29 Juni 2008

Down with Folk Etymology!

It IS "catercorner," not "kittycorner" or "cattycorner," you trolls!!
The Phrase Finder explains it quite well:

The word is "catercorner" or "catercornered." The "cater" is an Anglicization of the French "quatre," or "four," and "catercornered" originally just meant "four-cornered." To specify that something is "catercorner across" from something else is to stress the diagonal axis of an imaginary box, as opposed to saying "directly across" or just "across."

According to the Dictionary of American Regional English "catercorner" first appeared around 1883 in the South, and originally meant "askew" or "out of line." The "diagonally across" meaning soon took over, however, as did the transition from "cater" to "catty." Linguists call this process "folk etymology" -- people replacing an unfamiliar element in a word or phrase ("cater") with a familiar one ("catty" or "kitty"). "Cattycorner" has remained purely an Americanism.

In homage to Mr. Carlin, who, despite being a high-school dropout, possessed a command of the language superior to that of most degreed persons I've ever encountered, here are a few other pet peeves:

"If I would have [or, even worse, "of"] went" --> If I had gone!" Quite an accomplishment, really, to pack three illiterate vulgarisms into a paltry 5-word sentence!

"I could care less" ---> Really?! Then you must care to some extent. Think about what you are saying, Dummkopf. It's I couldn't care less. And you probably don't, anyway.