Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hypercorrections: Self-presentation meets grammar

I've stumbled across a most interesting Wikipedia article, on hypercorrections.

Hypercorrections are word usages that many informed users of a language consider incorrect, but that the speaker or writer uses through misunderstanding of prescriptive rules, often combined with a desire to seem formal or educated.

A good example, incorrectly using the word "octopi" as the plural for "octopus".

In simple terms, incorrectly using big words to look smart. Yet another way that self-presentation permeates all aspects of our lives.


Knumb said...

Myself could not be in greater agreeance with you, but let's just keep that between you and I.

Ryan said...

Um, one person's hypercorrection is another person's correct usage. Multiple dialects of a language, and all. Many people use "octopi". It doesn't mean that they are poseurs.

(Next you'll say that the plural of "moose" is "moose", instead of "meese"!)

Jeff said...

That's precisely where the humor lies in this post (read to the end).

Brad Wright said...

Funny John!

Ryan, I agree that not everyone is posing with hypercorrections--it's interesting how much acceptance that they have gotten in English.

That's a hilarious post Jeff. You're right, you couldn't make it up if you wanted to.