Streams

Word Maven Patricia T. O'Conner on Mayor Bloomberg's Speech

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our word maven Patricia T. O'Conner talks about Mayor Bloomberg's speech. She also answers questions about our confounding and complex English language. An updated and expanded third edition of her book, Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, has recently been published in paperback, and a paperback version of Origins of the Specious, written with Stewart Kellerman, was just issued.

Guests:

Patricia T. O'Conner

Comments [103]

Carol Cannon from Astoria

Would someone kindly inform me which sponsor of WNYC-FM uses the word "verdant"?
I am delivering a talk at the DNNY this Sunday about "Defining, Holding, and Realizing a Vision for Our Planet" and I believe just using this word enlivens belief in the possibility...I would appreciate anyone responding.
Thank you,
Carol

Feb. 29 2012 11:58 AM
Rhoda - To Leah from Upper East Side

Most people I know say avenyoo, without knowing it's actually a-veh-nyoo,
the same nyoo as is "new" which most New Yorkers say as noo. Go figure!

Feb. 16 2011 09:07 AM
Neil from Brooklyn

On the pronunciation of Carnegie: the Piitsburgh accent on the second syllable ('nay') is precisely the pronunciation in Carnegie's native Scotland.

The follow-up question about Pittsburgh use of 'you-ins": this is also almost certainly Scots in origin. In Lowland Scotland still today,
"yous yins" = "you ones",
while "ous yins" = us ones = we.
In Pittsburgh, yous-yins becomes you-ins.
Purely surmising, Scots Appalachians probably explain the linguisric parallel.

Feb. 15 2011 10:59 PM
Joseph from Park Slope, Brooklyn

My first grade teacher used to berate anyone who left the R out when pronouncing February. I've included it ever since.

Feb. 15 2011 03:22 PM
maarten

Why the use of the word Verdant on the sponsor message on WNYC? I mean, come on! No One knows it I think- Its totally old and odd. Verdant: hilly and fertile? Making the world more
1. (of countryside) Green with grass or other rich vegetation.
2. Of the bright green color of lush grass.
Make the world more Green or Sustainable, protect nature- but disuse Verdant in the process, what do you think?

Feb. 15 2011 03:11 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I moved to NYC from the DC area in 1980, & I notice that a lot of New Yorkers say "BroadWAY" (& weekEND). It's a regional variation, like so many others. I don't understand why anyone would complain about it!

On the other hand, I completely agree w/the comments complaining about the mispronunciations in WNYC's underwriting announcements. Many of these are the old "emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble" problem, like "Fra DiaVOlo" instead of "Fra DiAHvolo." Others are serious phrasing errors: 1 of the announcers describes "Inception" as dealing w/"a world between dreams, & reality," as if that world were between different dreams, & the movie also dealt w/reality (the other announcer phrases it correctly, so it's clear that it's a world that's between dreams on the 1 hand & reality on the other). Even worse, though, was the pronunciation of "For Colored Girls..." as if it were "Four Colored Girls..."! Whew--I guess I really needed to get that off my chest! Is there any chance WNYC could get someone to review these announcements for pronunciation & phrasing (what linguists call "stress & juncture")?

Feb. 15 2011 02:52 PM
anonyme

Yes I think people get a little frantic about correctness at times! I really don't like being at a dinner party where this kind of thing stops the conversation - or at least causes a pause. It's like sticks in the bum sometimes.

Feb. 15 2011 01:58 PM
Leslie from Brooklyn

Pittsbughers do not say YENZ guys but Younz guys

Feb. 15 2011 01:57 PM

Cat out of the bag has to do with disclosing a secret. See:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/let-the-cat-out-of-the-bag.html

Those guys seem right. Has to do with substituting a cat for a piglet in a bag, or poke. If you discover that you have a cat instead of a piget, the "cat has been let out of the bag"

Feb. 15 2011 01:57 PM
michael from brooklyn

i thought "let the cat out of the cat" was basically from a switch-a-roo (there's a another phrase for you) that salesmen would pull in medieval people buying pigs. they would swap in a cat so it wasn't until they got back home that they realized it was a cat. letting it out of the bag

Feb. 15 2011 01:57 PM
Emm

2 snobs exhausting me with tedious rule following hooey.

