garner's usage tip

Weekly Endorsement: Garner’s Usage Tip Email

Do you like learning? Do you like new email? If so, the Garner’s Usage Tip maybe for you. 

The best email I received all week was from them, on the etymology of sour grapes: 

This is one of the most commonly misused idiomatic metaphors. It is not a mere synonym of “envy” or “jealousy.” Rather, as in Aesop’s fable about the fox who wanted the grapes he could not reach, “sour grapes” denotes the human tendency to disparage as undesirable what one really wants but can’t get (or hasn’t gotten). For example, a high-school boy who asks a girl for a date and is turned down might then insult her in all sorts of puerile ways. That’s a case of sour grapes.

I believe Larry David was involved in a movie whose title was a misuse of this expression. I also like the idea of a separate category of bitterness for something wanted and not received. 

Other good things about this email: it comes only Monday to Friday, arrives at a good time in the day (around 10 am MST, right when you could use a new email) and it speaks to the inscrutability of the English language. Like with cooking or running, or really any hobby other than solving basic algebra questions, language is something we can never do perfectly; we can only work at getting better at it. And getting better at things is something I endorse every week.