Trivia Teaser

The milk from WHAT animal is traditionally used to make authentic Italian mozzarella cheese?




By Miranda

Waiting in the doctor's surgery recently, as one does, I had recourse to the magazines, having forgotten to bring my own book and, frankly, being in no mood to concentrate. Oh... no criticism of the practice here - they do their best to run to schedule but they have to make time for the more seriously ill, and I've got no problem with that.

The magazine, however, was an eye-opener. It included a list of words and grammatical structures the use of which, according to this popular source, would make you look stupid.

I was appalled.

It condemned 'hopefully' in the sense of 'I am hopeful that' and 'impact' as a transitive verb.

How long do we have to wait?

'Hopefully', according to the OED has been used in the 'I'm hoping' sense for more than half a century and is demonstrably useful, else it would not have survived for so long.

And you know how I feel about 'impact'. Yes, I loathe it because while I was growing up conventional use saw the compound verb 'impact on' which, I gather, was being damned by purists at the time for the unforgiveable crime of deriving from commerce.

So during my lifetime 'impact on' has moved from business jargon, dropped the preposition and the phrasal form and become a transitive verb in the sense of 'affect' or 'have an effect on'.

And why not?

Back to the dictionary. The OED gently advises you to be careful in using these forms in a formal context, that is, if you're a student, in an essay to be marked by a teacher or academic who's a grammatical prescriptivist.

What annoys me most is the notion that using these forms marks a person as stupid. In fact, what it probably marks is an awareness of contemporary use of language and, yes, you need to balance that with a little judgement as to the context in which you use these forms, but... stupid? I think not.



13 Responses to


November 15, 2010 at 4:04 PM

The major problem there is that people tend to forget that language is a constantly changing medium. If it were not, we would probably still be speaking celtic or something like that. Even Latin would be a bit of a novelty.

willyum said:
November 15, 2010 at 8:37 PM

Hi, Miranda. Interesting comments and I can empathise with you.When I was in Grammar School back in the fifties I used to get very good marks in English Grammar and am still a bit fanatical about it these days. If,in one's self or(oneself,as it is commonly spelled,or is that spelt!?) you would like to an event take place or a situation arise I would say you would be hopeful.Hopefully,on the other hand usually crops up in conversations when a third party might ask you "Can you do so-and-so?" You could answer correctly "I am hopeful" or, to take a short cut,"Hopefully".English is a bastardised language and is getting more that way every-day with Americanisms and the like. What really gets up my nose and makes me cringe is the growing trend to use apostrophes as indications of plurals.You have all seen them,even journalists use them! Liesl Grimm suggested Latin. What a gruesome thought!!! That was a compulsory subject for two years when I was in Grammar, dropped it like a hot brick!! I also had to put up with five years of French.What for I don't know but I could speak French when I left school.Now I couldn't order a glass of Moselle even if I got to France! Cheers, Willyum

dj1 said:
November 16, 2010 at 10:58 AM

English is changing every day. I might not like a lot of the changes, but I know that all my ranting and raving is not going to make the slightest difference. I do feel though that a dictionary should be DEscriptive rather than PREscriptive - that is, it should decribe what is happening with the language rather than prescribe what it thinks SHOULD be happening!

November 16, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Good points dj1. I couldn't agree more.

relle said:
November 16, 2010 at 5:00 PM't agree today don't need to rely on the good old written English! So are we supposed to learn their SMS text? Will our children's children ever receive a hand written letter in their lifetime or acknowledge one! I don't think so!

bronski4 said:
November 16, 2010 at 7:20 PM

Hah..times are a changing people's...we gotta move with the times!

dj1 said:
November 16, 2010 at 10:11 PM

Relle, you miss the point. We don't let anarchy reign, but we teach the language as it is now. I think SMS is an aberration, but obviously millions don't, so my opinion doesn't count for much. We can play King Canute or we can give in gracefully.

relle said:
November 16, 2010 at 10:59 PM

Sorry DJ1..I'm now feeling sorry for our grandkids that will never see our past way of conversing..they don't have to do it any more!King Canute...tis a sad tribute!

Maggie10 said:
November 17, 2010 at 4:44 AM

Hate to be a purist but given that we are endorsing general knowledge as well as grammar - Willyum would need to have taken German not French at school if he wanted to order a glass of moselle at source.

crag43 said:
November 17, 2010 at 7:24 AM

I blame Shakespeare...

November 17, 2010 at 10:38 AM

Willyum will be okay with French or German. Moselle wine is produced in three countries along the Moselle (or Mosel) river: France, Luxembourg and Germany. See

November 18, 2010 at 11:37 AM

Unless I am misinformed, written messages on the mobile phones come free, or near enough that my grandchildren and their friends constantly have messages, and certainly all young people I see in the shops, streets, etc, constantly are holding a mobile phone and reading messages, even while walking. So written English remains, but in what form, I don't really know. Probably shortened. But then, so is our (20th century) English, compared with previous centuries.

willyum said:
November 18, 2010 at 8:28 PM

Thank You for picking me up on the Moselle bit Maggie 10 and thanks to CalypsoBelle for coming to my rescue!One could be forgiven for thinking that Moselle is a pure French wine.Check out the spelling.Not at all German one would think.As regards being a purist I am afraid that I am a bit inclined that way when it comes to the English language.As regards text messaging, it is only an abbreviating way of communicating and does save lots of time (and Telstra charges!). I text very often and use lots of abbs. but don't know a fraction of them. You try saying out loud some of the abbreviations which are on your 'phone.Reading them is o.k.,it is not another language as such.As regards the misuse of words in the Media I cannot agree more with whoever it was that brought it up.Impact is another of the words they use in the wrong context.They could use "effect" or "affect" depending upon the noun or the verbal sense.Why don't they use"Impinge" which in a general sense means a violent impact, not necessarily at right angles? Sounds a bit more gentle than "impact" does it not? Incidentally,another language which was compulsory for two years at my Alma Mater was Welsh! You try conjugating one of those verbs!!! Iechyd Dda for now(I think I spelled that right,If not I'm gonna be roasted by some Taffy soon!) Willyum