I often see people online get upset about the misuse of the English language.

They’re upset that Americans say, ‘I could care less’ when they mean ‘I couldn’t care less’.

Or the fact that Americans say, ‘could of’ when they mean ‘could have’.

Similarly, cockneys say, ‘I don’t know nothing’ when they mean ‘I don’t know anything’.

Or when someone says, ‘irregardless’ when they should say ‘regardless’.

Or when they say, ‘to all intensive purposes’ instead of ‘to all intents and purposes’.

Or maybe, ‘I was on tender hooks’ instead of ‘I was on tenter hooks’.

Or someone asks for cold slaw’ instead of ‘coleslaw’.

Or when someone writes that you should ‘tow the line’ instead of ‘toe the line’.

Or that something is a ‘shoe in’ instead of a ‘shoo in’.

My wife is Singaporean, so she didn’t learn a lot of expressions until she came to England.

Consequently, she says at your back and call’ instead of ‘at your beck and call’.

She also says ‘escape goat’ instead of ‘scapegoat’.

Personally, I love the way people play with the language, I like the way they own it and use it to express themselves, it’s not just a set of rules, everyone knows what they mean.

In Singapore, the locals mix English words with Chinese syntax which results in ‘Singlish’.

I once asked a Chinese lady for directions, she said: “This way can, that way also can”.

I love that people take the language onboard and adapt it as their own.

Years ago, the international language was French but it isn’t anymore, now it’s English.

The reason is the French were rigid in their protection of their language, whereas English has always been open-source.

The Academie Francaise is restrictive about banning Anglo-Saxon phrases like ‘le sandwich’or ‘le weekend’; Walkman must be ‘baladeur; computer must be ‘ordinateur’; software must be ‘logiciel’,  e-mail must be ‘courriel’.

But when Johnson published his English dictionary in 1755, he said it was a record of current usage of the language by ordinary people, not a set of rules handed down from above.

That’s why every year the Oxford English Dictionary adds new words as they appear, because the language is constantly evolving.

People won’t be dictated to.

Decades ago, Sony learned this lesson the hard way, their Betamax video system was far superior to JVC’s system: VHS.

So Sony were very protective of their system where JVC let everyone use theirs.

Consequently, everyone used VHS and hardly anyone used Betamax.

As a youngster, Steve Jobs watched this and he learned the lesson, later he made the iPhone available to all app-developers, which meant they all used it.

There are 1.6 million apps available for Apple, and those apps sell iPhones, because software sells hardware.

But the more restrictive you get about something, the more you kill it.

That’s why playing with the language is more important than protecting it.

Years ago, the advertising debate was over the line: “Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should’, many people were outraged at such an ungrammatical statement, saying it should have been corrected to “Winston Tastes Good as a Cigarette Should”.

Similarly, when Apple’s line was “Think Different”, many people said it should have been written correctly as “Think Differently”.

But they forget the purpose of language is to communicate, not to pass an exam.

Those lines caught on because they weren’t perfect.

We need to learn a lesson from the French, which was the language the world used until they sucked all the fun out of it.

Now they’ve got a language that obeys all the rules and hardly anyone uses it.

Unless we learn to loosen up and have fun with advertising, that’s where we’re headed.