Wednesday, August 23, 2017

This Week: More Language of Health Care on the Podcast + boost in the arm/shot in the arm

boost in the arm/shot in the arm
Early in the 20th century it used to be common for people feeling a bit run-down to go to the doctor to get injected with a stimulant. By 1916 this remedy had led to a saying according to which a positive stimulation of almost any kind could be called “a real shot in the arm.”
We still use this expression in a wide variety of ways. It can refer to an increase of business in a company, to a stimulus administered to the economy, to the hopes of a sports franchise or a politician running for office.

A simpler way of expressing the idea is to refer to a stimulus as a “boost.” Examples: “the flowers on my birthday gave my spirits a real boost,” “the large donation by the pharmaceutical company gave his campaign a major boost,” “the President is looking for ways to boost the economy.”
It’s easy to understand how these two expressions came to be confused with each other in the popular form “a boost in the arm.” After all, we go to the doctor for a booster shot. But the boost in this expression is a shove from underneath to raise the whole body, not a needle in the biceps. It makes more sense to stick with the traditional expression “a shot in the arm” or to simply use “boost.”


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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

This Week: The Language of Health Care on the Podcast + anecdote/antidote

anecdote/antidote
A humorist relates “anecdotes.” The doctor prescribes “antidotes” for children who have swallowed poison. Laughter may be the best medicine, but that’s no reason to confuse these two with each other.

 
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https://commonerrorspodcast.wordpress.com/

On the podcast this week, we discuss health care terms.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

This Week: Smart Talk on the Podcast + genius/brilliant + Paul Brians' latest blog post

genius/brilliant
In standard English “genius” is a noun, but not an adjective. In slang, people often say things like “Telling Mom your English teacher is requiring the class to get HBO was genius!” The standard way to say this is “was brilliant.”



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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

This Week: More Stupid Adjectives on the Podcast + gull/gall

gull/gall
“How could you have the nerve, the chutzpah, the effrontery, the unmitigated gall to claim you didn’t cheat because it was your girlfriend who copied from the Web when she wrote your paper for you?”

This sense of “gall” has nothing to do with seabirds, so don’t say “How could you have the gull?”



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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

This Week: Stupid Adjectives on the Podcast + French dip with au jus/French dip

French dip with au jus/French dip
This diner classic consists of sliced roast beef on a more or less firm bun, with a side dish of broth in which to dip it. Au jus means “with broth,” so adding “with” to “au jus” is redundant. In fancier restaurants, items are listed entirely in French with the English translation underneath:

TĂȘte de cochon avec ses tripes farcies
Pig’s head stuffed with tripe
Mixing the languages is hazardous if you don’t know what the original means. “With au jus broth” is also seen from time to time. People generally know what a French dip sandwich is, and they’ll see the broth when it comes. Why not just call it a “French dip”?


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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This Week: Oafs, Goofs, and Goons on the Podcast + ignorant/stupid

ignorant/stupid
A person can be ignorant (not knowing some fact or idea) without being stupid (incapable of learning because of a basic mental deficiency). And those who say, “That’s an ignorant idea,” when they mean “stupid idea” are expressing their own ignorance.


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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

This Week: More Insulting Language on the Podcast + disrespect

disrespect
The hip-hop subculture revived the use of “disrespect” as a verb. In the meaning “to have or show disrespect,” this usage has been long established, if unusual. However, the new street meaning of the term, ordinarily abbreviated to “dis,” is slightly but significantly different: to act disrespectfully or—more frequently—insultingly toward someone. In some neighborhoods “dissing” is defined as merely failing to show sufficient terror in the face of intimidation. In those neighborhoods, it is wise to know how the term is used; but an applicant for a job who complains about having been “disrespected” elsewhere is likely to incur further disrespect . . . and no job. Street slang has its uses, but this is one instance that has not become generally accepted.


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