Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.
How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.
If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 21st) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.
This was originally posted on February 21, 2014 in my old blog.
Peek, Peak, Pique
You may be wondering what a malapropism is. It’s the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance. For example, someone who is always upbeat might describe himself as being an “internal optimist,” when he means “eternal optimist.” Or a skillful, innovative person might be characterized as being very “remorseful” instead of “resourceful.”
No doubt at some point in your life, you’ve heard an otherwise intelligent and articulate individual misuse a word or a phrase, right? I know I have. In fact, not that long ago one of my co-workers used the word “irregardless” three or four times during a meeting with a prospective client.
“Irregardless” is what language aficionados call a “nonstandard” word, which is a polite way of saying that it’s not a real word. Yet, much to my annoyance, I hear people use “irregardless” all too often in place of more suitable — and actual — words like regardless or irrespective.
Each time this co-worker used that non-word, it was like he was scratching his fingernails along a chalkboard. (You remember chalkboards, right?) It sent shivers up and down my spine. It made my skin crawl. It was all I could do keep myself from jumping across the table, grabbing the guy by the throat, and screaming, “Stop saying ‘irregardless.’ That’s not a friggin’ word!” But I thought that might be a bit unprofessional of me.
Not only did he use the non-word irregardless over and over, he kept pronouncing the name of the city of Louisville, Kentucky, where our company has a service center, as Lewisville.
Everyone knows the name of that city is pronounced Lou-ee-ville, except, of course, to those who live in Louisville. They pronounce it Loo-ah-vul or sometimes just Loo-vul.
One time I heard a guy warn someone not to dilute himself, when he meant delude himself. This same guy used the phrase for all intensive purposes rather than for all intents and purposes.
Even presidents screw things up every once in a while. Remember George W. (“nucular”) Bush? Among his frequent malapropisms, one that stood out for me was when he discussed how the Democrats’ messaging was not resignating with the voters. Another classic Bushism: “We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile.” But as Bush, himself, pointed out, he was often misunderestimated.
And then there was the infamous Tweet from Sarah Palin during her 15 minutes of “going rogue” fame when she called upon Muslims to refudiate the building of a mosque near Ground Zero.
So why do I feel the need to bring this up? Well, I was inspired to do this because I was recently reminded of how common it is, even among business professionals, to misuse similar sounding words.
I came across these three email examples just this week.
“I knew your email would peak her attention!!!!”
Aside from exclamation mark overkill at the end of the sentence, I believe the correct word here should have been “pique,” and not “peak.”
Peak is a topmost point, such as a mountain peak. Peek is to take a glance or a quick look. Pique is to upset or excite someone.
Not that I’m a grammar Nazi or anything, but seriously, one does not “peak” one’s interest or attention.
“Do you have antidotal examples of where this saved the company money?”
I believe that she wasn’t searching for antidotes for saving money, but for some anecdotes, or stories, that illustrate how the company can save money. Unless, of course, we want to show how the company can save money by providing it with medicines or other remedies for counteracting the effects of poison, disease, etc.
“I just don’t want to push if it’s going to be for not.”
I can see where this is easily confused, but not for nothing, it’s not “for not,” it’s “for naught.”
Hey, we’re all only human, right? Each and every one of us has, at one time or another, selected the wrong word or mispronounced a word. So don’t dilute yourself into believing that, irregardless of how smart you think you are, you won’t occasionally screw up the English language.
After all, people sometimes misunderestimate their language skills, and that is something you just can’t refudiate. We must all learn to grin and bare it.
For all intensive purposes, anyway.