Feb. 15 2011 01:57 PM
Laura from UWS

Charles Gehring. Archivist who mentioned "XXX"

He'd make a great guest.

"The New Netherland Project, the source of Shorto’s primary documents for The Island at the Center of the World, is a joint venture of the New York State Library, based in Albany, and the Holland Society, based in New York City. Its primary objective is to complete the transcription, translation, and publication of all Dutch documents in New York repositories relating to the seventeenth-century colony of New Netherland. Most of the work of translation has been carried out during the course of a 20-year period by local scholar Charles Gehring, director of the New Netherland Project"

http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/shorto_russell.html

Feb. 15 2011 01:56 PM
Peggy

Frankly, Patricia, anybody who still says "whipper snapper" NEEDS to be called ma'am.

Seriously, what *should* someone who is younger than you call you? Miss?

Feb. 15 2011 01:56 PM
Ivan H. from NYC

"EXCUSE ME":
If one were to pronounce it fully, with the "ex" in the beginning, it is often taken sarcastically, sardonically, ironically..... (Bump ionto someone, "ex-CUSE me...")
Nowadays it is polite to simply say " 'scuse me" after bumping into someone.

Feb. 15 2011 01:56 PM
Gary from Pittsburgh from Pittsburgh

We do use "yins" in Pennsylvania and "hell-yins."

Feb. 15 2011 01:56 PM
Maia from Pawtucket, RI

XXX is the city coat of arms for Amsterdam. I think it dates back to the 16th century and is from St. Andrew's crosses.

Feb. 15 2011 01:55 PM
MB from Hoboken

YES, Pittsburghers say YINZ. Everybody knows that!!

... and JAG-off, and a million other Pittsburghese terms.

Feb. 15 2011 01:55 PM
Jane from Manhattan

"Taliaferro" was also pronounced "Toliver" when I attended classes at Taliaferro Hall at the University of Maryland. Perhaps this pronunciation is a Southern thing.

Feb. 15 2011 01:53 PM
Jimmy from brooklyn

Did anyone notice John Stewart's guest, oil man T. Boone Pickens, last week on Comedy Central's Daily Show saying "I'm not Ned in the first reader," as a way of expressing that he wasn't naive? It slipped by so quickly, Stewart didn't even seem to notice it, although I'm sure many in the audience were baffled.

My grandfather, who was born in rural Arkansas in 1918 used this expression all the time! He explained that Ned was a foolish character from an elementary school reading manual that everyone who went to school would have known.

Is this expression purely regional? Clearly, it's a good example of an expression that's on the way out, almost completely gone, in fact.

Feb. 15 2011 01:53 PM
Roger from Greenpoint

Ok here it is .. if you want to drown a cat.. like if you were a farmer and wanted to rid the barn of some of the unwanted young guests.
It would be necessary to put it in a bag.. as cats are very good swimmers. This is a traditional way of drowning cats.. at least in England.. I grew up near farms..

If you let the cat out of the bag all hell breaks loose..

Feb. 15 2011 01:53 PM
Mike from Manhattan

Pat's explanation about the fancy hubcaps is wrong. Wire spoke wheels were used for racing and sports/sporty cars through the 60's because they allowed air flow to cool the breaks better than the mostly solid wheels used in sedans ("sedan" for a passenger car is another true anachronism--as in sedan chairs). The sports connotation has stuck even though racing wheels now have three or four hollow pillars between the rim and hub.

