I'm afraid it's time to outline a few more gripes I have had with misuse of our tricky but beautiful language. Let's start with an old favourite, the hyphen.
Recently I saw this headline on a news website: "Is New Zealand disaster ready?" Well, my response was that we don't know whether the New Zealand disaster is ready or not. We don't even know who is preparing it.
Of course, what the writer really meant was, "Is New Zealand disaster-ready?" What a world of difference that tiny hyphen makes.
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On the same website I saw "Barrett's record breaking boot". How does a record break a boot? The article was actually about his record-breaking boot. What a difference!
And then as if to rub it all in, I checked my inbox and found an email from a clothing outlet. It featured the sub-heading, "Must have essentials". I certainly agree that we must have essentials but what they really wanted to share with me was "Must-have essentials".
If you need something to remind you of the importance of hyphens, remember this popular memory jogger: "twenty four-hour shifts" is not the same as "twenty-four hour shifts" or "twenty-four-hour shifts".
And I'd also like to have a gripe about diction. I know that it will be very hard to displace John Key's "Rubber Wool Cup" (Rugby World Cup) from top position but I'd still like to mention a word being uttered by more and more sports commentators. The word is "obchoondee".
Commentator: If they want to come away with the win, the boys must seize every obchoondee.
Me: Every what?
Often I lament the addition of a gratuitous 's' to venue names (Mamacita becomes Mamacita's, Diva becomes Diva's etc) but I recently encountered the opposite (sort of) on a roadside sign. It read: "Cauliflower – 99 cent".
I didn't bother stopping because I was sure it would already have been sold.
I have more gripes to type. When, for example, will people stop referring to the "amount of people" at an event. An amount is a bucketload or a sackful. People come in numbers.
"Grab" has surely had its time too. "I'll just grab a pen" or "I'll just grab my boss" (eeek!) have been around for too long now. We need a new verb. Suggestions, please.
I will offer a small prize to any reader who can offer a valid (or hilariously funny) reason for this structure which is still rife: "The problem is is that…" It's so silly you might not have read it correctly. Why is the verb doubled?
My final language gripe today is another old favourite. You'd think the offenders had been given a severe enough slap on the wrist last time round but, no, there are still recalcitrants who refer to "the Hawke's Bay". This must stop!
Coromandel is in a slightly different situation if you'll pardon the geographical wordplay. If I tell you that Mrs D and I were there over the weekend would I mean we were in the town or on the peninsula?
Well the truth is we were at/in/on both. We drove up the eastern side of the peninsula, overnighting in Whitianga, and down the western side after breakfast in the town of Coromandel.
So, my theory is that, when people say they went to "the Coromandel", "peninsula" is understood. In short, "the Coromandel" means "the Coromandel Peninsula" and "Coromandel" means the town.
But you can't apply that argument to Hawke's Bay. "The Hawke's Bay" is as irritating as it is wrong. I'm sure even people in the Auckland or the Canterbury would agree.
There, I've had my say!
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.