Misused words that make me want to scream #1

27 May

Floor.

This word gives me countless headaches. To be more specific, people’s misuse of the word ‘floor’ give me countless headaches.

Why is it that people don’t seem to understand that the surface you walk on outdoors is the ground, whilst carpet, wood, lino, tiles and marble surfaces with a roof protecting them from the elements are all classified as flooring.

Dictionary.com defines floor as ‘that part of a room, hallway, or the like, that forms its lower enclosing surface and upon which one walks’. How hard is that to understand?

I’ve heard of people who mix up left and right (resulting in the hilarious mime where they have to hold up their two hands, Glee-style, to see which index finger/thumb combo forms the letter ‘L’). I’ve also come across people who have certain words they always confuse (accept and except, conscious and conscience, etc) and I’m not exempt from word confusion myself. My own tricky combo is exacerbate and exasperate.

Despite appearances, I’m not a wholly intolerant person. I’ll patiently explain the difference between these pairs of confusing words to students and friends who don’t mind me correcting them. But when I point out that a friend’s friend couldn’t possibly have fallen on the floor when he fell off his bike, I’m greeted with rolling eyes and a phrase I’ve grown to dislike: ‘Same difference.’ No, it’s not the same. He fell on the ground.

The thing is, the people who make this mistake are otherwise intelligent, articulate, well-read members of society. So why do they make this mistake? Is it for the same reasons that people confuse similar-sounding words? Or does it stem from laziness or some ignorant kindergarten teacher twenty-plus years ago who implanted this mistake without realising?

I don’t have the answers. All I know is that it bugs the hell out of me.

Edit: Looks like WordPress suffers from word confusion too…

Proofreading Fail

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Things I wish I’d said today

26 May

To the barista who was responsible for my first coffee fix of the day:

‘No, that is not okay. My horrified face should tell you this. Seven francs for a coffee is bad enough, but when I specifically asked if you spoke English, and you said you did, and then asked if you did iced coffees, I expected to receive… well, a damn good iced coffee. Not a cup of tepid filter coffee with a scoop of vanilla ice cream floating on top. So this is why you’re not getting a tip.’

To the girl sitting next to me on the airplane:

‘You don’t need to say ‘mmmm’ after every mouthful of sandwich. I already deduced your enjoyment from the loud munching and slurping noises you were making. And don’t expect me to catch your eye and smile back at you in complicity. Unless, of course, you want me to point out the mayonnaise in the corner of your mouth. And while we’re on the topic of things that disgust me, please be aware that by shoving my arm off our communal armrest, you made me lose my place in the book I was reading. Oh, and learn to wear deodorant. Your armpit is less than a foot from my nose.’

To her friend:

‘I don’t actually care about Kate Middleton’s teeth. I don’t know you, and I don’t read Hello. So when you thrust the open magazine under my nose, don’t expect me to respond. Incidentally, it’s a little ironic that you think she resembles a horse. Looked in the mirror recently?’

To the owner of the airport bus:

‘You asked people to support your flailing business by choosing your bus company over the competition. I have done this. Please reciprocate this kindness by turning up on time and in the right place.’

To the woman across the aisle on my bus:

‘Your baby’s noises are not cute. Yes, it’s wonderful that she’s found her voice, but when she continually screams, it hurts people’s ears. The fact that they’re “happy noises” does not make them pleasant. Furthermore, her full nappy is not endearing, nor is her ability to throw toys across the aisle. So excuse me for not returning your doting smile.’

Happy noises. Hooray!

To my dad:

‘That was the NICEST cup of tea I’ve ever drunk. Thank you for knowing exactly how I like it.’