Feb. 15 2011 01:53 PM
Ted Cosbey from NYC

"Cat out of the bag"
The phrase more likely refers to the practice of putting a live cat in a leather bottle and setting it swinging as a target for marksmen. For example, Shakespeare, in Much Ado About Nothing, writes: "Hang me in a bottle like a cat, and shoot at me." This was discussed in The Times in January 2007

Feb. 15 2011 01:52 PM
Roger from Brooklyn

So, based on what you just said on the air about there not being a future tense, it's okay that NBC News anchors keep saying "we're back in a moment" - I've always thought that we are here now. We will be back in a moment.

-Roger

Feb. 15 2011 01:52 PM
Pete from nyc

I tend to accept that "record", when used to describe a CD, is correct because it refers to a recording of any kind. We've just grown to attach it to vinyl.

Feb. 15 2011 01:52 PM
Julia from Harlem

Could you recommend any good reading on the study of history through language? I'm interested in the clues that language gives us to the ways cultures have mixed over the millenia, whether it's the influx of Latin-based words at the time of the Norman conquest, to the links between "royal" and "raj".

Feb. 15 2011 01:52 PM
anonyme

You'd say "Fahv" - don't pronounce the "re" part.

Feb. 15 2011 01:51 PM
ROB from forest hills

john bohner?

Feb. 15 2011 01:50 PM
Roger from Brooklyn

So, based on what you just said on the air about there not being a future tense, it's okay that NBC News anchors keep saying "we're back in a moment" - I've always thought that we are here now. We will be back in a moment.

-Roger

Feb. 15 2011 01:50 PM
marcellus

hey! the word RECORD comes from the word RECORDING. nothing wrong with calling a CD or mp3 a RECORD!

just like the way we use the measurement 'horsepower.'

Feb. 15 2011 01:50 PM

Phrases.org.uk seems to be pretty good.

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/let-the-cat-out-of-the-bag.html

Don't let a cat out of the bag, means "disclose a secret." So they think it has to do with substituting a cat for a piglet in a bag at market. If you discover you have a cat instead of a piglet, the secret has disclosed.

Feb. 15 2011 01:49 PM
James

Thank you for addressing the "feel bad" vs. "feel badly" (incorrect) issue. (We don't say "feel happily" do we?
re: cat out of the bag
There are two commonly heard suggested origins of this phrase. One relates to the fraud of substituting a cat for a piglet at markets. If you let the cat out of the bag you disclosed the trick - and avoided buying a pig in a poke (bag). This form of trickery is long alluded to in the language and 'pigs in a poke' are recorded as early as 1530.

The other theory is that the 'cat' referred to is the cat o' nine tails, which was used to flog ill-disciplined sailors. Again, this has sufficient historical record to be at least possible

Feb. 15 2011 01:49 PM
Robert DeTagle from New Jersey

Hello. 'Beg the question' means 'to assume the truth of the very point raised in a question' (Dictionary.com), as in a fallacy at a debate.

A lot of people in broadcasting misuse that (Diane Sawyer, I believe, also did this) to mean "(a situation) demands that this question be raised."

I find it an error that should not be perpetuated. Is this use of the phrase acceptable?

2. Also, William Safire wrote about 'centered around' being incorrect where the proper expression should be 'revolves around.' But I see 'centered around' being used more and more. Is this OK?

3. By the way, I recall in school that 'Wednesday' being pronounced 'wens-di' rather than 'wens-day.' Is my memory failing me?

Thank you!

Feb. 15 2011 01:49 PM
david from Harlem

Adding to the list of surviving tech terminology: "turning-off" the light from when that was how they were "switched-off". "Records" have also been referred to as "albums" from the 78 rpm and Edison era.

Feb. 15 2011 01:49 PM
Becky Morrison from Brooklyn

Can the Word Maven offer any guidance on the correct use of "were" vs. "was." As in: If I were going to go on a vacation now I'd..." Or should it be was? Thanks.

Feb. 15 2011 01:48 PM
Laura from UWS

Car.

Thoreau, in his book on Cape Cod, wrote about cars---must have been horse-drawn vehicles.

