Thursday, December 15, 2005

Spikka dee Inglish proppa

Freedmanslife readers are invited to submit their favourite gripes about the misuse of the English language by people who should know better. These are two of my favourite common bastardisations:

"The proof is in the pudding"
No it is not, unless you mean that Professor Plum hid the lead piping in his eponymous pie. The proof of the pudding, however, is in the eating. The phrase refers to the idea that you can only know whether the pudding is tasty and well-cooked by sticking a spoon in it, as opposed to checking it for fingerprints.

"Coup de gras"
A fascinating corruption of an elegant French phrase, and likely to have a similar effect. A coup de gras would mean the recipient getting smacked by a blob of fat. The "coup de grace" is the traditional administration of a bullet at point-blank range to confirm that the victim is really dead, and has come to mean the more metaphorical fatal blow. Perhaps we should be more sensitive to the horrible origins of the expression and indeed administer a literal or metaphorical slap of margarine instead.

I welcome your suggestions for more...

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