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For all intensive purposes....

I've been keeping a mental list of the various grammatical errors that crop up in written texts these days that I believe are directly attributable to the decreased emphasis on reading. The most common one I saw as a freshman comp instructor was "should of," as in, "I should of gone to the store yesterday." In an increasingly oral/visual (as opposed to written/textual) culture, "should of" is the most logical connection students make when they hear the contraction for "should have" . . . "should've." The most humorous example I have is from an essay who wrote about Chippendale dancers as "chip and dale dancers." Who knew chipmunks were so hunky and flexible?

If they never see it in print, and don't have the grammatical and linguistic syntax behind the structure, "should of" makes sense. The title of this post is the most recent grammatical gaffe I've come upon. "For all intensive purposes" appears to have replaced "for all intents and purposes."

There is more to be concerned about here than simply a culture that can't speak properly because it doesn't read. In many instances, this type of grammatical error is also due to a general lack of understanding about the meaning of the phrase that has been malaproped (is that a word? does this situation count as malapropism?). "For all intents and purposes" is a cliche that basically means "practically speaking," or "for all practical purposes." But what might "for all intensive purposes mean?"

Here is the sentence from which the phrase comes, part of a review of a new (or not-yet-released) movie: "I was definitely able to relate to Seth Rogen's character in a way or two and even though for all intensive purposes the guy was an immature tool for most of the runtime...." "Intensive purposes" makes some odd sort of sense in this context. Do we condemn the author for not knowing the actual cliche, or do we congratulate him for transforming the cliche into something new?


The one that currently sticks out in my mind is - flustrated - which seems to be some sort of weird combination of frustrated and flustered. Is this a Minnesota thing or does this tie into the shifts in our culture?

I must admit that when I was younger and first learning about "peer pressure" in health class, I thought the term was "pure pressure" because the pressure was so intense. It wasn't until I saw the term in print that I realized my mistake =)

I got an email last week from a fellow PhD student with "for all intensive purposes," so what you are noticing is not just an undergrad disconnect from the written word. Funny - yet sad.