Feb. 15 2011 01:48 PM
Joe from Bridgewater, NJ

Letting the cat out of the bag refers to trying to sell a cat (in a bag) as a pig. "Letting the cat out of the bag" reveals the intended fraud. Also why one shouldn't buy a pig in a poke.

Feb. 15 2011 01:48 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Oops, I left the "s" off "anyways" in my comment! Kind of undercut my point there....

Feb. 15 2011 01:48 PM
Doug from West Village

The woman who does the Underwriters' announcements emphasizes the last syllable in concerto and Manhattan. She says con-chair-TOE and man-ha-TIN. Also says PEE-uh-nist. Every dictionary shows pee-ANN-ist as the preferred pronunication.

Feb. 15 2011 01:47 PM
gi from nyc

why "standing ON line rather than "standing IN line (which makes sense)...?

Feb. 15 2011 01:47 PM
Laura from UWS

XXX for obscenities dates back to Dutch New York. I heard a talk by an archivist from Albany, a wonderful man who helped Russell Shorto with his book about Dutch New York.

It was in transcripts of legal proceedings first, I think, and was taken up by the English.

Feb. 15 2011 01:46 PM
Katherine Jackson from LES

I'm sure you've gone over this before, but could you please go over the difference between "like" and "as"? And give a few examples. I keep running into what strikes me as incorrect use of "like" in comparisons.

Feb. 15 2011 01:46 PM
Boo Killebrew from brooklyn

I was raised in Mississippi and was taught to say "No sir", "Yes ma'am", etc. I still do it, because I feel that it is polite and it is just a natural part of my speech. I've lived in NYC for 11 years, and many people tell me that it is rude, people are offended. Please let me know what is the most polite way of addressing your elders, clients, etc.

Thank you!
Boo

Feb. 15 2011 01:46 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I can understand the use of expressions like "anyway" or "it's a ways from here" as colloquialisms, but I never heard anyone but Bloomberg actually use "ways" by itself as a singular. It bugs the hell out of me, probably because he seems to think he's right about everything & won't accept any questioning of his decisions. This wasn't the main reason I opposed his having a 3rd term, but I was afraid if he was reelected he'd have all the "ONE WAY" signs changed to read "ONE WAYS"!

Feb. 15 2011 01:46 PM
gi from nyc

why "standing ON line rather than "standing IN line (which makes sense)...?

Feb. 15 2011 01:46 PM
Ed from Brooklyn

Would Ms P please comment on the use of qualifiers with the word "unique."

Feb. 15 2011 01:46 PM
nkh from nyc

where does "by heart" come from as in "I know it by heart"?

Feb. 15 2011 01:45 PM
David Airey from Lake Peekskill, NY

I'm originally from the UK where we say "I COULDN'T care less...." about whatever it may be, and it drives me nuts to hear Americans say "I COULD care less..."about something, because it's actually saying the opposite of what they mean!
How has that come about?

Feb. 15 2011 01:45 PM
MB from Hoboken

Yes, LESS vs. FEWER really gets under my skin, every time I hear someone say LESS WORDS when they mean FEWER. Ugh!

And often (quiet T), people who are from Pittsburgh (myself included) pronounced Carnegie car-NEH-gie. But after 26 years of living in NY I've started pronouncing it CAR-neh-gie.

... and to Judy - Actually, pronouncing the T in often is an overcompensation (trying to sound more educated).

Feb. 15 2011 01:45 PM
Barbara from Princeton, NJ

One of the phrases used all the time by news reporters that bothers me most is when they refer to someone as missing. They say "so and so WENT missing." How can someone "go" missing?

Love to know how this got started and why it's been adopted for use.

Please comment.

Thanks,

Feb. 15 2011 01:45 PM
Christopher Chew from Brooklyn

go to hospital or go to the hospital?

do americans use the word "queue"?

Feb. 15 2011 01:44 PM
Nicholas Messitte from Brooklyn

"All right" versus "alright"

please discuss.

I believe All right is correct, and here's why:

all right means "all is right"
all ready means "all is ready"
already means "having happened before"
so WHAT THE HECK DOES ALRIGHT MEAN?

