My local coffee shop currently sports a sign that says, “We are short-staffed due to recruitment problems, please bare with us”. I hope the misspelling is a joke, I suspect it isn’t. It might lead to arrests for indecency.
It is enough, however, to spark one of my intermittent rants in which I list language failings I have seen, heard, or read recently. All of them annoying. As ever, I will fit in as many as space allows.
Po-faced is humourless and disapproving. It isn’t interchangeable with poker-faced, which is deliberately expressionless. Brandishing and burnishing are very different. Allowed and aloud are entirely different words that, frankly, I was astonished to see mixed up. The phrase is pass muster, not pass mustard. The latter would nip a bit.
Data is plural, datum is singular. Canvas is a stout fabric, canvass is to solicit votes. A yoke refers to servitude, a yolk is part of an egg. Mixing these up when choosing breakfast could be detrimental to your entire day.
“My bad” is an entirely meaningless phrase. “Simple as” or “easy as” are incomplete phrases used by people who must have spectacularly limited vocabularies.
Hail is ice that falls from the sky, hale is healthy. A bridle vow might be a wedding promise from a horse. Hoard is to store up, hordes invade. Naval is to do with the Navy, navel is to do with your belly-button. Scrimp and skimp are related but have distinct meanings.
“Staring down the barrel of the goalkeeper” is a bizarrely mixed metaphor. The correct spelling is “alluded to”, not “illuded to”. There is no need to “pre-book”, book will do. Endemic and epidemic are different. Exalt and exult are different. Mineute isn’t a word meaning very small, that is minute. A roing boat is missing a w. A pikcher is not a picture. Honestly, did these people attend school?
A quotation is wise, memorable words re-used. A quote is what is given to a newspaper and not necessarily wise or memorable. Cite is neither sight nor site. Afflict is not inflict. Formerly and formally are very different.
“Up the ante” does not mean try harder, it is to increase the stakes. Up the anti is nonsensical. I’m not even going to discuss the phrase with the spelling “auntie”, other than to say that I have actually seen it – and done in ignorance, not as a poor taste joke.
Dependent is reliant upon, a dependant is a child who depends upon you. Unless you are using American English, in which case there is little hope for you.
Finally, I’ve never heard anyone say “Port Bhruachaidh” when they mean Broughty Ferry. Or polieas when they mean police. Putting Gaelic names on road signs and police cars is a waste of paint anywhere that Gaelic isn’t widely spoken.
Word of the week
Shameless, bold. The opposite of bashful. EG: “It takes a bashless chap to walk into a coffee shop and remove all his clothes.”
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