Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Small Pet Peeve....

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that I'm no English Language Guru (Saner Sister agrees heartily to this observation) and I've used my fair share of colloquialisms and misused my fair share of words that are either spelled the same but have different meanings or are pronounced the same but have both different meanings and spellings.  Case in point: the word "lead."
I have been reading several blogs and news articles (both the paper & on-line variety) as well as a wealth of other types of the written word and I have noticed an alarming trend. The attitude that, if it sounds good, the spelling/usage must be correct.  Sorry, this just isn't so.  And, it's not just the word "lead," there are others, but this one is the most recently misused and abused word so I'm going to use it as the example.
Now, as I mentioned, I know I'm no Language Guru, but Saner Sister is, based on the English Minor she took in college and the fact she's a legal secretary. She's almost Attila the Hun of correct grammar and punctuation. Give her a paper to review and it comes back bleeding! So, I not only checked with her that I wasn't misunderstanding what I was reading in the usage of the word "lead" but she also gave me a link to a page by Davy Kraken that gives a great example of this.  Go here to see it for yourself but I've also reprinted it with permission of the author himself.

Lead vs. Led
The past tense of the verb lead —pronounced LEED— is led, which is the conjugation used for all subjects. Instead, people commonly write its homophone, lead, which refers to the element on the periodic table. There is a triangular relationship between these three words: Lead and lead are homonyms, led is a conjugation of lead, and led is a homophone of lead, the metal. Confused yet? Well, confusion is what the following examples will, hopefully, eliminate.


*Note* He leads the league in scoring.
*Note* At sites known as buffalo jumps, Native Americans once led herds of bison over cliffs, sending them plunging to their deaths.
*Note* Children can obtain lead poisoning from eating paint chips.
*Note* Stop leading me on.
*Note* Robert E. Lee led the Confederate forces at Gettysburg, the largest battle of the American Civil War.
*Note* It was Colonel Mustard with the lead pipe in the conservatory!
© Copyright 2007 Davy Kraken (UN: kraken at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Davy Kraken has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.

So, you see, we need to take just a leeeeeeetle more care in how we use our language.  I know certain words and their usage can get confusing but we're not back in the Middle Ages when things were spelled out phonetically (or not so phonetically; as an example "ffalt" for today's "salt"). If you want to sound professional and knowledgeable, take a moment to check that the word you used is correct for the sentence. Even if it means dragging out that huge ol' Mirriam-Webster! The Grammar Huns will thank you! ;)


  1. I sometimes feel I am wasting my time when I double-check my blog posts for errors, Pam. I wonder how many readers would notice or care? But we shall persevere! I worry about the coming generation, who have adopted their own pseudo-language for social media.

    1. Oh, yeah, if you live in California, you'll remember the pseudo-language they tried to pass off as a *real* language that ought to be taught in the classrooms. Ebonics. Ring a bell? Thankfully, *THAT* went the way of the Dodo!