Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Saving syllables

Students of the English language should find frustrating to say the least a common practice illustrative of the lazy way of speaking too many are prone to exhibiting.

This time of the year in our hemisphere, as days gradually become warmer weather forecasters (and many others) say “The days are getting longer”.  This culminates at the official beginning of summer with “This is the longest day of the year”.  Conversely, late in the year “The days are getting shorter”, topped off by “This is the shortest day of the year”.

No, they’re not!

Part of the genius of the late great stand-up comedian George Carlin was his capacity to analyse our use of language, including the numerous faux pas commonly expressed.  One of my favourites was his observation about the event of two aircraft almost colliding while in the air: this isn’t a near miss, it’s a near hit!

Similarly, over the course of a year it’s not that the days are getting longer or shorter; it’s the daylight that’s getting longer or shorter. Why is it so difficult to add an extra syllable for the apparently minor goal of accuracy?

Would that the actual phraseology used be true: the long cold winter would actually be shorter to endure, since it would be a period of fewer hours, while the all too brief summer would be expanded with many more hours to enjoy outdoor activities.

In the absence of such fantasy, how about a little more effort at speaking accurately?  C’mon, an extra syllable never killed anyone.

Comments on: "Saving syllables" (1)

  1. It is amazing what passes as good language sometimes. Be the language police, we need them.

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