Solecism

From Academic Kids

In linguistic prescriptivism, a solecism is a grammatical or other mistake or absurdity. The word is derived from the Greek Σολοικισμος (soloikismos); from Σολοικος (Soloikos), "speaking incorrectly"; from Σολοι (Soloi), an Athenian colony in Cilicia whose inhabitants spoke what Athenians regarded as a corrupted and barbarous form of Attic.

Some examples of usages often regarded as solecisms in standard English are:

  • "This is just between you and I." for "This is just between you and me." (hypercorrection by people instructed to avoid the common "you and me" form in the subject of sentences; "me" is in fact the correct pronoun for the object of a preposition.)
  • "I ain't going." for "I'm not going." (dialectic usage; see ain't)
  • "This is me and Leslie's house." for "This is Leslie's and my house." (dialectic usage)
  • "Whom ate the food?" for "Who ate the food?" (hypercorrection by people who think that whom is simply a formal version of "who")

What is considered to be a solecism in one dialect of a language may be acceptable usage in another. Modern descriptive linguistics generally rejects the entire notion of solecisms, concentrating on how language is used, rather than prescribing rules as to how it ought to be used.

Note that a solecism is an error of syntax, while a barbarism is an error of morphology.

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