WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Consider This By Fred Fiske: Language

Play associated audio

Perhaps one of the reasons for the degradation of our language is that much of cable news is live and it comes over the airways unedited. But I shudder at all the mistakes I hear daily, and I'm saddened that my grandchildren have such poor examples.

Just to name a few that occurred in one day of critical listen: the word unique means one of a kind. There are no levels of unique. There's no comparative for unique. Nothing is more unique, although it may be more unusual. And it seems that few people know the difference between "among" and "between." Among indicates three or more. Between can only be between two. And while we're at it, "between" always takes the objective voice.

I heard a Mitt Romney supporter calling for a debate between he and Michele Bachmann. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's "between you and me, between you and him, between us and them," never "between you and I," never "between she and I."

And the inability to use the word "he" and "him," when the antecedent is one person, is feminism gone crazy. Every teacher must buy a dictionary for their class.

If the speaker is so worried about using the word "his," then let that speaker say "his" or "hers," but you don't pluralize the pronoun in order to avoid saying "him" or "her." I've given up on such subtleties as "none is." "None," really a contraction for "no one," takes a singular verb, but I've heard "none are" for so long that I've surrendered.

And lastly, I'm amazed at the number of people who seem to have problems. However, I'm delighted that neither my wife, nor I has added to their problems.

I'm relieved when upon thanking the waiter for filling my water glass, he responds, "No problem." I was really concerned that asking for a refill would create a problem. And when he brings me my meal, and I say "thank you," I'm glad that I have not further burdened him because he says, "No problem." How reassuring it would have been had he said, "You're welcome."

NPR

Poetry Behind Bars: The Lines That Save Lives — Sometimes Literally

Words Unlocked, a poetry contest for juveniles in corrections, has drawn more than 1,000 entries. Its judge, Jimmy Santiago Baca, says it was a poetry book that helped him survive his own prison term.
NPR

When It Came To Food, Neanderthals Weren't Exactly Picky Eaters

During the Ice Age, it seems Neanderthals tended to chow down on whatever was most readily available. Early humans, on the other hand, maintained a consistent diet regardless of environmental changes.
NPR

Trump And Cruz Campaign At California GOP Convention

The remaining Republican presidential candidates have been making their case at the party's state convention. Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler explains the divisions on display among Republicans.
NPR

'The Guardian' Launches New Series Examining Online Abuse

A video was released this week where female sports journalists were read abusive online comments to their face. It's an issue that reaches far beyond that group, and The Guardian is taking it on in a series called "The Web We Want." NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with series editor Becky Gardiner and writer Nesrine Malik, who receives a lot of online abuse.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.