Verbal ticks and burrs

Peter has an amusing post over at slow reads about a particular linguistic bugbear:

For my entire five-year teaching career, most students have addressed me as “Wait,” as in “Wait, do we need to write this in our sketchbooks?”

These little verbal tics just don’t bother me, and I offer sincere thanks to whichever deity is responsible for the fact. Because it could so easily have happened; I care about language and have copious supplies of pedantry. I should be a natural candidate for writing snippy letters to the Times about young people who say, like, whatever, and supermarket signs which mention ‘eight items or less’, but no, I just don’t care. Even the greengrocer’s apostrophe: meh.

And if perfectly innocuous colloquial language used by well-meaning people sets your teeth on edge, I can only assume you must walk around in a constant state of seething irritation. It must be like having someone following you around, standing just behind you and scraping their fingernails on a block of polystyrene. And we should save all that useful anger for something important, like stupid font choices.

My easy-going approach to language isn’t limitless. One thing that really, really winds me up is when people take it on themselves to correct what they perceive as my errors. The all-time winner being someone who, in apparent seriousness, told me that the ‘correct’ plural for octopus is octopodes. ‘Because it’s from Greek, not Latin’.

» apparently, if you do suffer from verbal ticks, there are special tools you can buy. Including a lasso.

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