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I'm sure there is much discussion (and lamentation!) on this site about the increasing use of impact as a verb in the place of affect, along with the use of the reflexive pronoun myself when the plain old me would suffice.

It seems fairly apparent that these substitutions are the result of a population familiar enough with common grammatical pitfalls (affect vs. effect, so-and-so and I, not so-and-so and me) but not sure enough of the correct usage.

As a result, I suspect that many of these speakers/writers have become so afraid of making a grammatical mistake with these words that they stay away from them entirely, only to, ironically, end up making the grammatical mistake they were hoping to avoid in the first place.

Is there a name for this phenomenon? Can anyone think of some other good examples?

It seems interesting, to this writer at least, that grammatical mistakes can be born of grammatical knowledge.

marked as duplicate by TimLymington, Edwin Ashworth, Skooba, Phil Sweet, kiamlaluno Sep 24 '17 at 7:20

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  • It's by no means apparent that all such new usages are due to uncertainty. As examples, 'Impact' has more punch than 'affect', and according to Etymon has been used with the 'affect' sense since 1935. And arguably 'It's me' is now considered more correct than 'It is I' by many grammarians. / If your question is purely about hypercorrection (which of course does often occur), it is a duplicate. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 23 '17 at 10:36
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Indeed, as @TymLimington pointed out, hypercorrection is a good answer (see Is there a term for grammatical mistakes as a result of trying too hard?)

That concept could be generalized to pendulum shift (see this question for explanation of the meaning).

In essence there is an exageration in one direction, which is expected to come back all the way. This happens all the time. In the early 20th century, after the terrible Spanish Influenza had subsided, there was still a lingering fear in the population about contagion (mysophobia). But after a while the idea of immunization became more widespread, and most people stopped worrying about it all the time; then it came back a few years ago with swine flu, etc.

On a new job (of for a grammar student), there also the attitude of new brooms sweep clean: in their eagerness they want to be more papist than the Pope (or, to coin a phrase, more fowlerist than Fowler), which is also a particular case of pendulum shift.

But after they learn more, they generally swing back to more tolerance, and find a better balance.

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