Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Correct Word (Is That A Pleonasm?)

    Most folks that know me well,  know how much I like visiting used book stores, and without fail, I  always find a unique, interesting book to buy. That's how it was when I recently stopped by Browser's Books in Coeur d Alene - it didn't take long for  one  to  grab my attention, almost as though the handsome  hard cover book was calling my name .

     The title ,  The Correct Word - How to Use It by Josephine Turck Baker was  published by Correct English Publications, Inc,  copyright 1938.  A table of contents is not included, but the opening page details all the reader needs to know about contents of this book :  The Correct Word and How to Use It; A Complete Alphabetical List of Everyday Errors in English. While the author does a wonderful job of highlighting the misuse of words, she does an  even  better job in showing readers how to use them properly. Because Baker includes so many words, and examples of how to use them, I'm sure I'll be studying The Correct Word   for a long time !

Here are a few of her listings :

Desire, Want, Wish, Need

     While desire and wish are interchangeably used in many instances to indicate the longing for something regarded as desirable, desire is used of that which is near at hand or in thought; wish, of that which is remote. Again, desire being a Latin derivative is not so simple a word as the Anglo-Saxon wish;  in consequence, desire is used more especially of the higher things or of those which are coveted. We desire wealth, distinction, honor, fame; we wish to visit a friend. Want is used of that which may be simply lacking or which may be lacking and necessary; need is used of that which is lacking and necessary. One may want a new garment, but may not need it. Want should not be interchangeably used with wish. One properly says, "I wish to see you," not "I want to see you."

    I must confess, this still confuses me some, as when I think of someone I haven't seen for a while, I not only wish to see them, but I want to see them, too.


Company at Dinner

    "Company at dinner",  not "Company for dinner" is the required form. Many persons err in saying, "We are going to have company for dinner", instead of "We are going to have company at dinner".

O.K. (This one I found fun !)

    The origin of O.K . is obscure, but it is said to have originated with Andrew Jackson, who used it as an abbreviation of "All Korrect". Usage varies in the writing of the past and participle forms of O.K. The usual forms are: O.K.'d or OK'd;; OK'ing. Grammatically considered , there is no past or perfect tense form of O.K. except as usage has established it. When written in full as a noun, O.K. is spelled  either okay or okeh, each being pronounced owe-kay'.  

  Such like

     "Such like", is a pleonasm; either such or like being redundant. In such sentences as, "We read novels and such like:, such is incorrectly used, "We read novels and the like", being the correct form.

     According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language  pleonasm is 1.  the use of more words than are required to express an idea; redundancy. 2. An instance of this. 3. A superfluous word or phrase.

     Listed here a some of the  superfluous words Baker includes in her book:

     They return back.
     They retreated back.
     Equally as good.
     He has got money.
     Connect these ideas together.
     They were united together.
     They ascended up the hill.
     A new beginner.

     And finally, my last example, Moments and Minutes:

     A moment is not a minute. A moment is a space of time incalculably or indefinitely small; a minute is a sixtieth part of an hour. One may say either, "I will come in a few moments", or "I will come in a few minutes", but in exact language the expressions are not identical in meaning.

     I'm quite sure this book in no longer in print, but if you are lucky enough to come across a copy I recommend you pick it up  as it's filled with interesting words, phrases, possessive proper nouns, possessive common nouns and more.  I can tell you, my copy of this  book won't be gathering dust on the shelf, but will be  used and referred to time and time again !




Jennifer Rova said...

What a great find! "They" say our English language is changing faster than ever due to the internet. It is becoming the choice for international business. As more people whose native language is other than English talk to each other, we will see the changes quickly as they modify or sometimes create words to communicate. Language is fascinating.

elizabethbrinton said...

I wish to congratulate you on this very interesting post.