What are you trying to say?

About the site title …

How often have you heard someone say, “In my humble opinion” followed by a statement (or discourse) that’s anything but humble?  Don’t expect humility here.  Don’t expect arrogance either.  My thoughts and opinions are simply that … my thoughts and opinions.  You’re free to decide whether or not you agree with any, all, or none of them.  What’s important to each of us is that we think rather than react.  Chemicals react.  Living things move beyond that.

ISMs

FI ISMs 100

When Donald Trump first proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States, some politicians and some reporters called the act “racist”.

The original wording of Donald’s proposal was broad in scope. (He has since fine-tuned the proposal.) The original proposal included more than 20% of the world’s population but, it was not racist; it was religionist. Similarly, Donald’s statements about Mexicans are not racist; they are nationalist.

Here’s a list of ISMs:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:English_words_suffixed_with_-ism

The list may help us to accurately denigrate each other.

Therein lies the deeper problem with ISMs. Naming something … even naming it accurately … doesn’t change it. The more common negatively-charged ISMs … racism, sexism, fanaticism, religionism, etc. … are usually the result of concepts formed using faulty logic. For example, it’s likely that some of the people crossing our southern border illegally are “bringing drugs”,  “bringing crime”, and “rapists” … but, that doesn’t mean that all (or even most) of them are doing so. Illegal immigration is a problem, but drugs, crime, and rape aren’t the whole problem or even most of the problem.

Calling a statement a whatever-ism does not solve the whatever problem. At best, it ignores the problem. At worst, it exacerbates the problem.

I really could care less.

Animals 0821 100

I couldn’t care less what you “could care less” about.  If you could care less, you must have some remaining … albeit small … level of concern.  Let me know that concern.  If you don’t care at all, say so.  Use the negative.  Without the “could not” or “couldn’t”, you’re demonstrating your ignorance.

When to use Utilize …

What does “to utilize” mean?  I know of no other definition than “to use”.  Substituting “utilize” for “use” doesn’t make you seem  more intelligent.  It makes you seem like someone who is trying to impress someone or confuse the issue.  I’m not impressed.  I don’t mind made up words … if there’s a reason for them, but “utilize” serves no useful purpose.

I saw what you have seen.

I’m surprised how often I hear someone on TV say, “I seen”.  I hear this most often in local news broadcasts.  A newsperson asks an eyewitness to some local event to describe what happened.  The person being interviewed says, “I seen this” or “I seen that”.  I know English is a difficult language, but if it’s the language you learned as a child, you must have heard the word “saw” being used as the past tense of “to see”. This seems to be a relatively recent development.  A few decades ago, saying “I seen” would have branded you as someone with little or no education.  Even without a formal education, you would have heard “saw” used as the past tense of “see” more often than “seen”. “To see” is an irregular verb.   The past and past participle forms of regular verbs are the same word.  For irregular verbs, the past and past participle forms are different words.  If the error is a misapplication of the regular verb rule, why would multiple speakers so consistently choose, “I seen” and “I have seen”?  Wouldn’t some use “I saw” and “I have saw”? Why does the spelling and grammar checker for this site flag “I have saw” while ignoring “I seen”?  I would have assumed that application programmers are educated people.  Is that assumption wishful thinking?

It’s not very unique.

How often have you heard something described as very unique … in the news, on talk shows, even in print?  Do you know that’s nonsense?  Unique means one of a kind.  There cannot be degrees of “uniqueness.  Something is either unique or it isn’t.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/unique

The prefix “uni-” means “one”.  There’s one Universe; one horn on a Unicorn; a Union is United; something Uniform is the same throughout; … and the programming language Unix is misnamed.

Is your food healthy?

If you are eating things alive, your food may be healthy … briefly.  If you’re like most of us, your food is either dead or, in the case of unprocessed plants, dying.  If what you eat is good for you, it’s healthful.  When you eat it, you become more healthy.  Healthy means having good health.  Healthful means producing or beneficial to good health.

We need less use of less and more use of fewer.

I’ve almost given up on this one.  So many who should know better and set an example for the rest of us … like some well-known network news people … mess it up regularly.  Sigh! Both fewer and less are the opposite of more but, if you can … at least theoretically … count whatever it is, the correct word is fewer.  If it cannot be counted, use less.  For example, there are fewer grains of sand, but less sand.  Some things can’t come in “lesses”; some can’t come in “fewers”.  What are “less people”?  Are they in some way incomplete?  Can you have fewer air? Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, explains the distinction better than I can:

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/less-versus-fewer?page=all
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