Monday, March 31, 2008

Common Errors in English.

A fun little website.

Some examples:

THE QUICK AND THE DEAD

The earliest meaning of the word “quick” in English is “alive.” When a baby was first felt to move in its mother’s womb it was considered to have come to life, and this moment was called “quickening.” This original meaning of the word “quick” has now died out except in the phrase “the quick and the dead,” kept alive by the King James translation of Acts 10:42, which speaks of Jesus as judge “of quick and dead,” but even more by the continued recitation of the Apostles’ Creed, which says of Jesus that “he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”


YEA/YEAH/YAY

“Yea” is a very old-fashioned formal way of saying “yes,” used mainly in voting. It’s the opposite of—and rhymes with—“nay.” When you want to write the common casual version of “yes,” the correct spelling is “yeah” (sounds like “yeh” ). When the third grade teacher announced a class trip to the zoo, we all yelled “yay!” (the opposite of “boo”!). That was back when I was only yay big.

People who use this phrase to imply that speed is involved—liveliness rather than aliveness—sometimes get credit for creating a clever pun but more often come off as ignorant.

1 comment:

Bob Hawkins said...

Also, "cut to the quick," cut through the outer layer of dead skin, into the living flesh.

My pet peeve: "comprised of". It's "composed of", or "comprises". Better to not use "comprise" at all. You can get along without it.