PRINCIPLES OF ENGLISH USAGE: STANDARD WRITTEN AMERICAN ENGLISH
by Joseph Suglia
Table of Contents
PRINCIPLES OF ENGLISH USAGE: STANDARD WRITTEN AMERICAN ENGLISH
by Joseph Suglia
Table of Contents
On the 10 May 2016 episode of the internet news show The Young Turks, Ana Kasparian, who is otherwise admirable, said of Nate Silver’s political bias that it is “subconscious.”
Her exact words: “I think that all of us, regardless of who you are, have our own political biases, and it sometimes subconsciously plays a role in how we do our work.”
The term subconscious was never used by Freud and was, indeed, explicitly repudiated by Freud. It originated in the French psychoanalytic school and has since stubbornly established itself as an Americanism.
The Germans retranslated the English word subsconscious into German: Unterbewusstsein and unterbewusst. But again, Freud never used the word!
Freud maintained that the only useful distinction is between the unconscious and consciousness.
The words subconscious and subconsciously come from a misinterpretation of the human mind. There is no “below” in the human mind. The entire point is that what is unconscious is inaccessible to human consciousness.
Use unconscious instead of subconscious.
Stupidity is not ignorance. Stupidity is the inability to understand basic concepts. Ignorance is the absence of knowledge (from gnosis, Greek for “knowledge”).
ANALOGY BLINDNESS by Dr. Joseph Suglia
Over the years, I have invented a number of words and phrases. Genocide pornography is one that I am especially proud of (cf. my essays on Quentin Tarantino); also: anthropophagophobia, another word that I coined, which means “the fear of cannibalism.” I would like to introduce to the world (also known as “Google“) a new linguistic term:
analogy blindness (n.) the inability to perceive what an analogy represents. To be lost in the figure of an analogy itself, while losing sight of the concept that the analogy describes.
The Analogist: Polygamy is like going to a buffet instead of a single-serve restaurant. Both are inadvisable.
The Person Who is Blind to the Analogy: People love buffets!
The Analogist: Being taught how to write by Chuck Palahniuk is like being taught how to play football by a one-legged man.
The Person Who is Blind to the Analogy: A one-legged man who knows how to play football? That’s great!
The Analogist: You should not have reprimanded her in such a rude manner for taking time off from work. You treated her as if she were guilty of some terrible offense, such as plagiarism.
The Person Who is Blind to the Analogy: But plagiarism is bad!
From Confucius: When the wise person points at the Moon, the imbecile sees the finger.
Dr. Joseph Suglia
All of these examples are wrong. Why?
“Look at the human eating tiger.”
“That is the first prototype of the machine.”
“The computer is 85% accurate.”
“It was a surprise that I didn’t expect.”
“I get help from my friends, family, and even from my boyfriend.”
“He was angry, although he had no reason to be.”
“As an educator, I have some reservations about the cable television program and how it represents teachers.”
“The comedian evoked laughter from the audience.”
“In conclusion, the students are sent to the office do to minor misbehaviors.”
“She is a woman that loves flowers” (thanks, Darius).
“When America is united, it is totally unstoppable” (thanks, Donald).
“There is no one else but me standing in a vast desert” (thanks, Yenfen).
“The athlete needs to take a preventive vaccine” (thanks, Yanhui).
Semi- vs. Quasi- (thanks to the Young Turks)
PUN: “She invents fantasy lives through which she lives vicariously.”
PUN: “She is not present to receive her present.”
“Both of the candidates have their own echo chamber.”
“I’m visiting my best friend at the hospital.”
“I have heard all kinds of hypotheticals from Taylor Swift.”
“They automatically assumed that he made overt racist remarks.”
“That is a perfect example of speculative fiction.”
“Me and my wife are deceptively strong, like mongeese.”
Skepticism vs. Cynicism
Uncharted vs. Unchartered
Super- vs. Supra- (thanks, Yenfen)
“The presidential candidate compared himself favorably to Jimmy Carter.”
“A majority of people eat fried chicken and drink ice tea.”
“I don’t remember the article. I only perused it. I’ll read it carefully, if I can find the time.”
“I am self-conscious of my teeth and tend to struggle with enunciating words.”
“Don’t be so close minded.”
“Parents can have negative or positive influences on their child.”
