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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

This or That

I have been super sick and in bed for the last week. This is good for me in that I got a lot of work done on my computer. The bad thing is my house looks like a tornado hit and I wasted a lot of time on my computer. I also think I slept more in the last week than I have in the last six months combined.

Anyway, I was reading agent Michelle Wolfson's blog where she discussed an argument she and her husband had over a certain phrase. In this case it was "you've got another think coming" vs "you've got another thing coming." I have to admit, I have never in my life heard or read "you have another think coming." It has always been thing to me. It will probably remain thing for me. Although the arguments for think make sense it is still to hard for me to wrap my head around. It also looks like there is a pretty even split as to which term people use.

This got me thinking about terms, phrases, words, etc. that may be different based on region or that people just don't understand. I have compiled a few of my favorites and I will share them with you right now (don't you feel lucky?).

This one actually caused a debate in my family not too long ago. I have moved many times and all over the country because of my husband being in the Army. I have heard things different ways in different areas. I was trying to tell my brother about a house across town on the opposite corner and I said either caddy or kitty corner (I can't remember which I said) and he and my sister-in-law both said it was the other one (the one I didn't say). I had heard it both ways so I agreed but then I went home and did some research. It turns out this one is highly regional, with both being acceptable. However, what I found is that it originates from the French "quatre" which means four. So you are basically saying on the opposite of the four corners. Americans, not totally familiar with the French language (although seemingly fluent in French fries and French kissing), shortened it to a sound that they were more familiar with: caddy. In different regions they changed it to kitty. Interesting, no?

Quick: soda or pop? This is so regional. Since I move around so much I eliminate any confusion by just saying soda pop or coke or carbonated beverage.

I had a roommate who seriously asked on day, "Is it incognito, one word, or are you IN cognito?" This one makes me laugh still but there is obviously only one correct answer to this question. It is always one word.

One of my biggest pet peeves in the English language is when people do not understand this simple phrase: "I could not/couldn't care less." It is not "I could care less." To say you could care less means that you really do care and you therefore could care less than you actually do. So I guess if you do care and want to say that you could be persuaded to care less than it would work. Generally though people mean that they care as little as humanly possible about a subject and could not care any less. Learn this one, people!

Something I just discovered recently that totally shocked me: I KNOW I was taught to spell a certain word as d-i-l-e-m-n-a. I have spelled it that way my whole life. Then I tried to type it the other day and found that my autocorrect changed it to d-i-l-e-m-m-a. What the hell? I am a bit of a stickler in my spelling and I know I would not have spelled it incorrectly if I had been taught the proper spelling. I Googled this one and found that many people have had the same problem even though there is not, and never has been, a documented source stating dilemna is the proper spelling. Apparently there were just a bunch of rogue teachers through history who decided to create a bunch of snooty people going around arrogantly correcting people even though they were the ones who were actually wrong. This has been quite a dilemma for me as I try to unlearn 25 years of incorrect usage.

What about you? Do you have any phrases that throw you off? How do you adjust for that in a manuscript?

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure I have words or phrases that I use incorrectly but I can't think of any right now, fortunately.

    Personally I've never understood the whole soda vs pop thing. It's not as if you don't understand what they're talking about. Why is it such a big deal if they say the other word? Some people are very attached to their slang.