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I no sooner published my first word rant and immediately more common travesties of language sprang to mind. Part two will be more of a rapid fire format, as there is a lot of ground to cover.

..And Get One Free!

As alluded to in Part 1’s final paragraph, ‘…and get one free’ tacked on the end of a sales pitch is marketing verbal violation at its worst. ‘Free’ means ‘at NO cost’. When advertisements use it, they mean ‘at no ADDITIONAL cost’. This a huge and very important distinction. “If you pay $, you get x and a FREE y” is incoherent as getting the “free” y is dependent on you paying $. I have no idea what there hasn’t been a massive class action suit against all major corporations for false advertising.

May Or May Not…

‘May’ and ‘may not’, when used like this, mean the same thing: that the outcome under discussion is not certain. It is redundancy with no extra information. It is fluffy language without even the ignoble goal of sounding unduly reputable. I’m not saying the two terms are always perfectly interchangeable. Rather, in the cases where they are, one is sufficient while both is a waste of words.

Swearing

Words are tools, and when one hears a swear word used exquisitely, it’s like watching a master carpenter strike in a nail with one blow without the tiniest dent left on the surrounding material. It can be magical. Unfortunately, most people have no grasp on the art of swearing at all. Its more like watching the spazoid kid in shop class rain hammering death on a 2×4 until the bent and twisted nail is lodged sideways in the now mangled lumber.

Literally

‘Literally’ does not mean ‘a lot’ or ‘extremely’ or ‘I’m not joking even though this is an unbelievable story’ or any variation or combination of these. Not even close. Literal is the opposite of figurative. That’s it.
‘I pissed myself laughing’ means a)figuratively ‘I laughed a lot’ b)literally ‘my laughter was so great that I lost control of my bladder and urinated into my pants’.
Note that one could have laughed more in situation A than in B. ‘Literally’ has nothing to do with quantity, seriousness, or truthfulness. It dispels any notion of metaphor and hyperbole and instructs the listener to interpret the words plainly.

Supposably

This one isn’t even caught by my spell checker. I am so depressed. ‘Supposably’ is NOT a word. What you are looking for is ‘supposedly’. To test it out, look at the root word in each case. ‘Supposed’. Yup, that’s a word. “The supposed “good guy” just robbed a bank”. Now try ‘supposable’. Nope, definitely not a word.

Irregardless

Another one that just isn’t a word. I don’t know how this started, but I’ve heard some otherwise brilliant people use this horribly stupid non-word. It makes me sad on the inside. ‘Regardless’ means without regard. Putting another negating prefix ‘ir’ in front would be like a double negative in math, they would cancel out. ‘Irregardless’ would be as intelligent as Bill & Ted’s “un-un-heinous”, if people actually meant it that way. But users of ‘irregardless’ don’t mean it that way. They use it as if the ‘ir’ accentuates the ‘less’, so they’re actually being even dumber than Bill and Ted. That’s impressive, and not in a good way.

No one is perfect, and one’s grasp of language should always be growing. Unfortunately, one of the pitfalls of being creatures of habit, people are not apt to realize their common mistakes, unless they are expressly pointed out to them. Please, if you know someone who uses fluffy language indiscriminately, throws out buzz jargon without thought, or continually says things that just don’t make sense, tell them. Or send them to this rant. Education and awareness are our best weapons to combat this plague of verbal misdeeds. Also, feel free to make additions to this word rant in the comments section. Together we can save language!

…Or at least fend off its impending doom a little bit.

–Addendum–

A couple of recent encounters reminded me, quite painfully, of one more common and egregious misuse of language

Seen

‘Seen’ requires another verb used in conjunction with it to be used properly. I have seen many strange things. This is what will be seen today. It is never allowed to be used as just a regular past tense of ‘to see’.

“I seen a movie last night.”

NO NO NO! You did NOT ‘seen’ a movie! You saw a movie last night! Now go sit in the corner and think about what you have said! You can come back when you can conjugate ‘to see’ properly.

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