Fun With The English Manglage

bush_book-320x235DISCLAIMER: I am a total mangler.

Words are funny things. I think about words a lot, and often mangle them for my own amusement. I think about how they could be better chosen and arranged with respect for the person you are tossing them to, like if you choose to end a phone call with, “Let me go”, which might make the person think they are holding you against your will to the extent that you must order your own release, rather than dragging out more syllables as in, “Gosh, it’s been nice speaking to you. Let’s chat again soon”, which would just as easily signal the end of the conversation.  “Just a spoonful of syllables makes the sentiment go down…” <–Ok! Zzzzzzzzzzip! Enough from The Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. Quoting from that is something I did in the 90s (makes washing of hands gesture).

hairy-chestThen there’s all the everyday mismanglings, as opposed to purposeful manglings, like saying eXpresso rather than eSpresso and my fave – escapegoat. And of course misused phrases like, “for all intensive purposes” rather than the original “for all intents and purposes” (makes throwing up of hands gesture).

Just yesterday driving in my car I heard on the radio a public service message from the National Association of Real-it-TORS. Odd that, I had always thought that was a two syllable word. I once worked with a woman who, in describing an admonishment to her boyfriend, said, “You’re walking on thin water, buddy.” I think that’s my fave (bemused reminiscent gestures).

This manglage/origin/word inexplicability thing came up last night at dinner when we were discussing that Wizardess of Ensocellement“, Anaïs Nin, who used the word ‘ensorcelled’ in every writing because she saw herself as a bewitching seductress, which is relevant to this post, but not much really (irrelevant hand gestures).

Anyway, this came up because I had heard on NPR or some such station a story of the origin of “eavesdropping” and how…, “In the old days, most roofs were slanted. The “eaves” are the lower edges of the roof that project beyond the walls of the house; their purpose is to throw off the rainwater that falls on the roof. The “eavesdrop” was the word used to refer to the place around the house where the water from the eaves dripped.

mugshotAn “eavesdropper” was therefore someone who stood in the eavesdrop area outside the house and listened to the conversations taking place inside” [SOURCE] Actually I think that makes the person the “Eavesdropee” but whatever, (confusion hand gestures?).

Anyanyway, I thought of all of this and even more today because I found this post —>

Oxford Researchers List Top 10 Most Annoying Phrases
By John Scott Lewinski

Not all University of Oxford researchers are uptight and humorless, “irregardless” of what you might think. In fact, a bunch of them compiled a list of the Top 10 Most Irritating Expressions in the English language — just because we needed one.

Though maybe “you could care less,” the scholars in question keep track of linguistic mangling and overused buzzwords in a database called the Oxford University Corpus. The voluminous record keeps track of books, magazines, broadcast, online media and other sources, watching for new overused, tiresome phrases and retiring those that fade from use (or misuse).

The great hierarchy of verbal fatigue includes:

1 – At the end of the day
2 – Fairly unique
3 – I personally
4 – At this moment in time
5 – With all due respect
6 – Absolutely
7 – It’s a nightmare
8 – Shouldn’t of
9 – 24/7
10 – It’s not rocket science
In the comments section people suggest adding, “literally” which is quite often misused, or, “ironic”, when the incident described is really just coincidental, and so on.

Colorful abstract fruit drinkOne commenter dragged out that old, “think outside the box” bit of juicy wisdom which of course got me thinking about an old job back in the “real world” and a funny incident involving a gold chain-wearing, hairy chested (how can you not notice when the shirt is unbuttoned to the 5th button?) former travel agent, now (then) ‘executive’ in the big real corporate travel world, who used to say “we need to think outside the box” and other such things. And who was impatient with our whole web design department because we wouldn’t use animated gifs and 3D effects like chrome edges and the like. Because he had only recently discovered this interweb thing he was excited by the shiny whistles and bells one could have and disappointed by the “flatness” of the sites we designed. He was mesmerized by shiny things, including his gold chains. We tragically failed him and incurred his wrath by not blinging out the site (shielding of eyes from shiny bling and hairy chest gestures).

discoballmanHe did not understand the analogy of such things to 80s clothing and hairstyles because he still embraced them. Dude also did not understand the intricacies of email because he once hilariously sent off an exasperated email about not getting these whistles and bells to a colleague and accidentally included half of our office so we could all see his, “Mo should be sent to a deserted island” comment”. Fortunately emails, unlike stationary, cannot be scented with Ralph Lauren Polo Club. When he next visited our Boston office (from his office in Long Island) trailing fragrance and shiny reflections, I had a sign on my office door that read, “Mo’s Deserted Island” yet sadly without chrome edges (haha ironic gestures).

Somewhere I suspect he is even now thinking outside that box, irregardless of the failure of the rest of the world to keep up with him, and is probably having an ironic vacation at Club Med Cancun complete with fruity High fructose Corn Syrup and rum drinks laden with macho little umbrellas, amid ponderings of rocket science and nucular war. Those were supposably the days, for all intensive purposes. I can still smell the Polo Club (ewww gestures).

2 Responses to “Fun With The English Manglage”

  1. I love you, Mo. Do you know Eric?


  2. Thanks for the belly laugh. When I make boo-boos like that, please put me on the deserted island. Better yet, how about putting me on a deSSerted one? Mm. Much better, no? xxoo

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