More fun with the English language


While ripping CDs onto my iPod, I’ve noticed at least one and possibly two songs that have grammatical errors in the titles. This seems unbelievable to me. It’s not unbelievable that the original songwriters got it wrong, but that they and everyone else who read the song’s title before the album was released got it wrong.

Interestingly, the errors are similar in both cases. The songs in question are “Given The Dog A Bone” by AC/DC (should be “Givin’…”) and “Taken The Pain” by Haywire (should be “Takin’…”). Errors in the lyrics themselves I can understand, and I’m sure sometimes they’re put there intentionally, but I think these are just plain ol’ mistakes. I haven’t confirmed the lyrics of the second one, but it sounds like You’re takin’ the pain from my heart…”. However, it could be You’ve taken the pain from my heart…”, in which case it’s not an error.

At one point, I thought there was some serious redundancy in the Paul McCartney song “Live And Let Die”. The lyrics sound like “But in this ever-changing world in which we live in“, but it’s actually “But if this ever-changing world in which we’re livin’“, which makes more sense. There’s “A Horse With No Name” by America, which contains the mind-boggling “In the desert you can remember your name ’cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain“. I’ve completely given up trying to analyze lyrics by some bands; Matthew Good (he has songs called “While We Were Hunting Rabbits”, “Advertising on Police Cars”, “Ex-Pats of the Blue Mountain Symphony Orchestra” and “Girl Wedged Under The Front Of A Firebird”) and The Tragically Hip (“There’s a cannon shooting coconut cream, forty gallons in a steady stream” ) are good examples.

Of course, in the original cases, it could easily be that whoever was responsible for the liner notes was solely responsible for the error. Tool’s album “Lateralus” has a song called “Lateralis”, but that is apparently a typo on some pressings of the CD. But if it’s just a typo, the story’s not that interesting.

On a radio show from Friday (which I listened to today via podcast), they were briefly talking about the English language — the difference between “further” and “farther” (I have no idea what the difference is), and how you don’t “revert back”, you just “revert”. One that always bugs me is “rate of speed”, as in “the car was moving at a high rate of speed”. Speed is a rate, so there’s no need to say “rate of”; just saying “…moving at a high speed” is perfectly correct, and “moving very quickly” is even better. Another one of those examples of people who try to sound more intelligent by using big words but end up sounding dumber because they use the big words wrong. I have heard people talk about others being “ignorant” when they really mean “rude”, but “ignorant” sounds better. They, of course, are ignorant of what ignorant really means. The classic line from The Princess Bride comes to mind: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Ironically, earlier in the same show, one of the guys had used the term “literally” incorrectly. He talked about someone who “literally took the bull by the horns”. Unless the guy was a cowboy or bullfighter, I don’t think so.

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