Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Grammatical Grumbles

"What?!" you're thinking (all three of you that read this sometimes woefully inconsistent blog). "He disappears for two weeks and then returns with a English language usage quibble?" Fear not, brave readers of, this post will connect, however tangentially, to the world of bikes and bike racing.

Before I vent my rage, however, a quick apology. I've been out traipsing the West Coast, scouting new job locations that will take me away from this winter of hell in the Northeast. While out there, I had to attend to things like the thickness of my Windsor knot, and whether or not I should wear the jacket to the interview (not, I went with, and it was the right decision; what teachers (at schools I would like to teach at, anyway) wear blue blazers to work?). So the blog suffered. But I'm back, and using a little invective to get things rolling. No worries, I'll be back to my good-natured earnest self tomorrow.

I get to be good-natured and earnest because I can go to blogs like Bike Snob NYC and get my fill of invective and rage. The bike snob is a smart guy, as you can tell from the quality of his writing and general sangfroid. So I was dismayed, in today's post, to find this:

"If I were a doctor, and this were a fixed-gear colonoscopy, then I just found two growths. I’ve also just tested them, and by God, they’re malignant! So what must we do, you ask? The answer is simple. We must do as the doctor would do: nip them in the butt."

For context's sake, he's talking about top tube mounted brake levers, something I'll confess I've never seen (for good reason, I believe; why the hell would you put your brakes there?). But here's the problem. I'm a lover of mixed metaphors, but only when I want to hold someone up for some light ridicule. The saying is "Nip it in the BUD." It's a gardening metaphor, and it means to cut something off before it grows. So the Bike Snob has his connotation correct, but his metaphor is confused. Doctors don't, last I check, garden regularly. They probably do nip things in the butt every now and then, but usually this kind of thing only happens around nasty little dogs.

Keep your knees in, and your published metaphors unmixed, people.


Colin R said...

I assumed it was an intentional mistake to further emphasize that a colonoscopy involves, you know, butts.

Ali said...

how about:

Tongue and cheek (tongue IN cheek)

Worse comes to worse (worst comes to worst)

Just assume (just as soon)

Pit in my stomach (in the pit of my stomach)

Road to hoe (row to hoe)

Then the ever annoying redundancies:

HIV virus
ATM machine
PIN number
LCD display
Mount Fujyiama
Rio Grande river

And don't get me started on the differences between:
lay / lie
nauseous / nauseating
between / among

Then, the ever popular:
"these ones," and
"a whole nother." (Is "nother" a word now?)

Granted, I am not perfect and make my fair share of grammatical and spelling mistakes, but "these" (not "these ones") are really nauseating.