doesn’t sound like “are”.
While I’ll admit that I have fun slipping into Cape Bretonese on occasion, the pronunciation and grammar lessons of my youth are fully ingrained in my every day speech and were solidified even further when I became an English teacher. Grammar and pronunciation have always been important in my world. I guess that’s why hearing the incorrect use of certain words and phrases penetrates my nerves like nails on a chalkboard.
Take the term, “anyways”. OMG! There is only one way! The word is an adverb. It cannot take a plural or possessive form; hence, no “s”. I remember when I first met my husband he used to tack an “s” on “anyway” when he was speaking. I couldn’t stand it so I wasted little time correcting him. Since his mother had been quite a grammar fanatic, he considered this was correct. I challenged him to find it in the dictionary, and of course, he couldn’t so he had to humbly retreat and start using the term correctly. I love it when I am right.
Another confusion that people make is using the term “unsatisfied” instead of “dissatisfied”. Here’s the easiest way to tell the difference. Dissatisfied is an emotion, as in, “I was dissatisfied with his performance.” In other words, it made me feel unhappy or disappointed. Unsatisfied can only be used when you are not referring to an emotion. “His hunger was unsatisfied.”
Regardless of what you believe, “Irregardless” is not even a word! It is a word that is so commonly misused, uneducated people believe they sound intelligent if they use it. Can't you see they don't?
“Orientated” is another one of those common non-words that people use. The proper term is “oriented” which refers to finding your direction or position. It can also refer to the way someone thinks. One might say, “I am very business oriented” or “I had to re-orient myself after nine hours of travel”. Remember, the word has four syllables, not five.
If you say, “I could care less”, then you are not even thinking about what you are saying. You probably mean, “I couldn’t care less”, which of course means that it isn’t even possible for you to care. Think about it. If you could care, then you have the ability to care. If you couldn’t care, then you do not have the ability to care. Trust me. I am right.
“Myself” is a reflexive pronoun. What that means, is you can only use it when you are talking about doing something alone. “I will do it myself.” In this case you are the subject and the object of the sentence. You may also use “myself” for intensity such as, “I, myself, have witnessed such atrocities.” If you are planning a meeting with another person, then you cannot correctly say, “Jerry and myself will be holding a conference call at 8:00.” If you took Jerry out of the sentence, you would have to say, “I”. It is sadly very common to see corporate announcements stating, “John Smith will be reporting to myself.” The correct pronoun to use in this case is “me”. It’s pretty simple, really, so stop referring to yourself in reflexive form when you are sharing space with another person.
Renée Cormier is a Communications and Public Relations Specialist, published author, former English teacher and sales/marketing strategist. Renée can be contacted through her website at www.reneecormier.com