In the critique workshop I'm leading, I edit about sixty pages each week so my inner English teacher is on high alert these days. I had to shake my head when I recently saw someone on social media talk about a segway from one topic to another. I'm pretty sure the person wasn't talking about riding one of those funny two-wheeled people movers but just didn't know how to spell segue -- which is, indeed, pronounced seg way and means a smooth transition from one thing to another. And was likely the reason for the name of the people movers.
In the course of my editing, I recently encountered a sentence like this: Hopefully, it won't rain. In my mind this is incorrect. What does that adverb hopefully modify anyway? A better sentence would be I hope it won't rain. But the first sentence and its ilk are common usage -- so I checked with several grammar sites, most of which simply throw up their (figurative) hands and say, yes, that usage of hopefully is technically incorrect but it's now acceptable since everyone uses it.
Okay, then. I'll let it slide. But what about the person who refers to the glass in a window being decimated? As a one-time Latin student, I seem to recall decimated originally meant killing one in ten as a punishment for a group -- a nasty practice the Romans employed to ensure discipline -- and the word came to mean destroying a portion of something. Can one decimate a window, I wondered.
Yep. The one in ten is the quaint historical definition, Now decimate means destroying a large portion or entirely.
Hmm -- glad I checked. It seems I'm aging out of the grammar and usage game -- stuck back in ancient Rome.
Who knows -- maybe before long segway with a lower-case S will replace segue.
But they will have to pry the Oxford comma from my cold, dead hands.