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  1. My pet peeves with pronunciation are many: nucular instead of nuclear, calvary instead of cavalry and so on. However, the worst misused word IMHO is "borrow". So many people say "He borrowed me some money" when they mean "He lent me some money". Borrow and lend. Two words. They mean different things. I do wish people would learn to use them. And my favourite mistake is "I could care less." They mean to say "I couldn't care less" and end up saying that they do, indeed, care. I will admit being rude and pompous because I generally thank them with a big smile and say that I'm very glad they care, pointing out their stupidity at the same time.
  2. The other common usage of exclamation marks is to show surprise or emphasise unexpected information: "I went a date with the guy and he brought his sister with him!" They are also commonly used to emphasise feelings: "Very annoying!" or "I was so upset!" Marketing copy over-uses exclamations as a method of attracting attention to whatever it is they're trying to say. (And I just saw this thread, where my remarks would have been more appropriate... oops!)
  3. The entire article is like that. I won't point anyone to it because that would be rude, but it's phenomenally difficult to read because you have to go through each sentence with a dictionary!
  4. I've always liked "halibut". I can't say it more than two or three times without laughing. Totally agree on "indubitably" as well: it makes me think of someone on television who always pronounced it in a funny way, though I can't remember who it was. "Anemometer" ranks high on my list as well. I can't help but pronounce it like I'm talking nonsense to a baby!
  5. Ooooh, some of my pet peeves: "Ultimate" used as "best" instead of "last" - "the ultimate racing game!" (oh, how I wish it was...). (Of course, "ultimate" can be the last in a series of consistently better things and therefore have the meaning "best", but you know what I mean here!). "Very unique", which is impossible. It is either unique or not. "Literally" (as mentioned above). "I could care less", which amuses me every time, since they really mean "I couldn't care less". I usually respond by saying "Good! In that case, you'll take care of the problem." "Everyday" when they should use "every day". The same goes for "anytime", "anyday", "everyway" and all other stupid concatenations. "Viral". In most cases, I wish it were viral... and deadly to the speaker. Most manager-speak makes me grind my teeth in annoyance, come to think of it. "Enormity", which means monstrous or passing all moral bounds. The dictionary has had to change to include the (for me) incorrect usage as "really big". I could go on and on, but I won't.
  6. As an editor, one of the things I find myself repeating to non-native writers is that small words are almost always better than big words. Many writers spend ages using a thesaurus to come up with "impressive" words for their work because they think small words make them look less educated or less professional. Not so! The most important part of any writing is "the three C's" - writing should be Clear, Concise and Correct. To achieve this, it is almost always better to use simple, common words than big, long, impressive words. Here's an example in part of a sentence from an article written by someone I used to work with: "... a more profound moral, physical, and emotional repudiation of economic growth as the supreme grail quest and only indicator of well-being." What? In my opinion, it is always better to stick with smaller, common words than to try to be clever and poetic. Nine times out of ten, your reader will appreciate the clarity. That's my opinion, anyway. What's yours?
  7. This is an interesting question because it touches on the area of "buzzwords" and "manager speak". As several other people have already said, you can use most normal language in the workplace... but you can also hear some very strange words. This is particularly true in companies with a certain type of management culture - competitive, leading-edge businesses are especially prone to linguistic idiocy (in my opinion). It's been a while since I was in the workplace (I work from home, freelance, and have done for several years) but I still remember the ridiculous things like "business ecosystem", "sustainability", "dynamic", "transformative change" and a huge list of other words and expressions that were abused and misused. There's one email I really wish I'd kept: it consisted of half a page of text using management terminology almost exclusively, but all it really said was "Great job! We had a really good year." It can be very hard to separate good office language from what I consider stupid word abuse. Some expressions that are very good for the office are things like: "my to-do list" - my list of things that I have to do today, this week or in some other time frame "critical path" - the things that absolutely must be done to achieve the goal "prioritise" - to put tasks in order, so that the most important are done first "FYI" - "for your information", something that may be helpful or important As you can see, business expressions are frequently normal expressions which have a specific meaning in the office.
  8. Far too many people use "oftentimes" in their writing - it's a horrible word that means nothing more than "often". It's like saying "sometimestimes" or "all the time times". Ugh!
  9. a) you teach your cat to understand "no" in a different language you mentally correct song lyrics and their "artistic" use of grammatically unsound sentences
  10. My fiancee is French, so I speak French at home almost all the time, even though she is fluent in English. Over the years, we've had some hilarious misunderstandings because of what the French call "faux amis" (false friends). These are words that sound the same in both languages but mean different things. For example, the French "sensible" means "sensitive". If I say my lady is "being sensible", I mean she's being reasonable... but she might understand something different. My favourite "oops" was when I used the word "support". In French, I said "Je te support", with the intent of meaning "I support you". Unfortunately, the French verb "supporter" means "to put up with"...! :speechless: Has anyone run into any other instances of false friends in their native language and English? I'd love to hear them!
  11. I'm English and both a writer and editor. My strengths are mostly on the editing side - spelling, punctuation and making sentences understandable. My biggest weaknesses are in character development and writing marketing materials (i.e. lying).
  12. I'm a fast reader - at least a page a minute, whatever I'm reading. My fiancee says I eat books, I go through so many and, indeed, I used to have to take two with me to work every day when there was a long train ride involved! I do have bad habits, though: I will skim over parts of a book when I get tired or when it's boring. I may also half-read the bits leading up to an exciting climax in a story because I want to get there quicker and find out what happens. I've learned to spot when I do that, though, and force myself to read everything. Oddly enough, I never used to be able to re-read books because I would always remember what happened, even years after the first read. As I am older and read a lot more now, I find that I can go back and enjoy books again and again, which is a very nice bonus!
  13. For me, it is impossible to give one rule that fits everything. If a novel is character-centric, it's more important to develop the characters than describe the action; if it's more of a YA action book, the characters are less important; if I'm reading poetry, it sucks regardless (not a poetry fan, hehe!). For non-fiction, the rules are again different. I think the important thing in any writing is to have a voice, to be clear and to lead the reader through whatever it is you're saying, preferably without making it obvious that you're leading them.
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