Anyone who’s had an influential grammarian mentor in their past or simply knows
the rules has their share. We’re talking about those pesky, pervasive and ever tenacious
abuses of the language that like an infestation of moths, flutter into the house, and seem impossible to swat out.
From simple word misuse to faulty or misquoted cliches, our language is rife with them. So for all of you language-loving sufferers out there, this, friends, is your oasis – The Grammar Slammer – a new weekly series from the Brendan & Brendan blog.
Here’s what we’re thinking. Each week we’ll prime the pump with a bug bear or two, and that’ll be your cue to let fly. We don’t expect much more than crickets to begin with, but we know you’re out there. Aside from the sheer sweet release we’re hoping through the process to develop a compendium of faux pas’ that we can corner, catch and duly slam.
“Coming Down the Pipe”
How many times have you heard this phrase and thought, “what? wait a minute, that can’t be right? And you’re right, it’s not. The actual phrase is “coming down the pike”, the pike being
a nice old slang shortening of turnpike, referring to a toll, path or railroad line. Obviously the word switch came from the similarity in sound and people’s discomfort with the word pike as it’s not one found in common usage. The comic irony of the switch is that a phrase that once described something good coming, like say, a train car full of goods, has surreptitiously morphed into something much less appetizing often found floating through the sewer. Another reason why this phrase, most often used in business found this particular corruption may stem from the common use of the metaphor “pipeline” to describe a sequence of new products or services.
With all of that in mind, we can not overstate the importance of not letting this stinky little number slip down the pike unnoticed.