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VSarkiss (704)

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I haven't really taken the time to set this up, but you can look at my home node [] on Perl Monks.

Journal of VSarkiss (704)

Friday June 13, 2003
04:15 PM

Word confusion bitching

[ #12799 ]

It's Friday, I'm entitled to bitch.

There are certain word confusion mistakes that bug me to no end. I just saw one in an LWN article, where the author wrote, "for all intensive purposes". It's "for all intents and purposes"; if you're going to write cliches, at least get them right! They may sound similar, but what the heck is an "intensive purpose"?

Other favorites:

  • "I could of" instead of "I could have". I see this one all too often.
  • "a doggy-dog world" instead of "a dog-eat-dog world". A doggy-dog world sounds mildly obscene.

Grumble, grumble.

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  • gav must have had you in mind :-) []
  • I heard a strange story on NPR last night about an exotic animals pet store that's sold prairie dogs that may have monkeypox. The interviewer asked the owner, "Have you had any returns?" That's a very specific question.

    The owner replied, "We had one customer return a prairie dog". That's a very specific answer, with one very specific customer in mind. She continued, "They had some questions about their..." at which point I started lamenting the state of English usage in this country.


    • Perhaps it was a husband and wife who came in. It was the wife who actually bought the prairie dog (i.e. "one customer", or perhaps the wife and husband lumped together as "one"), but they returned the prairie dog and both had questions (i.e. "they had some questions").
      • That would work. You should still feel guilty for spoiling a perfectly good rant, though.

    • Sorry, chromatic, but I have to concur with "the resident linguist" on this one.

      Singular they has over half a millenium of general acceptance in English literature, having in that time been used to good effect by such luminaries as Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, William Makepeace Thackeray, Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walt Whitman, George Bernard Shaw, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, R