Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My New Pet Peeve

In a recent NPR segment, linguistic rock star Geoff Nunberg points out something I never noticed: people often apply the term "pet peeve" to things that are anything but "pets."

"Pet," in this usage, has traditionally implied something personal: "a tic or fancy that you nurture in your bosom and make your own." But, more often than not, the "pet peeves" people tell me about are more like mass peeves -- stuff like "irregardless" in place of "regardless."

That's a peeve all right. Just it's hard to call it any one person's pet.

I have a feeling that, from now on, every time I hear someone use "pet peeve" to describe a popular peeve ... oh, it's gonna peeve me.

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