I just had this conversation in Wal-Mart with the Eagle but two days ago (or was it three? ).
I said teapot instead of teakettle in talking about something for which I wanted to go look. He corrected me. I asked him if it really mattered and he asked me if I would rather walk around being wrong.
I told him he knew exactly what I meant and did it really matter? He replied that he would rather be corrected than walk around being wrong. I actually agreed with him but added a strong caveat of, "Except for when it isn't important. You knew what I meant, I knew what I meant, and it wasn't like I asked you to go look for one. I was just talking about where I wanted to head next (the housewares section). It's annoying when you do that and actually a little rude. It really ticks off some people because you're obsessing over unimportant stuff and are completely ignoring the point. Do you really want to upset people over such a stupid little detail?" He didn't say anything about it after that. We'll see if anything changes.
This would totally be my mom--the one who said the wrong (but pretty close, and fairly unimportant) word. When I was younger I was a terribly bratty know-it-all and would have corrected her, but now I try to only question her if I actually don't know what she means, and if not knowing makes a difference. And then I try to do it in a straight-forward manner, like, "Was that teaPOT or teaKETTLE?" very matter-of-fact, just so we're both on the same page about what to look for. People say the wrong word all the time; it irks me when someone tries to turn a minor mistake into some kind of moral judgment.
O/T- Feel free to judge my morals- in my world teapot and teakettle are interchangeable and people avoid teakettle for sounding a bit twee... whats the difference?
Its not about morals at all, its about vocabulary. A kettle is what you boil the water in and the teapot is what you make tea in and serve from.
That said, they are probably sold near each other at Walmart, so finding one would mean finding the other and the specifics are moot.
Probably "moral judgment" wasn't the right phrase... Don't judge me!
I mean, kind of like TootsNYC said, there's a way to correct/clarify someone in a polite way, and there's a way to do it in a rude, snotty way. Like, does it make a difference (either practically, or in the speaker's mind) that the speaker said something wrong, or is the corrector just trying to show that they're smarter than everyone else? I think the latter is definitely rude when it comes across, while the former can be helpful.
Also, even when it doesn't make a practical difference, some people do want
to be corrected when they're wrong (as several people have said on this thread). I think it's best to wait for someone to explicitly say
they want to be corrected, or otherwise discuss it, before jumping in to correct things that don't seem to matter. Or at least, if they ask you to stop... stop.
Word pronunciations can be tricky. I work with a lot of people whose first language isn't English; I feel like I've become a lot more relaxed about "proper" pronunciation because of it. Oct-a-GON-al vs. oc-TAG-on-al wouldn't even register with me now, because I would know what word they were trying to say, and that's the priority to me now. Probably the most complex one I've come across was, believe it or not, "herbal tea." My co-worker had to write that one down before I understand what he meant. I can't even describe how he was pronouncing it originally; but it was "wrong" in the sense that he wasn't communicating his meaning to me, so we had to discuss it and get the pronunciation closer to something I, and other English speakers, could understand.