We’ve reached the half-century mark of fifty columns and while I have been slaving away investigating all sorts of things one should or shouldn’t say it has become painfully obvious that there has been some slippage, some regression in the way the language is being used and abused.
So, here beginneth the lesson for this week. (That’s olde English)
Pundit-pundint: heard a discussion in the media recently referring to political experts and commentators as pundints. Wrong! The word is pundit. It’s a Hindi word that refers to a sage or guru, someone who is learned (pronounced learn-ed). So it’s about time the pundints got it right.
Vigil: Lately I’ve heard another error in pronunciation with the announcers who don’t know how to pronounce “vigil.” Too often I’ve been hearing the mangled word coming out sounding like vidjual. No extra syllables please, the word is simply vigil (pronounced vi-jil)
Good-well: I’ve long been on the side of good, and I hope that I’ve even done some good from time to time, but I do wish people would learn that doing good is not the same as doing well. If you are healthy, and things are going as they should, you are not doing good, you are doing well. I frequently hear the response to ‘how’s it going?’ as good! or it’s good! But it’s not correct. I’m likely not going to change this but I would at least like to know that those that transgress with it, at least know the difference. Are we good on that????
Subsidiary – subsiduary: Likely mispronounced by the same people who mess up vigual. Subsidiary means to assist or supplement. As subsidiary company, also known as a daughter company is one that is owned or controlled by another company. There is no such word as subsid-yew-aary. Nada! Just one of those things that sounded good at the time, but leaves you subsidiary to everyone else in the grammar department.
Prescription-perscription: This is the note you get from your doctor to present to your pharmacist to make you better, to make you well. The word is prescription because it is an instruction before you take the medication thus the prefix ‘pre.’ There is no such word as per-scription. It’s simply wrong, unless it’s a note from your cat’s vet to make it feel better in which case it should be spelled purrscription. Is that purrfectly clear?
Height-heighth: Here’s a word that is double trouble! Why they simply couldn’t have spelled it hight is beyond me – but hey – who said it had to make sense. If you swap out the ‘H’ for a ‘W’ the ‘ight’ part goes back to eight. Now the other problem here is that there is no “th” sound on the end. It’s likely the problem comes from the other measurements (designed to confuse you of course) width and depth.
Espresso-expresso: You may become very expressive if you have too much espresso coffee, but the proper word is espresso, deriving from the Italian word ‘to express the coffee by pressure – meaning ‘pressed out.’ There is some common meaning across Italian French and English but when you line up for your shot tomorrow morning, remember you can only express your desire for espresso. That should keep you awake until lunch time! Salute!