Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Okay, I don't deny it. I am a pedant. I am pedantic. Not obsessively so but enough that I can't deny it. I like the correct use of the English language. Now I am aware that language changes; that's part of its charm, that it evolves, adapting to the demands of changes in society on all levels: cultural, social, economic, technological. 

When I first heard the word proactive, I hated it. I considered it to be a synonym for active and, therefore, redundant. I was wrong. It is a useful word as it connotes more than the state of just being active.

On the other hand, I hate to go into a greengrocers (to be correct, I should actually write greengrocer's shop but this has become an accepted usage) because I see words like strawberry's and apple's and I can't bear to go on. Strawberry's in particular offends my sensitive nature because not only is it grammatically incorrect, it is also a spelling mistake. Seeing words like this makes me want to rush out of the shop and either scream aloud or bang my head against the nearest brick wall. Either that or commit a most grievous English social error of actually pointing out these mistakes to the shopworkers who would probably think I was a lunatic anyway.

My current and unabiding hate is directed at seemingly one of the most pervasive phrases in the English language and would appear to be used on television when anyone (particularly football managers) is being interviewed. The phrase is: at this moment in time.

You know why this is abhorrent but I'm going to spell it out anyway (metaphorically spell it out, though it will also be literally spelled out as I'm using words on a screen so how else could it be spelled, other than metaphorically, of course). A moment is a unit of time, once specific it now refers to a very brief period. A moment cannot, therefore, be anywhere else except in time. The in time is redundant and sounds stupid and intensely irritating (though this may be just me). At this moment I am typing. At this moment I am waiting to learn if I will go on holiday next week. At this moment I am awaiting the verdict on whether or not I am guilty of killing the last person I heard use the horrendously repugnant phrase 'at this moment in time'. See: it flows.

Also consider using: currrently, presently

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Greengrocers" may be acceptable to you; it is not acceptable to me. It's as wrong as placing the apostrophe in "strawberry's". When a word that needs an apostrophe is written without it, that's equal to putting one in a word that doesn't need one.

I once saw a gem on a shop notice - I think it was even a greengrocer's shop: "Thieve's will be prosecuted."

Too many of today's semi-literates seem to link the insertion of an apostrophe with the simple creation of a plural and conversely, they miss it out where it should be.

My recent hate has been "head butting" over the last few years. Before this superfluous nonsense, we used to have the correct term "butting." My dictionary says the verb BUTT means "To strike with the head". Therefore it's physically impossible to butt with anything other than the head.

We don't (yet) say "foot kicking", "fist punching" or "teeth biting", because each verb clearly defines the unique use of - respectively - the foot, fist and teeth. So why "head butting" for a verb that means only the use of the head?

There will be more... are we having a pedants' competition? Note where I placed the apostrophe in that sentence!