Feb. 15 2011 01:44 PM
Roz from nyc

I suspect the person who asked whether it should be badly vs. bad, may have been asking whether it should be " I feel bad about having let the cat out of the bag" vs. "I feel badly about having let the cat out of the bag." ( I suspect the latter is the correct usage.)

Feb. 15 2011 01:44 PM
Ed from Brooklyn

Would Ms P please comment on the use of qualifiers with the word "unique."

Feb. 15 2011 01:43 PM
Mike from Inwood

My younger sister used to say "amn't" for am not in the early 1960s. Interesting to hear the contraction is simply obsolete. Her approach when we were children was to claim that even if it wasn't a word, it SHOULD be. Therefore, she would use it.

Feb. 15 2011 01:43 PM
nick from NYC

correct pronounciation of "divisive"
??

Feb. 15 2011 01:43 PM
mark anderson from Manhattan

Origin
There are two commonly heard suggested origins of this phrase. One relates to the fraud of substituting a cat for a piglet at markets. If you let the cat out of the bag you disclosed the trick - and avoided buying a pig in a poke (bag). This form of trickery is long alluded to in the language and 'pigs in a poke' are recorded as early as 1530.

The other theory is that the 'cat' referred to is the cat o' nine tails, which was used to flog ill-disciplined sailors. Again, this has sufficient historical record to be at least possible. The cat o' nine tails was widely used and was referred to in print many years prior to the first use of 'let the cat out of the bag'. The 'nine tails' part of the name derives from the three strands of cord that the rope lashes were made from. Each of the cords were in turn made from three strands of string. When unbraided a piece of rope separated into nine strings. The 'cat' part no doubt alluded to the scratches that the knotted ends of the lash made on the victim's back, like those from a cat's claws.

Feb. 15 2011 01:43 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Tell us about the McDonald's ad phrase: "I'm luvin' it."

I think it's obnoxious, but is it as incorrect as it sounds?

I listen with much difficulty to television and radio news because the anchors and reporters seem to have little grasp of grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary. How do they get degrees in communication when theirs is so awful?

Feb. 15 2011 01:42 PM
David Brabyn from New York

I had never heard "where are you at?" until I came to the US in 2004.

Is that a correct use of 'at'?

Feb. 15 2011 01:42 PM
Tim from Upper West Side

What in the world are we to do about the proliferation of "actually." Actually, it is driving me crazy.

Feb. 15 2011 01:42 PM
David from Hackettstown, NJ

My 5 year old son uses the word "forlost" instead of "forgot."

Feb. 15 2011 01:42 PM
Leah from Brooklyn

I also her "devolve" to mean "de-evolve" or "break down." Do you know when did this shift from the standard meaning occurred?

Feb. 15 2011 01:41 PM
zach from west palm beach

People often use the singular incorrectly as in
"There's three blind mice"

Feb. 15 2011 01:41 PM
Peter from Westchester

On Carnegie:

In Pittsburgh, the Scottish pronunciation is still used! They ought to know with all the Carnegie-named institutions.

Feb. 15 2011 01:41 PM
Josh from Brooklyn

A professor I know pronounces "adequate" like this: "a-de-kit." Any precedent for that?

Feb. 15 2011 01:41 PM
Garry from NYC

I've heard a lot of people add a "t" to across, as in "acrosst" but I can't stitch these folks together through any shared regional accent. Do you have any idea where this comes from?

Feb. 15 2011 01:41 PM
John St John from Mahwah NJ

What about what seems to very common grammar at present where someone will say "Him and me went to the movies" instead of "He and I ..." Is this form becoming accepted common English?

Feb. 15 2011 01:40 PM
Leah from Brooklyn

My husband, from Long Island, says "Eighth Avenyoo," whereas I (a Michigander), pronounce it "Avenoo." Is this a regionalism or are we just strange speakers?

