To the editor:
I had hoped that Lagniappe writers would be better than the Press Register, or at least better than the average teenage blogger.
The title of the cover article of your Jan 23, 2014 issue is “A Giant Step: A Mobilian could have been the first to step foot on the moon…”
The idiom is SET foot, not STEP foot. It is amazing to me that this passed your editing staff. And now there it lies, emblazoned on your front page, a cringe-worthy sight for literate eyes.
This is akin to people who say “In like Flint” rather than “In like Flynn” because they don’t know the history of the idiom — the story of Errol Flynn circumventing a statutory rape charge, which is significant and gives the phrase gravitas. All they know is the pun on the idiom used as the title of a shallow, slapstick Hollywood film, because they didn’t bother to learn the genesis of the phrase.
Maybe there is an online dictionary out there that will list “step foot” as a modern, non-standard version of “set foot,” but if there is, I hope you would agree that this is a cop-out. Such dictionaries will also list Sarah Palin’s “refudiate” as a real word, as a non-standard hybrid of refute and repudiate, rather than calling it what it is — WRONG. Would be nice if they also mentioned it was coined by an under-educated (“I can’t name any newspapers I read, because I don’t read any”), unqualified-for-office media-hound.
There is a difference between evolution of the vernacular and bastardization of it.
I hope your paper’s writing and editing will improve. Mobile is embarrassed enough by under-educated, intolerant residents and bumbling politicians.