The comments on my post about writing dates with or without terminals got me thinking about the way everyone who speaks English reacts strongly to at least one word or point of usage.
The different ways that people write a date seem to excite curiosity without making anyone angry, but sometimes words or expressions evoke annoyance so intense as to constitute rabid aversion. (I’m thinking of the responses provoked by my article on couldn’t care less.)
By a “blackboard moment” I mean a physical reaction similar to what we feel when the teacher’s hand slips and we hear a fingernail scrape against the board.
Here are some of the words, pronunciations, spellings and expressions that produce blackboard moments of various intensities in me. (The preferred form is in parentheses.)
standing on line (standing in line)
light something on fire (set something on fire)
Me and my friends swim. (My friends and I swim.)
in hopes of (in the hope of)
pronouncing the word pecan with a long e and a short a: /pee can/ (instead of with a schwa and the a of father: /pe kahn/)
pronouncing the t in Bill Clinton (he pronounces his name with a glottal stop: /klin?n.)
shepard dog (shepherd dog)
it’s tail (its tail)
In that incidence he was right. (In that instance he was right.)
Do you want some sandwich? (Do you want part of a sandwich?)
How about you, Gentle Reader?
What in the speaking or writing of English produces a blackboard moment for you?