web analytics

“You’re Correct:”Hyperurbanism as Hypertrophy

The contemporary surge of hyperurbanisms into the mainstream of American English discourse is part and parcel of the hypertrophying of lexis that has been detailed here before. This development in late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century English is of a piece with the spread of literacy and the written word into previously marginalized sectors of the speech community.

One such case ––a particularly grating one––is the substitution of correct for right as an adjective applied to persons, correct having two syllables where right has only one. Consulting the Oxford English Dictionary Online one finds––leaving aside the new meaning ‘Conforming to a dominant political or ideological orthodoxy’––the following definitions of correct as an ordinary adjective applied to things:  (1) ‘In accordance with an acknowledged or conventional standard, esp. of literary or artistic style, or of manners or behaviour; proper;’ (2) ‘In accordance with fact, truth, or reason; free from error; exact, true, accurate; right. Said also of persons, in reference to their statements, scholarship, acquirements, etc.’ When it comes to persons, the definition further reads ‘Adhering exactly to an acknowledged standard’ which subdivides depending on whether it applies to (a) ‘literary or artistic style’; and (b) ‘manners and behaviour’.

In light of these definitions there is no avoiding the interpretation of the penetration of “You’re correct” as anything other than an instance of hypertrophy. The latter term is used here advisedly, by analogy with its clinical sense, to designate an abnormal growth that is in need of amelioration by means of excision.

MICHAEL SHAPIRO

Leave a Comment

239 feed subscribers
Categories
Archives
Readers with non-commercial queries and a personal e-mail address can click here:

Michael Shapiro: Sound and Meaning in Shakespeare's Sonnets
ePub $2.49 | Mobi $2.49

Michael Shapiro: The Speaking Self: Language Lore and English Usage

For free email notification of new blog posts, please enter your address in the field below, and then click Subscribe.



Michael Shapiro's Upcoming Appearances