Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Very Candid Rant On My Pet Peeve Of The Day

There’s a radio commercial being played for a car company that starts out with a clever Oscar Wilde quote and then ends with the most insanely stupid adage I’ve ever heard. Apparently it’s a famous quote that’s been ascribed to many sports figures from Mohammad Ali to Babe Ruth to Dizzy Dean. Although most of the websites I looked up just called it an old Texas adage.

It goes like this… “It ain’t bragging, if you can do it.”

Uh… I may be pointing out the obvious here, but if you CAN DO IT, it’s STILL bragging. In fact to brag about something you pretty much have to be able to do it.

The Oxford American Dictionary defines it this way:
Brag: to talk boastfully : to boast about
And if we look up boast here’s what we find:
Boast: to declare one’s achievements, possessions, or abilities with indulgent pride and satisfaction.

There you see; to brag about something is to talk in a self-indulgent way about what you CAN do. A more linguistically accurate statement might be “it ain’t exaggerating, if you can do it.” Or better yet, “it ain’t bluffing, if you can do it.”

This bugs me because, there are kids out there listening to this dumbass commercial who are going to think that bragging is the same as bluffing. They are not going to pull out a dictionary and check. Trust me. I know. I tutored high school kids on the SAT verbal for years. Kids are lazy. They won’t look it up.

A perfect example is the word “candid.” It’s on every SAT. EVERY YEAR!!! And tons of kids get it wrong. Why? Because they immediately think of Candid Camera. They assume that because the “camera” was hidden that the word “candid” means hidden or secret. It happened with every single kid I ever tutored. And that’s exactly why the geniuses that write the SAT’s put it on the test – to trip up the kids who were too lazy to look it up.

When I tell them that “candid” means honest or truthful, they are totally shocked. I try to explain that the show was called “Candid Camera” because it was able to capture people’s honest reactions to bizarre situations when they think no one is looking. Now I don’t blame Candid Camera for this mass confusion amongst our nation’s youth. After all, the name DOES make sense, as long as you know what the word really means.

But that inane “bragging” adage just isn’t logical. It’s stupid. It redefines a word to practically mean the opposite of what its actual definition is.

Well, that’s what I get for being a writer. I’m way too sensitive about the abuse of words. (Unless I’m the one abusing them. In that case it’s art.)


Dex2177 said...

Ah, see, you've opened a can of worms here... you want to know my lingual pet peeve? "An History." It's been sweeping across NPR and the Canadian CBC like a cold virus in an elementary school. Last I heard, H isn't a vowel. It isn't even silent. If you said it was "an honest mistake" I could forgive you obviously because the H is silent. Saying an History is as stupid as saying An House. My guess is that this is the result of someone somewhere(my guess is... Oxford?) feeling snooty by trying to apply some rule of Latin to modern English and then everyone in the professional-english public broadcasting world adopts it in order to be able to correct their friends and try and look smart and yet... it still sounds like crap. I can only hope this one dies a quiet death.

Alright, I'm done. I won't even go into that newly invaded middle eastern country being called Eeerock more and more on NPR. Why do they do this? They hear English broadcasters saying "Irock" with an English accent and try to emulate it but unfortunately, because they aren't bright enough to discern the difference in the accents, they miss the mark almost humorously while they try to sound extra smart impersonating the English because after all, the the English are The English, right?... but we can go into the humorous attempts by the Extra-Britanical to be snooty by emulating the English upper-class another time ;-) .

Dex2177 said...

yea, I acknoledge the grammatical errors in my previous post and pray that the hand of God might move across the face of blogger and bring tidings of spell checking and comment editing to both the gentiles and chosen alike... and yea I also acknowledge that I'm really full of it today, lol.

Girl With An Alibi said...

I feel your pain. Oh and guess what my other pet peeve is! It's when I write "Guess what!" and some genius tries to tell me that I need to put a question mark at the end instead of a period or an exclamation. They assume the presence of the word "what" makes it a question. Actually the presence of the word "Guess" makes it an imperative and therefore a period or an exclamation must follow. But guess what! When I explain this candidly people just assume I'm showing off my great writing skills. Oh but let me stop, cause now I'm just bragging, and that's an horrible thing to do... I mean a horrible thing to do. ;-D

The Unseen One said...

Oh man. That commercial really chaps my patootie on a multitude of levels. ;)