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A solecism is a grammatical mistake or absurdity. The word solecism was originally used by the Greeks for mistakes in their language. Ancient Athenians considered the dialect of the inhabitants of their colony Soli in Cilicia to be a corrupted form of their own pure Attic dialect, full of "solecisms".

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

  • "This is just between you and I" for "This is just between you and me." (hypercorrection to avoid the common, non-standard "you and me" form in the subject of sentences while "me" is, nonetheless, the standard pronoun for the object of a preposition.)
  • "He ain't going nowhere" for "He isn't [or he's not] going anywhere." (dialectic usage; see "ain't")
  • "Whom ate the food?" for "Who ate the food?" (hypercorrection resulting from the perception that "whom" is a formal version of "who")
  • "He's the person whom I believe is the fastest" for "He's the person who I believe is the fastest." (hypercorrection resulting from the perception that the relative pronoun is functioning as an object in the dependent clause when, in fact, it is a subject, with the predicate "is the fastest"; contrast "whom I believe to be the fastest," in which "whom" is the object of "I believe")
  • "Irregardless" for "regardless" (nonstandard neologism from analogy with constructions like "irreverent," "irrespective," and "irrevocable," where the negative prefix in- changes to ir-).
  • "Substituting A for B" when the intended meaning is "substituting B for A" or "replacing A with B", ie. "removing A and putting B in its place".

What is considered a solecism in one register of a language may be acceptable usage in another. For example, "The world keeps turning for you and I" (10cc) is acceptable as a song lyric[citation needed] (see poetic license) but is considered a solecism in standard English.

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

[edit] See also

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