Thursday, 12 July 2012

Stupid things that smart people say

We all do it.  Everyone has one thing that they always screw up when they say it.  In my case, it's "de-thaw".  I say it all the time and it makes no sense.  "Can you take the chicken out of the freezer to de-thaw?"  Yeah, "de-thawing" would be freezing.  For some reason I get caught between "Take it out to thaw" and "Take it out to defrost" and end up creating a new nonsensical word which ends up making everyone doubt my general intelligence.

It's not just me though, I've seen perfectly bright people misuse other words, probably the best example is "irregardless".  Yeah, the word is "regardless".

It's one of those things that I think comes with typing transcripts.  I spend a lot of time listening very intently to what people have said because I then have to reproduce it exactly.  I'll never forget the time that a coworker of mine, a very well respected lawyer, shot this beauty at a witness - "Well, that's a new relevation."  Um, I'm pretty sure the word is "revelation".  And then you're caught in the situation of do you fix the word, or leave it as it is and make them look like an idiot?

The point is, we're all the same.  It doesn't matter how long you've been in school or how smart people might think you are, I'll bet there's some word that you mess up all the time.  A famous one in my family, and one I've heard other people use is "lip chap" for chapstick.  Why would you want to rub something you seem to think is called "lip chap" on your chapped lips?  Doesn't make sense.

What about you?  What's the one word that trips you up consistently?  It is something that you totally screw up the meaning, or just something you can't pronounce quite right?  (Damn you, "rural", you get me every time!)

8 comments:

PMAC said...

Another great post Ashlie! I hate when people say "irregardless" too. Another annoying thing is pre before words that don't need it. Pre-heat, it's not really pre-heating, it's just heating! I could go on forever on that one.

ashlie said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets hung up on things like that! I never thought about pre-heat - you're right, it makes no sense!

serviceiscentral said...

magazine prescription. all the time. embarassing.

I think Irregardless is going to be "accepted" in no time because it's so common. already has a wikipedia article! so what if it's a double negative and doesn't make sense. English doesn't makes sense. neither does French

Jill said...

I have a phrase that I think gets messed up all the time. "I could care less" which I assume people mean "I couldn't care less" Maybe just me? lol

ashlie said...

I've heard that that's a regional thing - something like in England it's "I could care less" and here it's "I couldn't care less". I prefer "I couldn't care less" because it makes more sense, but that's just me. I used to think "For all intents and purposes" was "For all intensive purposes" too!

soon to be Great Aunt Jill said...

Yeah it definitely should be "I couldn't care less" (no matter where you live!) - because you have no interest at all. "I could care less" means there is some interest.

Dan Brown said...

I discuss this topic with my students. If you're interviewing a person, and they trip up, do you then "clean up" the quote so it makes sense in the paper?

I always use the example of Jean Chretien. As a journalist, do you really want to quote him accurately? Because then he'd sound very strange.

ashlie said...

It's a very fine line to walk, especially when you're dealing with JP's and respected lawyers in transcripts...sometimes there's no helping them though, and that's when (sic) comes in very handy!