J-J-J Jive Talkin' (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

We all make word mistakes. Here's one I hear a lot.


We all mis-hear a word or a phrase once in a while and then misuse it ourselves.

In the song "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix the late guitar hero sings.

"Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don't seem the same
Actin' funny, but I don't know why
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky" 

Apparently over the years a lot of people mis-heard that last line and quoted it as..."'Scuse me while I kiss this guy".  - That would make it a very different song.

I read once (not sure if it's true) that legend has it that Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to marijuana, in part because of a song.  In "I Want To Hold Your Hand"  the fab four sing...

"It's such a feeling that my love..I can't hide,  I can't hide, I can't hide"

Dylan apparently thought John, Paul, George and Ringo were singing "I get high, I get high, I get high, "  and assumed they were already pot smokers when he met up with them.  They apparently were soon.

I once worked with a producer, very smart guy, who has gone on to big things in this business.  He wrote a story once in which he meant to say its a dog eat dog world.  He had mis-heard the phrase over the years, probably had never seen it in writing, but had figured out the meaning by context.  He mis-wrote it as, "it's a doggy dog world".....maybe if you're Snoop but not for the rest of us.  I told him about it and he changed it before anyone else saw it.

So here's one I hear a lot.  When you want say that two things do not go together or do not make sense together, the phrase is.."that doesn't jibe." 

A remarkable number of intelligent adults use the word "jive" instead.  We've all heard it.

 Jive means swing music or early jazz.  It also means deceptive or meaningless talk, as in "J-J-J-Jive Talkin', in the old Bee Gees song.  

 Jibe means to be in accord or agreement...that's the word we want!  When I hear other reasonably intelligent adults use that malapropism I usually politely point it out. It's not because I want to be right.  It's so that other reasonably intelligent adults don't hear them say it and think less of them because of it. 

To hear someone smart make that mistake, well, it just doesn't jibe........and that's no jive.

Have you heard someone mix up the two?  Leave a comment.

We'll talk again soon.

Don Ward



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