Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

I tend to be a little anal retentive when it comes to using language correctly. I always cringe when I hear someone slaying the King’s English.

For example, many years ago I was in a business meeting when the facilitator attempted to inform a participant that a suggestion which he had just made was, in fact, pointless to the discussion.

Thank you, but that’s a mute point“, said the moderator.

After a pregnant pause, I interjected, “I think you meant to say that it’s a moot point.”

Then I added, “Otherwise, no one would have heard it in the first place.”

The blank, glassy eyes staring back at me from around the table confirmed that the meeting had gone on for far too long or that my comments had also been deemed to be moot.

Another of my linguistic pet peeves is a phrase that I hear frequently and which is almost universally used incorrrectly. Let me tell a story to illustrate.

Sally and Jean have met for coffee and are engaged in conversation. Much to Sally’s chagrin, Jean is going on and on about her husband John’s big promotion. Since Sally’s husband is still inspecting gizzards on 3rd shift down at the chicken processing plant, she really doesn’t want to hear any more about it.

To make her point, Sally interrupts, “Jean, I could care less about John’s promotion.”

Oops! I don’t think Sally meant what she just said.

Since Sally was really attempting to tell Jean that it would not be possible for her to be any less interested in hearing about John’s promotion, she should have said, “I couldn’t care less…..

By saying, “I could care less….” she actually was indicating that her level of disinterest had not yet hit rock bottom. Just how much less she could have cared about John’s promotion is anyone’s guess given what we know.

So remember, when you’re wanting to let someone know that you’ve had just about all that you can take of any situation in which you find yourself, the correct phrase to use is,
I couldn’t care less….

Which is probably what you’re thinking right about now, so let me end this rant and wish you Bon Mots!

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