SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Column - Commentary

Bear With Me On This One  


June 12, 2022

Ketchikan, Alaska -
A while back, I had a giggle when I noticed a friend said she wanted to strangle someone with her "bear" hands.


Yes, I'm sure it was just another example of the Auto Correct Follies, which has replaced Spellcheckapalooza as one of the great scourges of the modern world. In trying to be helpful, auto correct offers words and names that you had no intention of using and make no grammatical sense. And sometimes, I swear, it inserts them AFTER you hit send!!!

But, is "bear" hands really so bad?

Yes, it is not correct. It is not "bare." And yes, it would be a little too exciting to rent a "bear" boat charter.

But, in some ways, strangling some with your "bear" hands would be appropriate. Assuming you had "bear" hands, of course.

Another word that sometimes comes in written communications is "baited." No, not as is "my hook is baited." It comes up in another  incorrect usage, "baited breath."

Like "bear" hands, "baited breath" brings up sorts of rugged images. Mostly dealing with really bad breath. I mean if you have herring breath or worm breath or crab viscera breath, it is NOT a good thing, eh?

Of course, the word should have been "bated" breath, which was what Shakespeare first used in 1605 or thereabouts, bated being short for abated and basically meaning holding your breath (hopefully not in your bear hands).

There are a lot of misused words out there, regardless of Auto Correct and Spell Check.

Note, I used regardless rather than irregardless. I used to always use irregardless until a teacher once pointed out that irregardless and regardless mean essentially the same thing. That doesn't seem possible. After all, when my other teachers said I was often being irresponsible they did not mean I was being responsible. English is a funny language.

But I digress.

We have all seen our fellow communicants struggle with such words as "there, their and they're" or "to, too, and two" or even "are, our, and arrggh."

Well, maybe not so much the last one. Although as a descendant of seafaring plunderers, I will always assert that the 'g' is silent.

Another misused word that seems to come and go (like the tide) is pacific. Not the ocean. But the word "pacific" rather than "specific." I first noticed this quite a few years ago in friends of mine who had gone to the venerable Ketchikan Main School. I can only assume that one of the teachers there must have used that construction.

By the way, how can a single word be a "construction?" Don't you need at least two of something, anything, to "construct."

But I digress, again.

Anyway, they would mean to say "specific" and would say "pacific" instead. At first, I would respond "not Atlantic?" But that would just get black stares.

Kind of like when someone would say "at any rate" and I would respond "how about five percent?"

And I wonder why people often just stare at me. Blankly.

Actually, I stole that last one from the legendary Kayhi science teacher Phil Myerchin, although his response was usually "how about three and three quarters percent."

Mr. Myerchin was also fond of responding. "Like, wow," to virtually any question.

Which is the first thing I thought when my friend wrote about her "bear" hands.


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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

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