Feb. 15 2011 01:40 PM
bob from Manhattan

Why are social security and medicare refereed to as entitlements -- where other expenditures of the federal government are not. DOD spending, Health care for retired federal workers???

Feb. 15 2011 01:39 PM
Sharon from Manhattan

I notice people dropping "-ly" from adverbs. As in, "I am real mad", as opposed to "I am really mad".
Is it just me that is noticing this?

Feb. 15 2011 01:39 PM
Cory from Planet Earth

Cat out of the bag is a British Naval term. The cat was the cat o' nine tails. The bag was the baize bag it was stored in. The results were less than salubrious.

Feb. 15 2011 01:39 PM
Martina from Brooklyn

Letting the cat out of the bag - I believe comes from medieval days when merchants would sell pigs, but rather hide a cat in the bag instead of the actual pig... love the show! Martina

Feb. 15 2011 01:38 PM
anonyme

In France, they say "quoi" like we say "you know"

I never noticed this in Canada, but that doesn't mean it doesn't also happen there.

Feb. 15 2011 01:38 PM
Shelley from Prairie Du Chien, WI

Please comment on: the seemingly popular and accepted usage of "Me and...", instead of "....and I," and, the use of "bunch," when "many" or a more specific word would be more in keeping with the speaker's otherwise, very articulate choice of words.

Thank you.

Feb. 15 2011 01:38 PM
Mark - To Sandra

In the A&E "Biography" of Andrew Carnegie it was mentioned that the family said car-NEG-ee, though many say CAR-nuh-gee.

Similar to the Van Wyck family who've always said Van Wike, which has become Van Wick by those who haven't heard it said correctly,

Feb. 15 2011 01:38 PM
Matt

The NYTimes magazine had an article about coffee last weekend.

In it is a sentence that starts "when store runs out..." meaning "when supply runs out."

I'm trying to figure out if they meant "when a store" runs out or if they are just being a little innovative with "store." Any clue?

Feb. 15 2011 01:37 PM
Bill from Bloomfield

My father, a college professor, often uses the word dis-e-regardless as a joke. My sister was alarmed when she used the word without thinking about it in a paper during her college years and got points taken off! She figured if Dad used it, it must be correct!

Feb. 15 2011 01:35 PM

Who does the editing of the sponsorship readers on WNYC?

Within the last 2 months I have heard

Dee R tag nun's

and

Archie Pell AH go

Feb. 15 2011 01:35 PM
GLADYS from NJ

Sorry but 'often' with the 't' pronounced is correct and not even close to the ignorance of saying nowhereS, anywhereS, somewhereS, FEBuARY without the R ... comes from never learning the language properly. English is often spoken best by those who came from abroad and studied it. Bloomberg for all his money sounds like a street kid.

Feb. 15 2011 01:35 PM
Grant from Harlem

Wondering about why prepositions cannot finish a sentence.... Sometimes I don't see a way around it.

Also, would love to know how Ms. O'Connor unlearned saying "you know"

Feb. 15 2011 01:35 PM
Amy from nyc

So often I hear people using the present for the future as in, where are you today? Today I'm home all day.

Feb. 15 2011 01:34 PM
Frank Grimaldi from East Village

While on the subject of pronunciation of every syllabel what about the difference between "pocketbook" and the way that I always hear it pronounced "pock a book."

Feb. 15 2011 01:34 PM
Judy from nyc

What about that first "t" in often? It sounds so pretentious. Please tell me it's ok so it can stop bothering me.

Feb. 15 2011 01:34 PM
Dean from Brooklyn from Brooklyn

Am I crazy or was it "plead" guilty when I was a kid? When did it become "pleaded?" It makes me crazy to hear it!

Feb. 15 2011 01:33 PM
doublejnyc from Upper West Side

Discuss the difference between how the british say negotiate.

Americans pronounce the first T with a soft SHH sound The Brits say it with a hard S sound.

