What is a peeve? A “peeve” is a source of annoyance or irritation. “Peeve” has its origin in the early 20th Century in America. It is taken from “peevish” which is a Middle English word from around the mid-14th Century. “Peevish” is an adjective that means “showing annoyance, irritation, or bad mood,” or “cross, querulous, or fretful, as from vexation or discontent.” Some Americans then took the adjective “peevish” and made it into a noun, “peeve.” The phrase “pet peeve” appears to have its origin before 1920, as it is found in a 1919 dictionary.
This, possibly recurring, blog post on pet peeves is really just in fun. I don’t want you to think I live my life in perpetual “stew” mode. I do have several pet peeves, and they change often. So, I decided to help my mental state by possibly educating the general public on the following peeves of mine:
1. A whole nother…
No matter where in the United States I go people use the phrase “A whole nother.” The phrase could even be heard “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”
“But it’s a whole nother year” Luke Skywalker protests when Uncle Owen vetoes Luke’s plans to go to the Academy this year.
What is a “nother?” Has anyone seen a “nother?” What do you do with a “nother?” How did “nother” lose its “a”?
“Nother” is not a word. From the research I’ve done, the phrase can be traced back to some time in the 1950s. Apparently, the phrase simply divorces the word “another” and allows another word to interrupt the union of “a” and “nother.” Although “a” can stand alone, “nother” requires its companion. The origin of the phrase likely came from some psychologist who simply wanted “nother” to find its own identity outside of its dependency on “a”.
The best thing you can do with a “nother” is to mate it with an “a.” And the two shall become a whole nother word.
2. Using third person, plural pronouns (they, them, their) for third person, singular pronouns (he, him, his) when the sex of the individual is not identified.
I know we live in an age of post-modern political correctness. There is no logic or reason in dialogue anymore. People just prefer to feel and not think. Feeling is easy. Thinking is hard.
The nature of this grammar error stems from the unknown sex of the one being discussed. Is it a he, or is it a she? In the sexual confusion of our day where men who feel like they are women can use the ladies’ locker room, does it really matter? The long-standing rule in English when the sex of the subject or object is unidentified or includes both men and women is to use the masculine gender pronoun.
Everyone needs to bring his notebook.
“Everyone” is singular in this sentence so the singular person, masculine pronoun is used. “Everyone” doesn’t own a notebook collectively, but owns one separately. “Everyone” can include both male and female. Therefore, the masculine is used. And before you get caught up in a spat of compromise with irrational gender-neutral activists, “his or her” is verbose and unnecessary because the use of “his” in this context implies “his or her.”
While doing a legal review of an incapacitation pay case I came across this grammatical gem: “Patient reports symptoms consistent with PTSD… extremely difficult for them and that they are receiving mental health services that meet their needs. Recommend further assessment.”
Apparently this patient is suffering from schizophrenia as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. My “further assessment” would be for this doctor to learn some grammar.
3. Past History
I won’t dwell on this redundancy too much. I just have one question. How much of history is in the past? I hope having brought this to your attention you will no longer use it.
Now, go out there and make future history!
4. Déjà vu all over again
As long as we’re on the subject of redundancy, I might as well go into this one. This phrase has been attributed to American genius Yogi Berra. The Yankee catcher also gave us these priceless pieces of wisdom:
A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.
Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.
Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.
It ain’t over till it’s over.
“Déjà vu” means “the experience of perceiving a new situation as if it had occurred before.” Essentially, “déjà vu” means “all over again.” Hearing so many people saying “It’s like déjà vu all over again” actually is like déjà vu all over again.
These are just some of the language pet peeves of mine. Stay tuned as I get into some uncomfortable pet peeves.