I have a few pet peeves. I keep them in a kennel. I tried letting them stay in the house, but they tore up the couch and shat everywhere.
I have a whole family of peeves associated with grammar and the general usage of words. Maybe it comes from a scientific perspective, but I believe that language should be rigid. While spoken language can be more fluid, I use slang all the time, written language, unless trying to imitate said spoken language, should be rigid and within form.
If I am the slightest bit foggy on the exact definition of a word, I look it up. I even look up other defitions from other dictionaries. It drives me up a wall when someone uses a word when they shouldn't. My mother drilled it into my head, as she had it drilled into hers by a professor years ago, that if you use a ten-letter word when a five-letter word will do, you're pompous.
And since the pompous word is usually not the same as the five-letter, being either more finely defined or more broadly, using it sounds pompous and stupid because the word doesn't mean what you're trying to say.
I also hate how words evolve through incorrect usage. Yes, I understand that language must evolve, but the only reason language works is because it follows rules. We cannot abandon the rules in favor or evolution. A prime example of this is 'contact.'
'Contact' is now a verb. Just look at the usage note here, at Dictionary.com. While I agree with their argument, that using it as a verb is rather useful, I still refuse to use it. I MAKE contact. I do not contact. I don't care what you say. I'm going to pull a fundamentalist Christian on this one and say it's what I believe and fuck you if you believe otherwise.
One that I utterly refuse to budge on is 'impact.' It's not a verb, people! It's either a noun or a dental term. I don't care what Dictionary.com says. If I see it in formal writing I will make fun of the author.
What has triggered this tirade? An article on Wired News. It's an old term and it exemplifies the other part of modern language that annoys me. I think old terms that don't make sense, anymore, should be eliminated.
The focus of my pissed-offedness is 'false pretenses.' It's been around, apparently, since the mid 1700's and it doesn't make any sense, now. Just look up 'pretense,' alone. False pretenses and pretenses are exactly the same thing! 'pretense' is older, so it wins.
When you say 'false pretenses,' it's the equivalent of saying false fallacies. Does that mean it's true? I don't know! Is this incredibly stupid? Very much!