Feb. 15 2011 01:33 PM
Jeff from Park Slope

There are many words that one can hear on TV, or even in casual conversation in public today, that you would never have heard in "good company" 20 or 30 years ago. A mild example of this is the word damn, although there are many others. Can you give any examples of words that perhaps 75-100 years ago that would have been really off-color or deragatory that are now common place and acceptable?

Feb. 15 2011 01:33 PM
kate from brooklyn

my ten year old son uses the word: "amn't"

as in : " I am ten years old, amn't I ?"

any comments?

Feb. 15 2011 01:33 PM
MQ from NYC

I know some Indians (from India the country) pronouces, "wednesday" as
"we-d-nes-day," enouciating "d' sound.

Feb. 15 2011 01:32 PM
Judy from nyc

What about that first "t" in often? It sounds so pretentious. Please tell me it's ok so it can stop bothering me.

Feb. 15 2011 01:32 PM
sandra from Brooklyn

What is the correct pronunciation of "Carnegie Hall"?

Please!!!!

Feb. 15 2011 01:31 PM
Howard from Riverdale

Less and Fewer! No one seems to know the difference and most are using less incorrectly, including a cable network's tag line - less commercials!

Feb. 15 2011 01:31 PM
Ron from Bronx

God forbid but will "irregardless" ever become acceptable?

Feb. 15 2011 01:30 PM
Derek from Long Island

Yes Mayor Bloomberg is from the Boston area. My father in law who is from Brooklyn would often say " Idears" as apposed to Idea's? Would that be considered a regional dilect? Thank you!

Feb. 15 2011 01:30 PM
a g from n j

perhaps the mayor is using an "s" at the end to mask a lisp ?

Feb. 15 2011 01:29 PM
Heidi from Manhattan

Mayor Bloomberg also has a very odd intonation, ends his sentences up!!! like question marks and many Europeans.

Feb. 15 2011 01:28 PM
anonyme

My sister who used to live in Ahlington MA says she loves listening to Bloomy's Malden-isms, (he's from Malden, MA, I guess) which I don't hear as much as she does

Feb. 15 2011 01:28 PM
Blythe from Franklin Lakes NJ

I am constantly correcting my husband’s use of “less” when I think he should be saying “fewer.” For example he’ll say “My team scored less points in the second period than the first.” This sounds incorrect to me. Is there a grammar rule for the correct use of less and fewer?

Feb. 15 2011 01:23 PM
Bernard from Bronx

How about the misuse of the word "alternate" where the speaker means another option or choice in which case the correct word is "alternative"

Feb. 15 2011 01:09 PM
Taffany from LES

During the recent uprising in Egypt the Obama administration referred to the situation as being "fluid." I'm not sure I've heard fluid used that way before, it sounds as if fluid was being used in lieu of "volatile."

As a side note, days after this word was used, I heard someone use it at work and all over the media.

Feb. 15 2011 01:07 PM
a g from n j

i'd like to ask a philosophical question:
can a grammarian, and, a party animal, abide in the same body ?

Feb. 15 2011 12:44 PM
Rhoda from Upper East Side

Mayor Bloomberg often says "anywheres" and "elsewheres." I'm surpised no one on his staff has brought it to his attention beginnin in his first term.
Where does this type of error originate?

Feb. 15 2011 12:38 PM
William H. Lorentz from Maplewood, NJ

How do you account for presumably well educated peoples' -- especially politicians and government officials -- inability to use proper subject - verb agreement? e.g.
"There's many ways to solve the problem" or "There's many people you would expect to be precisionists in the use of their first language."

Is there something to plain laziness between correct usage but harder to say versus the easiest pronunciation?

Feb. 15 2011 12:30 PM

When did "anytime soon" become part of American language? Before moving here from the UK 13 yrs ago I had never heard it . I think it might be catching on in Britain as on my last visit I heard it a couple of times on the news.

Feb. 15 2011 12:19 PM
Gabriel from NYC

It seems like it has become a trend to enunciate the first R in February. Is this correct? No one is saying Wed-NES-day, isn't February similar?

Feb. 15 2011 12:04 PM

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