“That is a perfect example of how a person should speak.”
“Water leeked through the calender, which contained leaks.”
“My parents worked hard to put my siblings and I through college.”
“Ted Cruz is no longer a viable candidate for the presidency.”
“Society says that everyone has to be married or they’ll turn into a lobster.”
“She said that she wanted to lay down.”
“My one major priority is school.”
“Mexico is where she spent all her life and plans to keep it that way.”
“Aren’t you over-exaggerating what he said?”
“Personally, I want my skin to stay clear.”
“They feel ambivalent, resentful, and even question their decisions.”
“There was an area in between the two houses.”
“He was short, dark-skinned and had a low haircut.”
“He wore sometimes short sleeve shirts that were grey or blue colored.”
“I stopped taking the customers behavior personal.”
“When customers tried on clothes in the dressing room, it was my responsibility to put them on the hanger.”
“I wondered why these trials that I endured were happening to me.”
“I wondered why my trials that I had endured were happening to me.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I promise it won’t be boring”: David Bowie said this quote.
“This is a forbidden place that you are not supposed to visit.”
“He’s such a womanizer.”
“My boyfriend fixed my internet connection. He is so brilliant.”
“Robert told us about Conan’s appalling grades and his friend.”
“Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is a cult classic of the highest order.”
“I want to tell her that I love her, but the point is probably moot.”
“He adopted the disguise of a penguin in order to fool the other penguins into believing that he was a penguin.”
“He turned towards the sun and breathed a sigh of relief. He had not been eaten by the lion.”
“All of my life, I wanted to be a circus master and the owner of a puppet show.”
“I am alluding to the fact that you were not in church yesterday evening.”
“I do not approve of your conduct, my daughter.”
“We are apt to go fishing, once the weather grows warm.”
“Within the lion cage were various articles of clothing.”
“The river smells badly.”
“Climb down from the ladder, son! It’s barbeque time!”
“Prior to August, I commenced my new life as a professional Easter Bunny.”
“My apartment-mate is continuously interrupting me when I’m trying to watch Game of Thrones.”
“In 2009, all of us lived in a state of financial deprivation.”
“My last bottle of egg nog is vacant.”
“I am equally as important an employee as her.”
“It is essential that you call me back, Yvonne.”
“My girlfriend asked if we could watch the last episode of Mad Men. For example, she’s always trying to get her way.”
“When the train ran over my leg, it was excessively painful.”
“Every masculine eye was watching Penny” (Lord of Language, Chuck Palahniuk).
“I am fully committed to attend the TEDx conference with you tomorrow.”
“TRIGGER WARNING: There is a gratuitous sex scene in Gone Girl.”
“The suicide bomber was hung tonight on television.”
“It can’t hurt to put more mustard on the bread.”
“I tire of you and your ilk. You people think you are so reasonable, with your meatless food options.”
“My former girlfriend is now languishing in an insane asylum, and my grandmother is rotting away in a mental hospital.”
“Inside of every ATM machine, there is a leprechaun.”
“This job involves a lot of work.”
“At this juncture, we do not have any new job openings.”
“Just exactly what are you trying to say about my godmother?”
“He is a weird kind of a guy, but he has a nice car.”
“Later on, we ate bacon-flavored popcorn and watched the last episode of The Late Show with David Letterman.”
“I loaned $200 from you, but I really wanted $350.”
“Like I said, she looked like she was pregnant.”
“He has an authoritative parenting style. He is an authoritative parent.”
“We wished her lots of luck with her new self-published book.”
“I love dancing to the new Ke$ha album.”
“I am very mad at you for cheating on me with the mailman.”
“Thanks for the invite to the meet.”
“The artist model was, like, totally naked, dude.”
“Your politics do not make you special.”
“None but me know the truth.”
“In his novel on the origin of the universe, Dr. Krauss explains how the universe came out of nothing. He uses scientific evidence to back up his claims.”
“She is such an obnoxious person, always yawning with her mouth open and chewing gum all of the time.”
“What a peculiar person you are, with your taxidermic birds.”
“My son is perpetually yawning when I talk to him.”
“Only about 25% of all snakes are actually poisonous.”
“Practically every day, she sneers at me and avoids eye contact.”
“I realize now, after a great deal of pain, that we can never be together.”
