Monday, April 6, 2009

Confusing Words

Confusing words in the English language have always been a pet peeve for those who strive to promote good grammar, correct spelling and all around great prose. There is a nice site which offers assistance to those who need help with confusing words.
Everyone needs help now and then. There are other sites intended to help with confusing words.
Good English is based on meanings, pronunciations, and spelling of words. The study of Semantics is important in order to write an intelligent discourse and have it understood correctly. Knowing the meanings and/or multiple meanings of words can greatly improve your writing. It is so easy to be misunderstood by a genre of readers who may see a word in one way when you meant it in another way. Avoiding a double entendre, which is French for "double meaning" can be invaluable. A double entedre usually implies a slip of the word which could have embarrassing implications.
The English language has evolved many times over the centuries. Today, there is UK English and American English. Even so, with the internet and movies, the language is blending more and more everyday. Nonetheless, there are pioneers in the development of language. None greater than those who write the guidebooks on language. The dictionary is the word bible for writers and speakers. In the United States, the great pioneer in making dictionaries was Noah Webster. His first work, which was published in 1806, advocated spelling head as hed and thumb as thum; but his efforts at spelling reform were generally rejected by the public. In other respects, however, his work was widely accepted; and in 1828, his well-known An American Dictionary of the English language began to exert its lasting influence on English in this country. Lexicographers since Webster have been somewhat more reliable than he is reporting actual usage but they, too, have had to report spelling as it is found in printed sources. Thus, spelling has become fixed and largely unchangeable, although it frequently does not represent actual pronunciation and often departs from common sense.
Here's to the evolution of language. Every writer has a part in this process. For example, Shakespeare wrote at a time when English was not a standard being taught to the general populace. As a result, he invented new words and grammar rules which were later followed. Shakespeare's plays became popular in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century and they helped contribute to the standardization of the English language

1 comment:

Jen said...

Yeah, I too know how words are commonly misused. Too many words are used to change two meanings into one. Hence the misuse of to, too, two...