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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Eat Your Cake and Have It, Too.

We all have pet peeves. I suppose it makes sense that many of mine center around language, verbiage and pronunciation.  There are some particularly offensive phrases kicking around these days.  What puzzles me is that I hear no other voices joining mine in expressing dismay. How did we arrive on the doorstep of a new world?  One in which our society has adopted the habit of turning nouns into verbs? To my mind, it is lazy and a form of cheating; someone that turns the words “to make a priority” into “prioritize” is lazy. Admittedly, the use of “prioritize” has grown so widespread that is in the dictionary.  Never-the-less, it does not go down easy with me. Nor does the use of “tasking” someone with a job.  Turning a task (noun) into tasking (verb) is just plain offensive. However, I heard on the news the other night that is exactly what President Obama has done; he has tasked V.P. Biden with looking at gun control laws.  
Another phrase that sets my teeth on edge is “these ones.” Are you kidding me? It is like pointing at something, then pointing at it again. I notice people under the age of 25 seem most likely to violate the rule of grammar I once learned almost half a century ago. The word “these” replaces a plural noun. It is simply redundant to say these ones. Now those ones, that is a horse of a different color.
The most jarring idiom I have heard of late is “I’m not lying to you.” This phrase is tacked on to the end of sentences, seemingly randomly as a space filler. What it does, however, it raise the notion that maybe the person is doing just that -- lying to me. I literally cringe when I have to bear the assault to a language I so love.  Why on earth bother to tell me a story or express your feelings, then negate it with “I’m not lyin’ to ya”?
An example might help.  Suzie says, “I couldn’t believe I saw her with James. She looked twenty years younger. I’m not lyin’ to ya.”  Really, is that necessary? 
Finally, a phrase that merited a lot of discussion over one family meal was “to have your cake and eat it, too.”  A twenty minute debate had us all convinced that the saying should, in fact, be “to eat your cake and have it, too.”  The notion that is being expressed is that someone wants to benefit from enjoying their cake and still reserve some for later.  When expressed as “to have your cake and eat it, too”, is senseless since, in fact, you have to have your cake before you can eat it.  For the adage to have merit, we decided it could only be expressed one way. We swore to uphold the movement to reverse that little bit of linguistic inaccuracy.  If, over the ensuing years, we manage to succeed, it will be as if we have been able “to eat our cake and have it, too.”

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