“They are my sons, Wolf and Winthorp, respectively.”
“The snow is responsible for the roadside catastrophe.”
“I seldom ever drink alcohol, but when I do, I imbibe raspberry cider with a tinge of lime.”
“Let’s try an experiment, class. Let’s sing a song, and see if the mice dance!”
“Whom do you think will be the next celebrity speaker at the TEDx conference?”
“I stopped into the grocery store to buy some anchovy-stuffed eggplants and some ripe grapefruits.”
“I watch The Game of Thrones for historic reasons, to try to understand what this world was based on before I got here. I like to know how we got from there to here and the similarities between then and now.”
“Masters who picked and chose favorites among the slaves was also a reason why rebellions failed.”
“Rebellions against slavery was a hard truth.”
“Because they are violent, children shouldn’t play video games.”
“Do not flout your obliques in front of my son, pool boy.”
“He had a sarcastic tone in his voice.”
“The priest looked at the altar boy disingenuously and asked him, ‘Why did you eat the owl?’”
“My daughters were quite nonplussed when I got the job as President of the United States.”
“I eat very healthy foods, like muffins and smoothies and frozen yogurt.”
“He is a baleful person who writes negative reviews of famous authors.”
“Rachel Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner are two people who are often juxtaposed.”
“I wish I was snowshoeing right now.”
“The encyclopedia salesman is ridiculously photogenic and ridiculously telegenic.”
“I was repulsed by the creepy man who was photographing me without my consent.”
“Belinda was agitated by her son.”
“Antonine is uber-normal, and he eats uber-delicious sushi.”
“Jonathan Franzen writes about the way in which humans impact the bird population.”
“Everytime I look at you, I self-destruct.”
“I self-identify as a religious person.”
“They are not empathetic or feel guilt.”
“The musculatures of the men in the movie directed by Angelina Jolie made me feel insecure.”
“That is very possible and extremely necessary.”
“We had the most perfect wedding, but it was very meaningless, at the end of the day.”
“Look, people, you are phenomenal, but can we just stop all of the hate?”
“Texas seemed an eternity away.”
“Ever since I was five years old I started dancing, dancing is form of movement that I use to express my emotions and feelings.”
“Dancing and entertaining is a passion for me.”
disinterested vs. uninterested (interest and feeling)
crevasse vs. crevice
hoard vs. horde
proven vs. proved
vapor vs. vaper
hypothetical vs. hypothesis
inter vs. intern
while vs. when
_____ the bird flew through the window, I was eating a sandwich.
_____ the bird was flying through the window, I was eating a sandwich.
foul vs. fowl
climatic vs. climactic
border vs. boarder
nomophobia (accepted by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in the year of grace 2016)
disconnect vs. disconnection
embarrassment vs. humiliation
evaluate vs. value
Earth vs. earth
incentify, disincentify, incentivize, disincentivize, operationalize
parameter vs. perimeter
ensure vs. insure
“She was comparing herself to Beyonce.”
“She was comparing herself with Beyonce.”
1.) Authoritarian vs. Authoritative
2.) I Seem to Recall
3.) If vs. Whether
I can’t decide _______ I should wear orange and black to the Halloween party.
I can’t decide _______ I should wear orange or black to the Halloween party.
4.) Big, Diminutive, Colloquialism, Monosyllabic, Pulchritude
6.) Free, Precise, Correct, Unique, Perfect, Exact, Accurate, Whole, Entire, Preferable, Possible, True, False, Timeless, Immortal, Meaningless
7.) Why are You Trying too Hard, Man?
8.) Fervent, Fervid, Perfervid
9.) Bland Blandishments
10.) You are so Passive-Aggressive
11.) Congrats on the Reveal, the Hate, and the Invite
12.) I Beg Your Pardon, May I Beg the Question?
13.) Eternity vs. Infinity
14.) Loose vs. Lose
15.) Don’t You Know that I am in a Relationship?
16.) Home vs. Hone
17.) Pride vs. Vanity
18.) The Book is Totally Better than the Painting
19.) Lie vs. Lay
20.) Further vs. Farther
22.) Objectification, Antisemitism, Biphobia, Transphobia, and Homophobia
23.) You are so Relatable
24.) You are a Troll
25.) Envy vs. Jealousy
26.) The Nazis are coming!