Decimate....a pet peeve

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by LarryPQ, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. LarryPQ

    LarryPQ Easter Hatch!!

    Jul 17, 2009
    Means to destroy a large # of, or 1 out of 10. In the vernacular: a big hunk was blasted out of existence.

    If the destruction has been TOTAL or complete, then it is said to be OBLITERATED. Bad copy writers make media personalities dumber and dumber with every newscast. It has gotten to the point where popular usage has caused the dictionaries to add notations about "current trends". I will stick that "current trend" right in there with my file for "Bennifer". **bleh**

    DECIMATE [des-uh-meyt]
    –verb (used with object), -mat⋅ed, -mat⋅ing. 1. to destroy a great number or proportion of: The population was decimated by a plague.
    2. to select by lot and kill every tenth person of.
    3. obsolete: to take a tenth of or from.

    Usage note:
    The earliest English sense of decimate is “to select by lot and execute every tenth soldier of (a unit).” The extended sense “destroy a great number or proportion of” developed in the 19th century: Cholera decimated the urban population. Because the etymological sense of one-tenth remains to some extent, decimate is not ordinarily used with exact fractions or percentages: Drought has destroyed (not decimated) nearly 80 percent of the cattle.

    ANYWHOO-- I had to vent. My incredibly educated CFO just said decimate to describe something financial. Keeping my mouth shut was like nails on a chalkboard, or chewing on carpet.
  2. ksacres

    ksacres At Your Service

    Nov 16, 2007
    San Antonio TX

    But, in all honestly, I often encounter people that have a tenuous (at best) grasp of the English language. I often have to backtrack and give the definition of a word I have used. Sad but true.
  3. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap Premium Member

    Ken commented the other night "Is there still journalism school? You wouldn't know it..."
  4. LarryPQ

    LarryPQ Easter Hatch!!

    Jul 17, 2009
    When I was in college at the UofA, there was a news chanel who's catch phrase was, "CLEAR, CONCISE, AND TO THE POINT".

    But by saying it 3 times, it is neither clear, concise, or to the point!! It was like listening to Mojo Jojo from the Powerpuff Girls. TOOOORRRRTUUUURRE.
  5. mom'sfolly

    mom'sfolly Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 15, 2007
    Austin area, Texas
    My personal peeve for words used incorrectly is penultimate. Folks, this word doesn't mean the very best, it doesn't mean the greatest ever, it means the second best or second to the last in a series. There is a movie reviewer here that uses this word wrong every time, and he likes the word a lot.

    See, Everest is not the penultimate peak in the Himalayas, K2 is.
  6. ohiofarmgirl

    ohiofarmgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 22, 2009
    hee hee hee

    i make words up to send my 'i''m smarter than you' mean ol' mother in law into fits. then to really send her over the edge i start swearing like drunken sailor just to prove i'm as uneducated as she thinks i am.

    its become a game. i think i'm winning...... its the superfunnest thing i do
  7. Lady Henevere

    Lady Henevere Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2009
    Los Angeles County
    I read your post yesterday with interest, since incorrect usage often bugs me too. I never thought about the proper use of "decimated" before though, so this was new to me. This morning I received an e-mail (a daily writing and usage thing) that included the following (specifically, see the example for "Stage 5"):

    ...the Language-Change Index: Its purpose is to measure how widely accepted various linguistic innovations have become. Such a measuring system for usage guides was first proposed by Louis G. Heller and James Macris in 1967. They noted that "usage specialists can make a clear-cut demarcation of phases in the evolutionary process relevant to the inception and development of alternative terms."

    In these tips, the five stages are tagged as usages that are rejected (Stage 1), widely shunned (Stage 2), "widespread but . . ." (Stage 3), "ubiquitous but . . ." (Stage 4), or fully accepted (Stage 5). Here's a more thorough explanation:

    Stage 1: A new form emerges as an innovation (or a dialectal form persists) among a small minority of the language community, perhaps displacing a traditional usage (e.g.: *"mistaked" for "mistook").

    Stage 2: The form spreads to a significant fraction of the language community but remains unacceptable in standard usage (e.g.: "moribund" used to mean "dead," not "dying").

    Stage 3: The form becomes commonplace even among many well-educated people but is still avoided in careful usage (e.g.: "noisome" used to mean "noisy").

    Stage 4: The form becomes virtually universal but is opposed on cogent grounds by a few linguistic stalwarts (die-hard snoots): (e.g.: "kudos" used as a false plural, as in "many kudos").

    Stage 5: The form is universally accepted (not counting pseudo-snoot eccentrics) (e.g.: "decimate" used to refer to widespread or total destruction).

    I am most certainly not saying you are a "pseudo-snoot eccentric" (whatever that means!) but...maybe the battle has already been lost on this one? [​IMG]

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