Monday, September 22, 2014

Misspeaks: A Plea for Safety from a Word-Geek Blogger Editor

The genesis of this post first appeared on a previous blog, bloomthink, on July 4, 2011.
I heard a TV personality on a morning show say she was going to "pre-warn" someone.

Really? A pre-warning is helpful? "I am pre-warning you. A man-eating lion is heading right for us. And in a few seconds I'm going to actually warn you. Wait for it!"

I think (hope) she had merely succumbed to a misspeak. Misspeaks are common, and they aren't so bad . . . unless you are a word-geek blogger editor! (Not that I will point out a misspeak unless it is in a piece I am editing, giving me professional license to make you hate me.)

How about "very unique"? If a thing is unique then it is unique. Period. There is no such thing as one unique person or thing being more unique than another unique person or thing. The word unique means one of a kind. Really. It does. A very unique anything is problematic.

Then there's "I could care less" when one means "I couldn't care less," meaning complete disinterest. If one says "I could care less," the intended insult just isn't there, is it?

Some refer to other people with the word that instead of with the word who. But a person is a who. Again, really. I want to always believe that . . . no matter who says it's not all that important anymore. Should I even talk about the difference between the words infer and imply? Or the validity of . . . ourself?

Misspeakers (those of you who are habitual about it), if you would just try . . . I am not completely innocent. I misspeak too. But please, take this pre-warning to heart: one day my dismay might burst forth and cause you to hurt me. You don't want that, do you? Sure, if I worked at it, I could care less. But I probably never will. (Did I not admit to being a word-geek blogger editor?)

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