Tag Archives: New Oxford Dictionary of English

Criteria for Plural Phenomenon : Pedantique-Ryter rants

  1. Beware the Apostrofly! says Pedantique-Ryter
  2. Pedantique-Ryter: English Daftisms
  3. Pedantique-Ryter: who or whom?
  4. Pedantique-Ryter: may or might?
  5. Pedantique-Ryter: Exclamation Marks Shriek
  6. Pedantique-Ryter: Less is More. Or Is It Fewer?
  7. Halloween imports we could do without? A Damely rant
  8. Pedantique-Ryter : Between You and I? Better than me?
  9. Right word : wrong place? Pedantique-Ryter rants
  10. Pedantique-Ryter : changing meanings, right and wrong
  11. Pedantique-Ryter: Could Have or Could Of?
  12. Pedantique-Ryter rants about incomprehensible words
  13. Incoherent English : a Pedantique-Ryter Rant
  14. Criteria for Plural Phenomenon : Pedantique-Ryter rants
  15. Clarity : Language Use and Misuse : Pedantique-Ryter rants

The other week, when I was reading the news online — I do occasionally use the internet, in case you were wondering — I came across an advert from a major UK bank. It may be one of the largest in the world, but it certainly is not the most educated. crime scene tapeThe HSBC advert (for it was they!) said, roughly:

The criteria for our offer is X…

Not an exact quote, but the subject of the sentence was the word “criteria” and the verb was definitely “is”.  And I decided, on the spot, that I could never, ever bank with HSBC.

oops! key on keyboardEven the authors in the Libertà hive know better.
I mentioned it to dear Sophie on the telephone and I could hear her teeth grinding.
Quite right, too.

Sophie knew better. Why didn’t #hsbc ?

Criteria? Singular or Plural?

Continue reading

Mnemonics: spelling and those dreaded lists

exclamation mark in fire; just right for mnemonicsMnemonics for spelling

Mnemonics, as a word, is no advert for English spelling. And English spelling most certainly needs help. What’s the point of that silent M at the start? (Blame the Greeks. Their spelling isn’t easy either.)

English spelling (and pronunciation) may well be the world’s worst. How many students, trying to learn English as a foreign language, have been flummoxed by:
through, thorough, cough, enough, hiccough, sough, dough?

I often have problems with words where changing the spelling changes the meaning: practise/practice and the like. The spellchecker is no help to me with that, of course.

My regular bugbear is affect/effect. I have to stop to work out which is correct when I’m writing.
The Oxford Dictionary tells me that affect and effect are quite different in meaning, though frequently confused. (A statement of the bleedin’ obvious?) Continue reading

Pedantique-Ryter : changing meanings, right and wrong

  1. Beware the Apostrofly! says Pedantique-Ryter
  2. Pedantique-Ryter: English Daftisms
  3. Pedantique-Ryter: who or whom?
  4. Pedantique-Ryter: may or might?
  5. Pedantique-Ryter: Exclamation Marks Shriek
  6. Pedantique-Ryter: Less is More. Or Is It Fewer?
  7. Halloween imports we could do without? A Damely rant
  8. Pedantique-Ryter : Between You and I? Better than me?
  9. Right word : wrong place? Pedantique-Ryter rants
  10. Pedantique-Ryter : changing meanings, right and wrong
  11. Pedantique-Ryter: Could Have or Could Of?
  12. Pedantique-Ryter rants about incomprehensible words
  13. Incoherent English : a Pedantique-Ryter Rant
  14. Criteria for Plural Phenomenon : Pedantique-Ryter rants
  15. Clarity : Language Use and Misuse : Pedantique-Ryter rants

hand slicing through a stone question markEnglish usage is full of constantly changing meanings. How often do you yell at the radio or TV because some idiot presenter doesn’t know his (or her) English usage? How is it that educated people so often get fairly common words wrong?

English is a vibrant, living language and evolving all the time.

Not always changing for the better, in my pedantic view. But I know I am probably fighting a losing battle against sloppy English.

Changing meanings as words enter more common usage

Some words used to have very specific and precise meanings but have been misused so much that the original meaning has no traction any more.
So, if I say, “We underestimate the enormity of the decimation,” what do I mean? Continue reading

Right word : wrong place? Pedantique-Ryter rants

  1. Beware the Apostrofly! says Pedantique-Ryter
  2. Pedantique-Ryter: English Daftisms
  3. Pedantique-Ryter: who or whom?
  4. Pedantique-Ryter: may or might?
  5. Pedantique-Ryter: Exclamation Marks Shriek
  6. Pedantique-Ryter: Less is More. Or Is It Fewer?
  7. Halloween imports we could do without? A Damely rant
  8. Pedantique-Ryter : Between You and I? Better than me?
  9. Right word : wrong place? Pedantique-Ryter rants
  10. Pedantique-Ryter : changing meanings, right and wrong
  11. Pedantique-Ryter: Could Have or Could Of?
  12. Pedantique-Ryter rants about incomprehensible words
  13. Incoherent English : a Pedantique-Ryter Rant
  14. Criteria for Plural Phenomenon : Pedantique-Ryter rants
  15. Clarity : Language Use and Misuse : Pedantique-Ryter rants

stars with text Even Illustrious Organs can get words wrong

Even the most illustrious organs get word usage wrong some of the time

Torturous or Tortuous? Right word, wrong place?

Earlier this month, the Guardian included this quote in a piece on the Cambridge Analytica data enquiry:

Ravi Naik, a human rights lawyer with Irvine Thanvi Natas, the British solicitor who is leading the case, said the decision “totally vindicates David’s long battle to try and reclaim his data”. He added: “The company put him through such a torturous process over what should have been a very simple subject access request … “

question mark : which of a word pair to use?A torturous process? Is it really being suggested that Cambridge Analytica tortured David Carroll? Or was it a process full of twists and turns, excessively lengthy and complex?
In fact, a tortuous process?

Lots of writers confuse the two words, possibly because, in speech, it can be difficult to tell them apart. If the Guardian‘s quote was taken over the phone, it could be a mis-transcription. Or maybe it’s not wrong? Maybe the speaker did in fact mean that it was a process involving or causing torture?

Or perhaps — subversive thought — some of the increasingly common misuse of torturous arises because writers don’t know that two different words exist? Continue reading