Malaprop Monday: Pledge of Allegiance

In continuance with last week’s patriotic theme, I though I would write about the Pledge of Allegiance. This might get messed up so much mainly because it has historically been recited by schoolchildren who don’t understand a lot of the big words contained in it.

Here is the correct text of the Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I’ve heard lots of Pledge of Allegiance malapropisms. Some which come to mind are “for Richard stands” instead of “for which it stands,” “invisible” instead of “indivisible,” and “with livery and justice” instead of “with liberty and justice.”

What are some incorrect recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance that you’ve heard?

Malaprop Monday: Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day!

People frequently get confused about the names of holidays, especially ones they aren’t familiar with. For example, Labor Day is often confused with Memorial Day. This could be because these two American holidays are the bookends of summer, or because each one is a 3 day weekend for most American workers.

The backgrounds of and reasons for celebrating the two holidays, however, are very different. Memorial Day, originally named Decoration Day, was established sometime after the Civil War as a day to remember all the people who died in service to the United States (source). Labor day, on the other hand, came out of the labor movement (when workers organized and formed unions). Labor day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers – so laborers, union members, those in public service and essentially everyone else who holds a job in this country (source).

Malaprop Monday: Jive

People often confuse the word “jive” for the word “jibe.” Unless you’re referring to a type of dance popularized in the 1920s, you probably want to use “jibe.” Following are definitions of each word:

Jibe: (intransitive verb) 1. to shift suddenly and forcibly from one side to the other —used of a fore-and-aft sail

2. to change a vessel’s course when sailing with the wind so that as the stern passes through the eye of the wind the boom swings to the opposite side

Jive: (noun) 1. informal language that includes many slang terms

2. deceptive or foolish talk

3. a type of fast lively music that was especially popular in the early part of the 20th century; also : a dance performed to this type of music

Source: Merriam-Webster

Tricky Tuesday: Using Spell Check

While a spell checking tool can be useful, it’s important not to rely on it too much. You’ve probably had plenty of those embarrassing instances when auto correct messes up your text messages. Similarly embarrassing situations can occur if you don’t carefully check your emails, Word documents, or other written work.

Yesterday I told you about my new Malaprop Monday series. In this series, I’ll talk about lots of malaprops that a spell check tool won’t catch – things like using vice instead of vise, wether instead of whether, or flaunt instead of flout. To catch this type of error, you need to do a careful, line-by-line proofread of your work. Spell check will never catch an incorrectly spelled word if the misspelling is an actual word with another meaning.

Another mistake spell check won’t catch is words omitted or added unintentionally. Sure, if the grammar of a sentence is wrong maybe you’ll get that green squiggly underline. But maybe you won’t, and I’ve seen Word’s editing tool underline sentences that were totally correct.

The third thing to watch out for with spell check: you know how you can make it “learn” a word? Be sure you know that word is correct before you add it to your spell checker’s vocabulary. And if it’s a name or something specific that wouldn’t appear in a dictionary, make sure you’re spelling it right before you add it.

Spell check can be helpful as a precursor to real editing, but never trust it with your writing – there’s no substitute for your own eyes (or an editor’s!). I once had a coworker who trusted spell check too much, and he would consistently use “are” in place of “our.” Lesson: don’t be like that.