EFL: English As A First Language

I’m always going on about how glad I am that I learned English from the ground up. I can’t fathom the difficulty one must face trying to learn our sloppy, fickle, inconsistent tongue when one comes from, say, Poland or Mexico or Saturn.

To that end, I’m adding a new category to Hollywoodland. WORDZ will be the category where I dump the posts that marvel at the English language, that point out oddities of usage and that make fun of the malapropisms that riddle everyday usage. In short, it’s a place for me to flex my word snobbery.

I apologize in advance.

But here’s an example, taken from something I read in Gourmet Magazine last week.

Bob claimed that he was cleaning his gun when it accidentally went off. But his story didn’t jive with the autopsy report, which stated the victim’s body was riddled with forty-two bullet holes.

Jibe. The word is JIBE. I can’t tell you how often I see people use the word JIVE when they mean JIBE. I know it sounds weird, and I can understand why people go the jive-way, but look it up.

It’s also a sailing term, but it means something different. In sailing, to jibe is to shift the direction of the sailboat such that the boom swings from one side to the next, usually coldcocking someone and sending him into the drink, whereupon he is eaten by sharks.

About the author: will

4 comments to “EFL: English As A First Language”

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  1. Jodi (enthusiastically) - July 2, 2006 at 11:00 am Reply

    I love the new category! You may enjoy a weekly podcast about language called The Word Nerds. It’s one of the few I regularly download.

  2. Will - July 2, 2006 at 8:01 pm Reply

    Thanks for the heads-up! I’ll check it out ASAP!

  3. tony - July 8, 2006 at 1:53 am Reply

    in true geek fashion i am super excited about wordz. reminds me of that kcrw quiz show, “says you!”

  4. hope - September 6, 2006 at 11:25 am Reply

    This is thrilling–your grammatically correct voice in this wilderness is music to my ears! As someone who would be gratified if people would just stop modifying “unique,” I find myself in the awkward position of listening to native speakers of English butchering their language. To correct or not to correct?–usually, for the sake of friendship, I bite my tongue. The thing that really gets to me, though, is the number of so-called writers in this town who don’t have a decent command of English. One of them recently said “indigenous” when he clearly meant “indigent,” but I politely said nothing–probably because we were in bed at the time. It does make one wonder what happened to the educational system in this country. Do soldier on….

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