Sunday, November 23, 2008

Linguistic Patrol Once Again

[Cue cheap ripoff of "Rat Patrol" theme music] Roaring over the hills of misapplied words, thundering through the vales of slaphappy phrasing, Ma Deuce blazing, the Linguistic Patrol is back in action....

     ...You just about have to be wearing the Patrol's newsprint off-white, pulp-paperback pale yellow and printer's-ink black camo to read a chilling report of one news photographer's treatment in Chicago and find yourself distracted by a comment suggesting the highly-trained  men, women and please-don't-tell-me of that teeming, highly advanced metropolis ought to "tow the line."
     Umm, no.  Tempting though it might be to set the most egregious offenders to hauling in the hawsers and anchor chains that keep the Windy City moored along the lake, a chancre fouling all Illinois,  if we'd like them to play by the rules we'd be better off getting them to "toe the line."  While I -- in my appalling ignorance -- had long had a mental image of military recruits lining up in rows, toes to the line (or the mark), the Wikipedia article shares an even more apt origin for the phrase.

     Another chilling wordwarp that has many of the Patrol reaching for their Sykes-Fairbairn and Ka-Bar knives is "hone in."  You could hone right in on that?
     No.  No you can't and no you don't.  You might hone your skills -- or your knife.  Or your gardening shears.  You home in on some selected goal, literally or figuratively.  Yes, you hear "hone in" often.  Tough.  It is still wrong.

     One last reminder: it's still "ask."  One might "axe" firewood, or, if Elizabeth Borden, possibly parents.  One asks questions.  Really.  Take it from a career mumbler.

     English is a moving target but there's no need to try attaching JATO units.


Jeffro said...

Irregardless, I seen you're drift.


Anonymous said...

For all intensive purposes, I really love the Linguistic Patrol posts.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

This post. The starship post.

You're on a roll, friend.

I sure hope I can make a blog bash someday. I want to shake your hand. A handshake only because prostrated worship at your feet, singing your hosanas ans shouting praises of your writings from a minaret might embarass you.

BobG said...

"One last reminder: it's still "ask.""

When I was younger, a variation I use to hear a lot in the same groups of the population who used 'axe' was 'ast'. Don't hear it as much now; I guess the language evolved a bit around here with the influx of newcomers.

Anonymous said...

It had never occurred to me that the way to a mans' heart is through his ears.
I learn something new every day.

Drang said...

You must remember to orientate yourself.

Alas, Firefox's spellchecker thinks "orientate" is a word.

Word: atortuf. I used to know a Sergeant Ator. He didn't seem all that tough to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm often tempted to send the local on-air personalities a box of adverbs, but I know they'd just be used as door stops. Along with the grammar text I'm not wasting on them. Pearls. Swines. Meh.

WV: famistat - A device used to maintain an even level of fame?
Or famishment?

Anonymous said...

What they said- You're right, English IS a living language, but I think it's dying. Well, not really, but it isn't getting any better. The local paper had an article about 'bailing' hay. I guess the wire could be a bail (handle) on a bale... Spellcheck doesn't differentiate between your, you're, and yore, and most people don't know the difference. Hell, spellcheck tells me I don't know how to spell my name even though there are two acceptable spellings.

Btw, Mr. Drang, was that Sgt. Ater or Sgt. Ator? I'm interested because that's my patronym.

I do want to make a blogmeet just to meet some really cool lady shooters and those that read them.

Roberta X said...

Well, remember that picking up the check is always an acceptable form or worship! ;)

Y'all're makin' me blush.

Roberta X said...

PS: You do know about James J. Kilpatrick, right? His is more of a court than a search & mock mission, but still: wotta guy!

Anonymous said...

Ah, but then we'd lose the sign along I-90 in South Dakota:

"Toe Service"

I can't tell you how many times we've passed that on the way from the great Minnesnowta flatlands to Wyoming and MT, but we laugh every time we go by. And there are TWO of them!

(Does kind of make you wonder exactly WHAT they're servicing on those toes, eh?)

Anonymous said...

And while we're at it, when did the past tense of "plead" become "pleaded" instead of "pled"? (Our politicians do that a lot here."

And why wasn't I consulted?

And finally, for the record, I will never willingly say "on tomorrow".