The English language is a constantly evolving entity, whether we like it or not.
The English language is a constantly evolving entity, whether we like it or not. Tony Martin

Gaol vs jail and other arguments over the English language

RECENTLY The Northern Star did a story on whether or not people who drive through floodwaters should go to jail.

When posted on Facebook the story got plenty of comments but not necessarily for the original content.

A big point of contention is we had used the spelling J-A-I-L rather than the English version G-A-O-L.

That got us thinking about words, phrases, sayings that annoy us.

While language is an ever evolving entity, some paths it takes can rankle more than serve those of us who love the English language.

Here is a list of words and phrases we love to hate.

1. Gaol vs Jail

We may as well start with the inspiration for this list.

Those with a good grasp of the English language and a 'not so steady' diet of American movies and sitcoms reject any Americanisms slipping into the Aussie version of the English language.

"Try the Queens English for a change !!...It`s GAOL not Jail !!!" Craig Milne directed us on our Facebook page.

Perhaps we will take the advice of Rick Murray who also posted.

" I just say 'prison' now; saves all the silly arguments."

2. Maths vs Math

Another Americanism which can cause plenty of debate between the generations.

Correct me if I'm wrong but when spelt out in full, it is mathematics - plural.

I'm not sure where it becomes singular when shortened but plenty of Millenials will tell you that it does.

If you shorten statistics, does it become stat or stats?

3. Soccer vs Football

Great division here between those who love the round ball and those who love whatever shape the rugby league/union/afl ball is.

I know of one junior soccer/football coach who makes his kids do push-ups if they call it soccer.

The logic behind the English football argument is, you have to kick it with your foot, so therefore....

The rugby league/union/afl argument is, that is what it has always been called.

I feel this is one argument that will never die as long as football (whatever shape) is around.

4. Could of vs could have

That also goes for would of or should of. Now, when did this slip in?

Is it a laziness that doesn't want to type or write two extra letters?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the error was recorded as early as 1837.

Possibly the contraction could've from could have, makes it sound like it should be could of.

But it shouldn't....ever.

5. Wrong spellings used at wrong time

Well, there are so many of these old chestnuts it's hard to know where to start.

Here are a few:

  • There, their, they're
  • thorough, through, thought
  • here, hear
  • where, were
  • his, he's

I am sure you can share examples of your own.

6. Overusing the word 'like'

Like, I am not sure this is, like, such an issue, but it does, like, really annoy plenty of people.

I like that people don't like, this quirk in our, like, language.

Some things can just be over-liked.

7. Jargon and business-speak in everyday language.

If you sat in our news-room for a day, I'm sure you'd hear plenty of phrases that make absolutely no sense outside The Northern Star walls.

Every industry and business has them, but do they need to seep outside the bounds from where they originated?

A couple of examples I found:

  • Key learnings or takeaways = lessons
  • I'll action that = I will do it
  • To be across a topic = to know about something

8. The brave, new world of social media acronyms

You know them. You've probably used them. They are taking over our English language and they aren't going to stop.

Here are some favourites (or not so favourite):

LOL = laugh out loud

BRB = Be right back

HTH = Hope that helps

MTFBWY = May the force be with you

Again, feel free to share your own.