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Word Peeves

It brings me joy to be precise in my use of language, especially in English, which admits of more nuance than many modern languages.
Correspondingly, it grates on me when others are sloppy in their use of language.

Here are a few examples of things that set me off. And yes, these examples sentence fragments.
  • Applying intensifiers or degree-adverbs to non-gradable adjectives. Something cannot be “so unique” nor “most optimal.”
  • Using “share” to mean anything other than “partition.” When we share a pie, we each get a fraction. No one gets the whole pie, because that’s what sharing means. When you “share [sic] information,” we each get a complete copy of the information. Prefer tell—it saves a word, and is correct.
  • Careless mislocutions such as for all intensive purposes, trying a different tact, it’s a doggy-dog world, and so on.
  • Needless double negatives such as irregardless. Although Webster’s (and others) define it as a synonym of regardless and attest it as far back as 1795 (along with, amazingly, irrelentless), they also call it out as nonstandard usage. And it just grates. Similarly orientate(d) for orient(ed). 
  • Careless overloading of a word with an established meaning.
    • Example: research. When the CDC spends $6 billion per year discovering new scientific knowledge through controlled, repeatable, double-blind experiments and deep review of the literature, that is research. When you spend an hour Googling whether there are essential oils that stop COVID-19, that’s not research, that’s wasted time that endangers us both.
    • Example: theory. When Einstein reframed classical mechanics as relativity using both the tools of mathematics and the empirical results of Michelson and Morley, he contributed a theory. It is subject to verification, falsifiable, and consistent with prior observational data. When you spout that COVID-19 is a conspiracy of the deep state, that is not a theory. It is (groundless) speculation. When you cite the lack of reported evidence as proof of the conspiracy, you further remove your speculation from the realm of theory.


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